By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
Behind solid pitching and a surge of power at the plate, host Highland Park shut out W.T. White 10-0 to complete a sweep of its Class 6A Region II bi-district playoff series on Saturday.
Katie Bell pitched another gem, striking out five and allowing no runs for the second consecutive game, while Sunny Bowden hit two doubles and drove in two runs.
“We’re pretty deep, but not at pitcher,” said HP head coach Meredith Townsend. “Katie is our ace, and just like Thursday, she threw another great game.”
Bell pitched a one-hitter in Thursday’s 5-0 victory, and allowed just three hits on Saturday for her second shutout in three days.
HP, which earned the first district title in program history during the regular season, next faces a rematch against Rockwall in the area round. The Lady Jackets eliminated the Lady Scots with a decisive sweep a year ago.
“Rockwall knocked us out last year in the second round, so we have deemed this next week as Revenge Week,” said Townsend. “They’ve had our number in years past including last season’s playoff series, but it’s a new year and we’ve grown since then.”
On Saturday, HP jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning, and went on top 5-0 after Amanda Reenan took a 1-0 pitch deep over the left field fence. It was the first of two solo home runs for the Lady Scots, the other coming from Rennie Orr to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning.
“Unlike Thursday’s game, we were very patient at the plate,” said Townsend. “The two home runs were great, but we also hit the ball very well with runners in scoring position.”
The bottom of the second inning was a perfect reflection of Townsend’s thoughts. Leading 7-0 with two outs, Bell drew a walk and Sarah Hall took first as a courtesy runner.
Hall stole second, her first of two stolen bases on the day, and scored on Olivia Davis’ RBI single up the middle to increase the lead to 8-0.
“We’re a very young team with only one starting senior, and we battled at the plate today facing an elite pitcher,” said WTW head coach Mark Stout. “We lost six seniors from last year and accomplished more than many expected this season playing a difficult schedule.”
The Lady Longhorns, who finished fourth in District 9-6A during the regular season, hope the postseason experience will be valuable going forward.
“We’re that team with girls who sprint down the first base line after a walk,” said Stout. “With youth comes inconsistency but that will improve with experience, so we’re excited for next season because nearly the entire team is coming back.”