WHITEHOUSE, Texas — Seventh-ranked Hughes Springs scored late to avoid the shutout, but it was No. 1 ranked Emory Rains that reigned supreme in the Region II-3A semifinal series opener Thursday at Lady Cat Field.
Senior pitcher Sage Hoover hurled a 2-hitter, and her Lady Wildcats took advantage of struggles in the circle and on defense by the Lady Mustangs to win, 9-1.
The second game will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday, and should Hughes Springs win, a third game will follow in the best-of-3 series. The winners advances to next week's regional championship against either Grandview or West Rusk.
Hoover threw 96 pitches, collected 11 strikeouts, walked none but hit two batters, one leading to the Mustangs' lone run.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Shea Nelson was hit by a pitch. Karmen Searcy ripped a stand-up double into the left field corner to plate Nelson from first.
Gracie Pippin took the loss for Hughes Springs (26-5). She went all seven innings, threw 168 pitches, allowed seven hits, struck out seven but walked 11. She was charged with nine runs — four earned.
Rains (34-1) broke through when a steady drizzle brought the umbrellas out in the top of the third inning. By the time the light rain stopped, the Wildcats led 4-0.
The Wildcats worked a pair of one-out walks, and Leo Terry advanced to third on a wild pitch. She scored the initial run on a bunt single by Chanlee Oakes. Mia Cason picked up an RBI on a groundout, and Cambree Oakes doubled over the center fielder's head to make it 3-0.
A throwing error allowed Cambree Oakes to score before Hughes Springs got out of the inning on a strikeout, leaving two stranded.
Rains loaded the bases in the fourth on a pair of walks and Terry's line drive to center. A throwing error to the plate on a fielder's choice scored two Wildcats, and a third came home on a groundout to third. Sarah Coffman's soft liner to center made it 8-0.
In the seventh, Terry doubled with one down, was wild-pitched to third and scored on a groundout. Terry had three of Rains' seven hits.