The Carrollton High School softball team overcame a pair of one-run deficits to prevail in a 3-2, 10-inning region thriller over Kell on Thursday night to extend its win streak to nine in a row.
Down to their final out in the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Trojans (9-1, 6-0 Region 7-AAAAA) finally got on the board after stranding runners in scoring position in four of the first six innings and then erased another one-run deficit in the final frame as senior left fielder Montana Dallas delivered an RBI single to pull even and sophomore center fielder Scout Jennings belted a walk-off RBI double to end the nail-biter under the lights.
The Lady Longhorns (3-4, 3-3) have been one of the few teams to defeat Carrollton in region play in recent years — including winning on the Lady Trojans' home field in each of the past two seasons — and they certainly gave a valiant effort once again on Thursday with several tremendous defensive plays to thwart scoring chances for Lisa Phillips' squad.
"Every game at home with them is always interesting. We just had a lot of missed opportunities. We had some people on base and they'd make a great play or we'd not hit a ball very well. We missed a couple of opportunities to move runners over and it really hurt us. But the good news is we came out with a win and our kids just continue to grind and continue to believe and finally we got those big hits to help us win it," Phillips said.
Along with some late-inning magic offensively, the Lady Trojans received another fabulous performance from hurler Olivia Fannin in the circle.
The junior right-hander allowed just one hit through regulation — a second-inning double by Kell catcher Lexie Scarpantonio — and only two on the night, the other being an infield single in the 10th, as she struck out 15 with one walk and two hit batsmen.
"She pitched a heck of a game. She made some big pitches throughout the game," Phillips said.
The Lady Trojans couldn't seem to catch a break for the better part of the contest, stranding runners at second base in the first, second and third innings and then getting runners on second and third with one out in the sixth and coming away empty.
But Carrollton kept plugging away and eventually came through, using a leadoff double by catcher Kylee Robertson in the bottom of the seventh to ignite the game-tying rally.
In the next at-bat, second baseman Allie Threadgill was ruled out on a sacrifice bunt attempt on a third-strike foul ball that the Carrollton staff argued stopped dead on the first-base line, leaving a runner on second with one out rather than first and third and no outs.
Kell then had Carrollton down to its final out on a diving catch by center fielder Valarie Artigues, but a two-out error off the bat of Dallas — who just missed a walk-off home run on the previous pitch that just sailed foul — tied the game at 1-all. Dallas stole second to put herself in scoring position, but Fannin's line drive was snared by Lady Longhorn third baseman Hannah Johnson for the final out, forcing extra innings.
Following two scoreless frames, the game went to the international tie-breaker in the top of the 10th.
Kell had an infield single to put runners on first and third with no outs and an RBI sac fly from Artigues to retake the lead, but Fannin induced a pop-up back to the circle and a punchout to leave a runner stranded at third, which proved huge in the grand scheme of things.
Carrollton started the bottom of the 10th with Carlie Monsour on second and Dallas immediately brought her home with an RBI single to pull back even at 2-all.
After Fannin lined out to center, Kate Albertus reached on an error, which opened the gates for the big knock from Jennings to close out the ballgame.
Jennings (3-for-5, SB, 2B, RBI) led the offensive charge, while Dallas (2-for-4, run, RBI) and Fannin (2-for-5, 2B) also had multiple-hit efforts for Carrollton.
Although it was nerve-wracking at times, Phillips said these are the kind of games her young squad needs to endure over the course of the season to prepare for the pressure of postseason play later this fall.
"We start six sophomores. So we're very young still and that's a good growing experience for them and those are the kind of games that pay off in the end of the year if you can grind one out and get a little confidence," Phillips said.
Carrollton Junior High 17, Temple 7: The Lady Trojans were led by Avery Riley with the win in the circle, while Olivia Mason had the save. Mason was also 2-for-3 at the plate and Emma Osborne was 3-for-4 with two RBI.