Lady Cats take final step to title game
Campbell drives in 2 in four-run third in 5-2 victory
By Richard Greene
In the Class 2A Region II Final last weekend, Lori Campbell never made it to the plate while playing second base. Back in the lineup Wednesday, the senior came up with the hit that put the Pilot Point Lady Cats in the state title game.
Campbell lined a two-out, two-run single up the middle to cap a four-run third inning in the Lady Cats’ 5-2 victory over Garrison in the Class 2A semifinal at Red and Charlie McCombs Field.
“That was intense,” Campbell said. “I kept saying to myself that I can’t strike out. The whole time I was saying that I couldn’t let my team down.”
Pilot Point (39-2-1) moves on to play the winner Hawley-Santa Gertrudis Academy semifinal in the 2A title game at 6 p.m. Thursday
“This is what you work for and why you do all the hard work and all the extra things that you do - to get here,” Ramsey said. “I have to give my kids credit. They’ve done an outstanding job. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. But I know they are going to lay it on the line.”
Playing in the state semifinal for the second time in the program’s history and first time since 2005, the Lady Cats found themselves in a scoreless tie entering the bottom of the third.
Natalie Larson led off the third by reaching on an error at short. She moved up to second on Haley Evans but went past the bag and fell with an injured leg. Unable to get back up, she was tagged out for the out. Larson was helped off the field and did not return. Ramsey did not know her status for Thursday.
The Lady Cats’ leading hitter Skylar Cagle doubled to center to put runners at second and third. Garrison pitcher Cat Heflin walked Preslee Gallaway to load the bases before Allison Strittmatter stepped to the plate.
With a 1-1 count on Strittmatter, Heflin plunked her to drive in the game’s opening run. Sierra Brooks soon made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to left.
Campbell then stepped to the plate with two outs and runners at first and second.
Ramsey had her out of the lineup in game two against Brock to get a second left-handed batter in the lineup.
Campbell thought it was because of an error she had made in the opening game of the series.
The senior put that behind her, hitting a bouncing ball up the middle to score Gallaway and Cagle to make it 4-0.
“I redeemed myself,” she said about her hit Wednesday.
Ramsey agreed: “That was big. Lori Campbell came up with a big timely hit. She just came through at a crucial time.
“That’s a senior stepping up and coming through for us at a big time.”
Pilot Point added an insurance run in the sixth as Mallory Ramsey raced home from first on a throwing error by Garrison shortstop Kaily Cox after getting the lead runner Allison Ray at third and trying to turn the double play.
On the big stage for the first time, Cagle fought a few nerves early and left a few pitches over the plate.
“It was big game in Austin and this has been my dream since I was little and we finally made it,” Cagle said. “Now we’re going to the title game.”
She still managed to get through the first three innings without allowing a run, including striking out the side in the third after allowing a leadoff hit.
Cagle finished with eight strikeouts, allowing two runs - one earned - on five hits.
“She settled in as the game went on,” Ramsey said.
Once her offense provided her a four-run lead, the Pilot Point senior hurler entered the circle confident she could hold it.
“As soon as we started scoring runs, that was an automatic confidence booster,” Cagle said.
She worked a scoreless fourth before Garrison scored a run in the fifth on a RBI-single by Breann Colle. Garrison turned an error by Pilot Point third baseman Haley Evans into an unearned run in the sixth as Cox drove home Hannah Walker.
Evans made up for the error in the seventh after Cagle struck out the first two hitters by making a diving catch of a line drive on the third-base line for the final out and send the Lady Cats to the title game.
“It was just reactionary,” Evans said. “Then it hit me. Oh my gosh, we are going to the state championship game!”