Fans were treated to a classic pitchers duel Friday night at North Shore High School were the Kingwood Lady Mustangs’ ace pitcher, Amanda Crabtree, out-pitched Amanda Newberry and the LaPorte Lady Bulldogs in a 14 inning marathon 1-0 victory.
The Lady Mustangs were in a must-win situation of the best-of-three series due to their loss the previous evening, 4-1.
Crabtree, a senior at Kingwood and recent Oklahoma State signee struck out 14 Bulldog batters. She was supported by excellent defense in the field, anchored by sophomore shortstop Courtney Enocksen, improving her pitching record to 18-5.
Pitching was definitely a premium as Kingwood could manage only seven hits over the 14 innings and LaPorte, only six.
The Lady Mustangs had a golden opportunity to score in the bottom of the second inning as Crabtree led off with a single to center field. Enocksen followed with a hard shot to the pitcher who managed to get the out at second, but could not get Encoksen out at first to complete the double play. Enocksen advanced to second on an error by the catcher and attempted to score the first run when Landry Moore doubled to center field. LaPorte center fielder Lauren Bunch threw a laser to the home getting Enocksen out before she could score.
Neither team could mount a scoring threat until the 12th inning when LaPorte DH Tori Cummings lead off with a double. Chelsea Sanchez followed with a walk and Lacey Olive laid down a sacrifice allowing both runners to advance. With runners on second and third and only one out, Crabtree buckled down, induced a ground-out and struck out the next batter to end the threat.
The bottom of the 14th began with Mustang, Amber Klug reaching first on an error. Kelly Lyman followed with a single to left pushing Lyman to second. With two outs, Crabtree stepped up to the plate and lined a single to centerfield. Again Bunch came up gunning for home, but Klug slid to the outside of the plate barely touching it with her hand and avoiding the tag for the Kingwood win.
Saturday afternoon was the deciding game with the winner advancing to face top-ranked Pearland. After throwing well over 200 pitches Friday night, Crabtree took the mound again and threw a one-hit shutout as Kingwood run-ruled LaPorte 10-0. Just as they did last night, the Kingwood defense flashed their leather all over the field.
“I am very pleased with our defense and their ability to not commit any errors,” Coach Susan Willis said. “And what you can say about Amanda (Crabtree)? She really stepped up to pitch again with so little rest.”
Kingwood brought their offensive game Saturday, pounding out 10 runs in five innings. RBI hits came from Lyman, Crabtree and Enocksen in the first three innings pushing the score to 5-0 in favor of Kingwood. Five more runs scored in the fifth as Crabtree and Bergeron tripled, Klug doubled and sophomore Sarah Reid singled to finish the attack.
Next on the Mustang’s plate is Pearland who has a long history of playoff success. They also boast pitcher Rhianon Klesling who has already signed with softball powerhouse Texas A & M. Next week’s times and locations will be determined later in the week.
Photo: Amanda Crabtree attempts to continue the offensive onslaught against LaPorte in a bi-district playoff game. Photo by Terry Roberts
The Mustangs lost some ground in the District 21-5A race last week after losing the season series against the Bruins of Beaumont's West Brook High School. To their surprise, district leader Baytown Sterling lost to their crosstown rival opening the door for Kingwood to climb back to the top of the district. In order to do that, they had to take care of their own business, beginning with Humble Tuesday night at KHS.
Kingwood came out looking for revenge from their defeat earlier in the year at the hands of the Wildcats. Chris Churchwell toed the rubber for the Mustangs looking to pave the way for their victory. His crafty pitching stymied the Humble batters, allowing only one hit through five innings.
As Churchwell took care of business on the mound, Mike Pierce took care of business at the plate. Pierce went 3 for 3 with four RBI's, including a three-run home run adding to his ever-growing statistics this season. The Mustangs scored their first run in the bottom of the first inning when David Tittle doubled to left center. Brad Evans stepped up to the plate and drove Evans home with a clutch single, giving Kingwood a 1-0 lead.
After a scoreless second inning, Humble managed to tie the game on a solo home run off the bat of Worsham. Churchwell did not allow that to rattle him and continued to set down the rest of the Wildcat batters in order ending the inning, 1-1.
Pierce made his first impact of the game in the bottom of the third inning when his single down the right field line scored Jordan Brewster. Evans, who was hit by a pitch, moved to third base on Pierce's hit and scored on a groundout from Rocky Prestifillipo.
Climbing back on the mound and now leading 3-1, Churchwell continued his domination by retiring the next seven batters in order, keeping his team in the lead and cementing victory. Even though three runs were more than enough on this night, Pierce and company were not through making noise and giving the Humble pitching a staff a headache.
The bottom of the fifth inning started off with more Mustang base-runners littering the base paths. Pierce stepped to plate, hoping to clean it up a little and clean it up he did with a resounding three-run home run and a 6-1 lead. Jordan Raney answered that with a two-run blast of his own in the bottom of the sixth, capping off the scoring at 8-1.
Kingwood coach David Denny pulled Churchwell after five innings, allowing Pierce to shut the door for good. He and Churchwell combined on a six strikeout, one hit performance that gave Kingwood the revenge they were looking for and a chance at taking the district race down to the wire. Next on the Mustang radar is Atascocita, who is looking for some revenge of their own, Tuesday night at Kingwood high school.
Photo: Kingwood pitcher Chris Churchwell struck out six and only allowed one hit in his victory over Humble. Photo by Wesley Orton
It could be billed as modern day David versus Goliath, part two. Baytown Sterling came into the game with only two district losses, a bigger team, a more powerful lineup and one of the best players in the Houston area, Chase Dempsay. What they didn't have was team chemistry, lock-down defense and Johnny Dziedzic.
With a win, Atascocita would put themselves in a position to be district champions in their first year of existence. A loss would muddle up an already crowded mass for the final two playoff spots in District 21-5A. So much was at stake that it didn't take coach Eric Matthews long to figure out who was going to pitch. Dziedzic leads the team in wins, strikeouts and earned run average. AHS has ridden his arm all season and were confident going into Friday night's game against the first place Rangers.
Sterling was clearly pumped up for the game and came out swinging. Two of the first three batters reached base on singles and Baytown scored their first run off the bat of center fielder Hunter Cervenka. Dziedzic buckled down and struck out the final two batters, limiting the damage to one run.
Atascocita did their best to counter in the first by getting runners to second and third with one out. Clay Shrader stepped up to the plate and hit the ball hard right to the second baseman who doubled off Grant Clyde, ending the Eagle threat.
Dziedzic took the mound in the second with confidence and retired the next three batters in order. Once again the Eagles threatened when Bronson Buell singled and moved to third on a lazy pop fly from KJ Semien. Clutch hitting failed the team as Dempsay retired the final two batters. The Eagle hitters appeared to be the least of Baytown's problems as Dempsay openly questioned the effort of his center fielder, Cervanka on the pop fly single. Sterling coaches had to restrain the two players, but the damage was already done and that lack of chemistry would be their undoing.
Trevor Swint did his best to put it behind him and gave Sterling a 2-0 lead with a lead-off home run in the third inning. For now, Baytown was unified as momentum swung their way. With one swing, the warrior in Dziedzic was awakened as he struck out the next three batters, including Dempsay, seemingly with ease.
For the third straight inning, Atascocita was able to get runners on the bases and it finally paid off. Chris Martinez led off the inning by getting hit with a Dempsay fastball. He shook it off by stealing second and proceeding to third on a fielder's choice groundout from Jordan Wilson. Grant Clyde's deep fly out to center scored Martinez, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
The score remained at 2-1 until the bottom of the fifth inning when Dempsay was pulled due to fatigue. Colton Pickens took the mound for the Rangers and Atascocita jumped at the chance to welcome the new pitcher. With one out, Wilson walked and moved to second on a Clyde single. Shrader attempted to bunt the runners over, but the quickness of the Ranger pitcher allowed him to throw out Wilson at third. Two outs in the inning and the Eagles knew they had to do something before the game slipped away.
Coach Matthews signaled for a double steal and it paid off when the Sterling catcher overthrew third allowing Clyde to tie the game. Buell then hit a hard grounder off the glove of the second baseman, driving in the go ahead run, 3-2. The Eagle fans and players celebrated their first lead of the game, with six out standing in between them a season sweep.
Dziedic climbed the mound once again in the sixth having already struck out seven Sterling batters. Baytown aimed to regain the lead and seemed on their way to doing just that when Dempsay avenged his earlier strikeout by lining a double down the left field line. Advancing to third on a groundout, another tie was only a few feet away. Baytown's Sam Lindsey hit a line drive into left field right into the glove of a running Shrader. Dempsay tagged third and headed for home, but Shrader made sure the ball beat him to the plate and ended the Ranger chance as catcher Tim Porter received the throw on target and tagged out the runner.
“My eyes got big when I saw Dempsay tagging up. I knew he wouldn't be able to beat my throw,” Shrader said after the game.
Even though he appeared to get tired in the previous inning, Dziedzic toed the rubber in an effort to finish what he started. “I was pumped up after that play and had some problems with my control, but coach came out and settled me down. I just tried to hit my spots and throw strikes,” Dziedzic said.
He did just that and after allowing a lead-off single and a one-out walk in the seventh, Dziedzic proceeded to get the next two Sterling batters out, earning a 3-2 victory and securing a spot in the playoffs.
“The key was a never quit attitude,” coach Matthews said. “This is a very powerful lineup and Dziedzic did what he needed to do to give us a chance to win.”
Photo: Grant Clyde slides in with the Eagles first run. Photo by Wesley Orton
In today’s sports scene there is a myriad of opportunities to get young kids and teenagers involved. Outside of school sports, the spring and summer is loaded with various community leagues, select sports teams and the occasional sports camp. All of these opportunities are important to creating a diverse and exciting sports culture, as well as challenging our youth in areas of social importance.
Journalistic outposts, such as The Tribune¸ have a fond desire to inform our communities of this culture and to celebrate in their accomplishments. However, as many of these different events occur simultaneously or in different locations, we are unable to give proper coverage to all the leagues.
That is where you, the parent, come into play. As you are joyfully watching your child compete and beaming with pride, you look around and tell yourself that more people should know of the great things occurring in your sport.
Like most parents, you take a great picture of your youth in the act of playing and you jot down their statistics for the game. Another mother sees you writing and thinks to herself that it would be great if she could record her child’s statistics but doesn’t have anything to write on. She leans over and asks you to include her child. Before you know it, you are taking notice of the how the team did as a whole and noting who had the best performance of the game.
After the event, you go home look at the pictures you have taken and wonder how you could inform the community of this great team. The local newspaper comes to mind and you get excited at the thought of seeing your child and the entire team mentioned in the paper.
Does the paper really care, you wonder? The answer is emphatically, “YES, The Tribune does care and we want to see those pictures and read those write-ups of the events.”
We would love to show off your sports team to the community, but we need your assistance in doing so. As you are sitting in the stands or in your collapsible chairs along the sidelines, take a couple of great pictures and note the names of those in the picture. Jot down how your team did and who displayed the best performance. Tell us, overall, how your team ranks in the community league, package all that together and send it to us.
For two years the Humble Cobras 14U Blue have been taking on all opponents and making their name known. Based out of Lyndsey Lyons Park, the team is comprised of girls from Atascocita, Humble, Huffman and Liberty. Coached by Mark Tucker the team is managed by Steve Freshour and assistant coaches, Tom Blackwell and Jack McCulloch. The team has ran off a record of 70-16-5 and is hoping to do even better in the next few weeks.
“Although these girls have never played together as a team, they meshed very quickly,” Tucker said. Their record definitely testifies to that statement. The Cobras currently play in tournaments in and around the Houston Metro area. Their schedule gets ramped up in May as they will play almost every weekend. Most of the tournaments have the team playing 10 or more games in 2 days, so these girls have trained themselves and are ready to take on any challenges as they press on toward the championships.
With such a demanding schedule, the coaches realize they could not do it without the help of a dedicated group of parents. “Our parents are the best. Their commitment to this team is to be commended. I could not ask for a better group,” Tucker said.
This summer will bring national tournament challenges as the team travels to Auroa, CO in June and then the USFA National Tournament in Panama, FL at the end of June. The Colorado tournament is by invitation only and will have college scouts eagerly seeking the next big thing in their sports. To help with the cost of these events the team will be holding several fundraisers in the coming months.
“I want to thank the Humble Girls Softball League for allowing us to be part of their organization,” Tucker said. “Our girls will represent the community with pride.”
Photo: The Humble Cobras Blue are ready to take on the nation this summer.
The Lady Wildcats took advantage of 12 walks and two hit batsmen by Port Arthur Memorial Titan pitchers in route to an 18-1 victory Friday night at Wildcat Field.
The Port Arthur Memorial Titans were never in the game as senior hurler Dana Palms made quick work of the Titan hitters. Palms used a great fastball with excellent location to strikeout five of the six hitters she faced in only two innings of work. Palms no-hit the Titans the first two innings allowing zero baserunners facing the minimum number of batters.
The Titans did not fare much better against reliever Kayla Dykman in the third inning as she only allowed an infield single and one run. The Wildcat pitchers combined for a one-hit six strike-out performance.
Humble's offense got off to a quick start in the bottom of the first inning as they scored 11 runs with the big blow coming on a inside the park grand slam from
catcher Raelynn Gresham. Third baseman Heather Schwalbach also hammered out a single in the inning that seemed to never end.
The second inning was deja-vu all over again as the Titan pitcher continued to struggle to find the strike zone allowing five more free passes to Wildcat hitters.
Unfortunately for the Titans when the ball did find the plate the Lady Cats took advantage.
Dana Palms helped her cause offensively with two doubles and Shelby Worrell added another double as Humble took a commanding 18-0 lead after two complete innings of play.
Port Arthur did manage to score one run in the third inning as coach Carol Sullivan substituted freely. The game ended after three innings due to the run rule effect.
Although the Humble Wildcats will not make the playoffs this year coach Sullivan was pleased to end the season with a convincing win. Sullivan also complimented this year's squad for the hard work and the effort they have displayed all season.
She praised the five seniors, Kayla Dykman, Jill Gardner, Dana palms, Letrece Shello, & Heather Schwalbach, not only for their softball ability but more importantly there character. "These are wonderful, amazing young women,”
Sullivan said. Humble softball will not begin work on next season with a district championship on their mind.
Photo: Friday night's win over Port Arthur Memorial was the last game the Wildcat seniors would play together. It was an emotional evening for seniors Kayla Dykman, Latrece Shello, Heahter Schwalback, Dara Palms and Jill Gardner. Photo by Patsy Oliver
Photo: Kayla Dykman played first base in innings one and two and finished the game as relief pitcher for an easy win Friday night. Photo by Patsy Oliver