River Road centerfielder Ashley Shelbourne had the confidence to bring in the winning run.
Shelbourne hit a RBI single late in the game and put the Lady Cats past Borger, 5-4, in a non-district match-up on Tuesday at River Road.
“I knew it was going to be [a hard-fought game], River Road coach Ty Hoobler said. “I told the girls that it’s going to come down to whoever makes the least mistakes.”
“It’s just my job as a pitcher to put the ball in play and it just happens to be in the strike zone,” River Road pitcher Alexa Velasquez said. “I felt like that I needed to do my job and that’s what I did as a pitcher to help my team out.”
Shelbourne struggled in her first three at-bats but made the final plate appearance a worthy one, with a two-run RBI single that brought home Alex Smith and Hannah Nebhut in the bottom of the sixth inning.
River Road kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, where Maci Watkins recorded a RBI single that brought in pitcher Alexa Velasquez, as she hit a double in her respective appearance at the plate.
It wasn’t long until Borger had their strike in the next half inning, Makayli DeLeon got on base with a lead-off walk. After an Abby Willis sacrifice bunt that advanced DeLeon a base, Kristen Money recorded her walk. She then would steal second to get into scoring position. Reagan Cantu then recorded a RBI double that would see Borger take a 2-1 lead. Lanee Willis, sister of Abby, followed up with a RBI single on the second pitch, and extending the Lady Bulldog lead to 3-1 after three and a half innings.
The Lady Cats stayed within striking distance, tacking on a run in their fourth inning showing behind fielding errors from Borger.
Velasquez stole home after a wild pitch to cut the Borger lead to 3-2. Another opportunity arose later in the inning where Wilkins and Nebhut got on base after getting hit by pitches. They were left stranded as Borger eventually retired the side.
Heading in late in the game, the defense was crucial for River Road.
The Lady Cats went three up and three down after cutting the lead to one and allowed the offense to attempt to tie the game.
Kimbrey Ovalle and Autumn Graff were able to get on base from consecutive fielding errors from the Addison Powell and Willis.
Heading to the sixth, Borger had one more push that would take back the lead.
Abby Willis recorded a lead off double to start the inning. Money and Amora Molinar each recorded sacrifice flyout to left and center field respectively that would bring in Willis, eventually taking the lead back 4-3. An opportunity to extend the lead was shown with Cantu and Lanee Willis getting on base after being hit by pitches. Both base runners would be left stranded on base as Reagan Watkins struck out swinging.
In the back-and-fourth battle between two teams who have had quality wins to start the young softball season, the Lady Cats had more runs in the tank to potentially win the game.
Alex Smith kicked off the inning with a lead off double to put pressure early. After a pitching change from Borger, more pressure would mount on the Lady Dog defense as Nebhut recorded a single to put runners of the corners. Despite going zero-for-three in her first three plate appearances, Shelbourne made her last appearance an important one, hitting a two-run RBI single that led the Lady Cats past Borger in a hard-fought contest.
Kristen Money received the nod for the Lady Bulldogs, as she pitched five innings, struck out six batters, walked one and allowed three runs on five hits. Willis came in as the closer, where she pitched a full inning and allowed two runs on three hits.
“I think we are getting pretty close to where we want to be before district.” said Hoobler.
“I’m looking forward how far we are going to get,” Velasquez said. “Once we start playing as a family, then we will have more success in the future.”
Velasquez picked up the win for the Lady Cats, where she pitched all seven innings striking out 10 batters, walked two, and allowed four runs on four hits.