FORT WORTH — Guyer assistant coach Ashton McBride and junior pitcher Shayne Starkey developed a plan to approach a stout Burleson Centennial lineup in the opening game of a best-of-three Class 4A area-round series on Thursday night.
For the most part, Starkey executed it to perfection, as she turned in a masterful 69-pitch complete game to take a series lead over the No. 7 ranked Spartans with a 6-1 victory.
“She’s extremely competitive,” Guyer head coach Keith Medford said. “When she’s on like that, she’s hard to beat. I think [McBride] had a really good plan on how to attack the batters, and I think Shayne was right on the money.”
Guyer (26-4) will have a chance at a series sweep in Game 2 of the best-of-three series tonight back at Saginaw at 7:30.
Starkey struck out three Centennial hitters and relied heavily upon her defense as she induced 10 groundball outs.
With an early 2-0 lead, the Spartans (26-4) threatened in the top of the fourth inning when they led the inning off with a single and an RBI triple to cut Guyer’s lead in half with no outs.
After that, sophomore third baseman Sophia Popowski made three consecutive plays in the field, including a lunging stab at a one-out line drive down the third-base line that would’ve scored the tying run.
“For a sophomore to come in and really her second playoff game ever — there’s high stakes — she was money over there,” Medford said. “We see that every day in practice. Those are plays that aren’t routine by any stretch. I think that kind of took the wind out of their sail.”
Starkey agreed, as she allowed just one baserunner the rest of the way — in the seventh inning on an error.
“I think they kind of flattened out a little after that, and at the same time I think it picked us up a lot,” Starkey said. “Sophia is a beast over there, and I trust her with my life. She was amazing tonight.”
Guyer also used its team speed to pressure Centennial into three errors that led to three unearned runs from the normally defensive sound Spartans.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hannah Hodapp added to Guyer’s lead with a two-out RBI single before stealing second base and scoring from second on an infield single from Starkey after narrowly avoiding a tag at home plate with an acrobatic slide.
With a win tonight, Guyer can move on to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2010, when it advanced to the Class 4A state tournament.
“We haven’t won the series by any stretch,” Medford said. “We have a ton of work to do before tomorrow. I know it sounds cliche, but I promise they [Centennial] won’t quit over there.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
Guyer 6, Burleson Centennial 1
WP — Shayne Starkey. LP — Ashlee Gibson. 3B — C: Madison Montgomery. Records — Burleson Centennial 26-4, Guyer 26-4.