McKINNEY — All things considered, the Pilot Point Lady Cats hung with Lone Oak in Game 1 of their Class 3A Region II quarterfinal series.
Pilot Point pitcher Christine Billmeier struck out 10, but a few costly minutes in the second inning were enough for the Lady Buffs as they posted five runs and rode Mariah Nichols' 12 strikeouts to a 6-1 victory.
"Christine threw pretty well," Pilot Point coach James Ramsey said. "I think she had a slow start. She got in her groove after the second inning. Their pitcher is a power pitcher, throwing 63-64 miles an hour. She throws all the pitches. She's got a great rise ball. She's the real deal."
Lone Oak (29-5) pressured Pilot Point in nearly every inning and broke through in the crucial second.
A leadoff single from Lone Oak got things started. Despite back-to-back strikeouts from Billmeier, the Lady Buffs used a single, two steals and a walk to load the bases. Alexis Kearney sent a fly ball over the left fielder's head to clear the bases and give Lone Oak a 3-0 advantage.
The next batter was Nichols, who sent a shot off the center field wall, giving her enough time to round the bases for an inside-the-park home run to inflate the lead to 5-0.
"We had the leadoff hitter down 0-2 and we should have led the inning off with an out," Ramsey said. "That was big. We just didn't make the plays. They got some extra chances and they came up with some timely hits. They got the hits we didn't. It wasn't our night. They strung some hits together and made us pay."
Pilot Point (30-2-2) struggled to get the bat on the ball, striking out twice to Nichols in both the second and third innings.
Each team went 1-2-3 in the fourth, and it was Lone Oak that added an insurance run in the fifth. After an error at first moved a runner to second, Ashley Isenburg's RBI single pushed the lead to 6-0.
Pilot Point got on the board with an RBI single from Mercedez Lane, but Nichols shut down the Lady Cats in the seventh to close out the game.
The teams return to McKinney Boyd for Game 2 at 7 p.m. Friday.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Lone Oak 6, Pilot Point 1
WP - Mariah Nichols. LP - Christine Billmeier. 2B - P: Jordan David. HR - L: Nichols.