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Softball: Pilot Point clinches 9-3A title with win over Gunter

The first inning between Gunter and Pilot Point was an omen.

Lady Cats pitcher Christine Billmeier was dealing. She fanned the side on the way to 11 strikeouts and Pilot Point used two runs in the first to claim a lead it would never relinquish Friday in a 9-1 victory.

Pilot Point moved to 10-0 in District 9-3A, clinching the district championship.

But for a program that has a sign at the entrance of its stadium touting a 2013 state championship among numerous accolades, the expectations are higher than district titles.

"We've got a lot of things we want to accomplish," Pilot Point coach James Ramsey said. "We celebrate it and we're proud of that, but we're definitely not going to rest on our laurels and say we're done. That kind of fed into this year's theme to 'take it back' and get Pilot Point softball back to where we are used to being — winning district championships and having success in the playoffs.

"We're proud of what we have built here at Pilot Point. We've had some great kids and it takes a lot of work. There are a lot of expectations here, but we accept that challenge and like it."

Offensively, the Lady Cats (25-1-2) were led by Hannah Sullivan. She went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk, supplying Pilot Point's opening runs on a two-run double to left after the Lady Cats drew two walks.

"She was big for us today driving in those runs with timely hits when we needed it," Ramsey said. "She is one of our captains and she leads in a lot of ways. She stepped up for us many times. Offensively, we had several kids that had big hits."

Billmeier picked up right where she left off in the first inning in the second, notching two more strikeouts.

Routinely hitting 60 and 61 mph with her fastball, Billmeier peppered the strike zone and baffled batters with changeups.

"I'm pretty high up speed-wise, so it definitely works to my advantage against the inexperienced batters, and I just kind of mess with their heads with the difference between my fastball and my changeup," Billmeier said. "I had to come out strong because I knew I had to make it count, hold them, let my team come in and bat and score runs like we did."

After Billmeier picked up her seventh and eighth strikeouts in the top of the fourth, the Lady Cats used an RBI double from Mercedez Lane and an RBI single from Sullivan to claim a 4-0 lead.

Two more strikeouts for Billmeier in the fifth led to another scoring inning, as Dani Medina drove in a run on an infield single to make it 5-0.

"When she is doing well in the circle, the team kind of feeds off of that, and early on it fed into our offense getting two runs really quick," Ramsey said.

Gunter scored on a passed ball in the sixth, but Pilot Point responded with a four-run outburst.

After a leadoff walk, Sullivan dished another RBI double to boost the lead to 6-1. An RBI ground out by Jordan David made it 7-1, and Medina struck again with a two-run double.

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.

Pilot Point 9, Gunter 1

Gunter 000 001 0 -- 1 2 0
Pilot Point 200 214 X -- 9 9 1

WP - Christine Billmeier. LP - Elizabeth Schroder. 2B - G: Elizabeth Schroder. P: Mercedez Lane, Hannah Sullivan (2), Dani Medina.