PROSPER — Before the dark gray clouds moved across the sky and before rain could spoil play for a second straight day, Pilot Point emphatically earned its spot in the Class 2A state tournament.
In Game 2 of the Region II finals, the Lady Cats earned their second state softball tournament appearance with a dominating 10-0 victory over Brock. The game ended in the bottom of the fifth on the run rule.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Sierra Brooks hit a ball that trickled through the infield dirt and onto the outfield turf. As the game-ending run crossed home plate, the Lady Cats spilled out of their third-base dugout.
Pilot Point coach James Ramsey said Saturday’s performance was the best by his offense in the postseason. He said his team talked about ending things early — a feat accomplished largely because of the team’s torrid start.
“I think the kids were just ready to make a statement today,” Ramsey said.
The last time Pilot Point (38-2) reached the state tournament was in 2005, when the Lady Cats lost in the Class 3A semifinals.
Brock finished the year at 32-12.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series was moved from Saginaw Chisholm Trail to Prosper after rain soaked the field Friday and suspended the game in the top of the first inning.
Preslee Gallaway and Kalyn Salsman each homered to fuel the Lady Cats’ attack.
Brock coach Ryan Starnes said it was the first time his team lost back-to-back games this season and the first time his team was defeated by the mercy rule.
“That was probably the worst we played all year,” Starnes said. “I give credit to Pilot Point. They played well today, but we didn’t.”
Play picked up where it left off Friday, with Brock at the plate in the top of the first inning with runners on first and second and one out. Brock almost took an early lead after a bloop single by Jordin Alberton, but Gallaway threw a runner out at home plate to end the inning.
Ramsey said Gallaway’s play set the tone for the remainder of the game.
“To get them out at the plate, that was big because obviously they were trying to get a run early, and we were able to get the throw and the tag,” Ramsey said. “Just a great job.”
In the bottom of the first, Skylar Cagle singled and Gallaway, the fourth hitter in the lineup, launched a two-run homer over the left-field wall to give the Lady Cats a 2-0 lead. Salsman followed suit with a solo home run in the third inning, and the rout was on.
Gallaway went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk. Natalie Larson, Cagle and Allison Strittmatter each had two hits. Brooks went 3-for-4 with the series-clinching RBI.
Brock starting pitcher Morgan Ashmore was replaced by Krysten Marr after only 1 1/3 innings.
Cagle started for Pilot Point and allowed three hits and struck out six batters in the win.
Salsman, a senior, said their early offense gave the Lady Cats the momentum they needed to pick up the victory. Salsman’s home run added to the team’s growing momentum.
“It was like a dream come true,” Salsman said. “I knew Brock was going to come back hard today, but we wanted to come back harder, and as a senior, I wanted to make sure I did my part.”
After the game, the Lady Cats and their families posed for pictures as players leapt into each others’ arms. Ramsey, who will be making his first state tournament appearance, shed a few tears behind his sunglasses as a parade of people congratulated him for the win.
The Lady Cats are two wins away from the school’s first state softball championship. They will play in the semifinals Wednesday in Austin.
“In January, we said this team is awesome,” Gallaway said. “We’re going to state. We made that dream come true.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter @Ben_Baby.
Pilot Point 10, Brock 0 (5)
WP — Skylar Cagle. LP — Morgan Ashmore. 2B — B: Haley Hardison. PP: Haley Evans. HR — PP: Preslee Gallaway, Kalyn Salsman. Records — Pilot Point (38-2), Brock (32-12).