ALEDO — In typical playoff fashion, Guyer and Aledo played toward a pitchers’ stalemate for much of Wednesday night’s Class 4A area-round series opener.
After not scoring despite getting at least one hit per inning, the Ladycats finally broke through with a one-out, two-run single from third baseman Ally Gabbert in the bottom of the sixth to give Aledo a 2-0 win and a 1-0 series advantage heading into Game 2, which is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Guyer.
“We were under pressure,” Guyer coach Keith Medford said. “We responded great all night. You keep doing that, though, and it’s going to come back to haunt you. It’s a playoff game. It’s usually decided by one inning in a playoff game. Defensively, we were sharp, it’s just one of those nights. They just beat us. They played a little bit better than we did.”
After managing a hit an inning off Guyer pitcher Suzette Palmer for the first five frames but coming up empty-handed each time, Aledo got its offense rolling in the sixth.
It started with a lined shot to lead off the inning from Kori Kizer that deflected off the glove of freshman shortstop Tara Solomon. The next batter, Kadyn Kirkpatrick, laid down what was intended to be a sacrifice bunt between the Guyer catcher and first baseman, but neither player picked the ball up.
By the time first baseman Shayne Starkey collected the ball, Kizer had rounded second and was headed for third base to beat the tag from Hannah Hodapp, putting runners on the corners with no outs.
A squeeze bunt attempt from Alli Ramsey was corralled by catcher Megan Washam, who applied the tag to the runner for the first out. That brought Gabbert to the plate with runners on second and third. On a 1-0 count, she laced a liner just to right of Starkey at first to score both runners.
“I think they’re a lot like us,” Medford said of Aledo. “They attack strikes. We were attacking strikes; we just didn’t have anything to show for it. We had some hard-hit balls that were caught and a few pop-ups. The girl [Aledo pitcher Lauren Craine] was spinning the ball. She did a great job against us.”
Craine kept Guyer’s big bats at bay all night, scattering three singles over three innings and needing just 71 pitches, while living on the outside corner, to throw a complete-game shutout.
“That’s her job,” Aledo coach Jeff Lemons said. “You have to figure out what the umpire’s strike zone is. Once he establishes it, if it’s consistent, she has excellent control and she can put it right there. She did a great job of keeping them off balance and going inside and out and not just letting them sit on the outside pitch.”
The Lady Wildcats hit the ball hard at times, but the shots went right to a good group of defensive players for the Ladycats.
Following a Kennedy Been single in the top of the seventh, Kylie Miyata hit an 0-1 pitch to the right-center field gap. Right fielder Tori Gore chased the ball down and laid out, crashing to the ground with the ball in her glove to end the game and send Aledo to Guyer on Friday with a series advantage.
Lemons said his team was nervous going into the game against a Guyer team that finished in third place in one of the tougher districts in the state, while Aledo cruised to a 14-0 record in a relatively weak District 7-4A.
The Ladycats’ closest wins this year were 6-0 and 9-0, both against Granbury. They lost to LaGrange and Guyer in tournaments and to South Grand Prairie in their season opener.
“Coming in we just weren’t sure what we had,” Lemons said. “Our district was what it was. It’d been awhile since we’ve had a challenge, and it was interesting to see how we’d come out. We came out and played pretty well.”
Now with their backs against the wall in Friday’s Game 2, Medford said he hopes the Lady Wildcats come out and play like they have all year on their home field to send the series to a third and decisive game on Saturday.
“We’re at home, and we’ve been really good at home,” Medford said. “We just have to take care of business at home like we have a lot this year. I don’t know what our home record is, but it’s good. Hopefully we’ll get there and put a few runs up.”
ALEDO 2, GUYER 0
WP — Lauren Craine. LP — Suzette Palmer (18-5). Records — Guyer (24-6-1). Aledo (33-3).