It was also a 1-0 win on Thursday over Early that advanced the Lady ’Horns into the title game. GW’s Maggie Ham knocked in the winning run in the 11th inning in that semifinal contest.
It took eight innings on Saturday for the two combatants, George West and defending champion Brock, to score one run as both pitchers dueled it out. That lone run came in the bottom of the eighth with the GW Lady Horns doing the damage with a two-out rally.
Both teams had chances during the extra-inning affair but neither pitcher gave in to the other side. Brock’s Linsey Hays put out fires in the fourth and the sixth but kept the Lady Horns from scoring.
GW’s Ham stopped the Eagles’ lone threat in the top of the fourth. A leadoff infield single and a passed ball had a Brock runner on second. A stolen base then moved the runner to third with just one out. Ham got two strikes on Eagle Kourtney Lowe, the next hitter, who then tried a squeeze but fouled off the pitch for the second out. Ham then closed the door on Brock by striking out Morgan Ashmore for the final out of the inning, stranding the Eagle runner at third.
It appeared as though it was going to go nine innings or more before a decision would come. In the bottom of the eighth, Hays struck out the first two GW batters she faced but that brought her pitching adversary Ham to the plate. Ham had already gathered three hits on the day off Hays.
Ham fouled off a few pitches before sending a fly down the right field line. Eagle Shambry Sanders got a glove on it but had to dive for it. The ball juggled around in her hands for a moment and then fell to the turf. Ham was already on second base and cheering on the next Lady Horn hitter, senior Kayla Krietsch.
“I stepped into the batter’s box and I was like, ‘No matter what, I’m going to get this hit and we’re going to score and we’re going to win the championship,’” Krietsch said to the assembled media after the game.
Krietsch’s looping fly to left glanced off the glove of the Eagle left fielder for a double and Ham raced home with the winning and lone run of the game. It was Krietsch’s only hit in the tournament. It could not have come at a better time for the Lady Horns.
Ham earned the title game’s MVP award for her great pitching and hitting efforts. Ham went a perfect four for four at the plate. She went the distance in the circle and struck out 16 Eagles to tie a UIL record in the state tournament.
“I can’t say enough about Maggie. She got the hits and was on base the whole game and she got a lot of strikeouts (while pitching),” said head coach Chuck Pawelek after the game.
Ham allowed just three hits over her eight innings of work and did not issue a walk. The count reached three balls a few times but the junior hurler always seemed to find the strike zone when she needed.
Only two seniors will not be returning for the Lady Horns next year. A return trip to state will definitely be the goal for the Lady Horns, who finished the season with a 33-6 record.
Bruce Harper is the sports editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 123, or at sports@mySouTex.com.