After the first two days of action at the 2014 GCEC-Lady Panther Classic at Forrest Moore Park in Van Alstyne, most softball fans were looking forward to a Van Alstyne vs. Howe rematch in the championship game to be played on Saturday.
The Lady Bulldogs got off to a 4-0 start to match Van Alstyne’s record over its first four games. Howe gave up just two runs in that four-game start and went into Saturday’s game-six action with Sanger looking for a win to keep its championship hopes alive.
The Lady Bulldogs left two runners stranded in the top half of the first inning as Jaida Upchurch and Peyton Tinney collected two-out singles off of Sanger pitcher Kelly Ordonez. Ordonez got the final out to end the threat.
Freshman Madisyn Hargrove took the circle for Howe, and after the Lady Indians had scored an unearned run in the first she worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second with no scoreboard damage.
A single and triple in the Sanger third inning provided the winning margin for the Lady Indians.
Howe used its speed advantage to produce a run in the bottom of the fifth, using a walk, stolen base and an error, as courtesy runner Aurian James scored for the Lady Bulldogs. Ordonez left Christina Counts stranded at third, striking out two to get out of that jam.
Junior Peyton Tinney, a transfer from Tom Bean, was one of Howe’s leading hitters in the tournament, along with Upchurch, Hargrove and another first-year player, Emily Sanders.
Allison Streetman will probably be the Lady Bulldogs’ first-line pitcher. Streetman, a sophomore, got some varsity action last season and she also brings an offensive punch to the lineup.
Bradi Slawson, Dani Ross and Kayla Anderson will play key roles for the Howe program this season.
The Lady Bulldogs have a ton of speed in their lineup and coach Jennifer Sluder hopes that will translate into a playoff caliber season for her team.
"I think we are pretty solid from top to bottom but at the same time we have a lot of inexperienced players in key positions for us." Sluder said.
Whitesboro, Whitewright and Callisburg were the three playoff teams from District 11-2A last season and the Lady Tigers from Whitewright have gotten off to an 11-0 start.
"Whitewright and Whitesboro should be the top two teams because of experience but I think we have a chance to be in the mix as well," Sluder said. "We’re going to find out how good we are early, playing in Whitewright in our second game."
The Lady Bulldogs jump right into district play after the Van Alstyne tournament so things will get interesting from here on out.
Howe 14, Pottsboro 1 (5)
Things were not very interesting for Pottsboro as it visited the Ballpark at Howe on Feb. 25 to open the District 11-2A softball season.
The Lady Bulldogs sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom half of the first inning, scoring five runs as they got off to a 5-0 start.
Howe scored in every inning, putting up another five runs in the third to take the run-rule win.
Peyton Tinney was 3-for-3, with a walk and she drove in two runs with a pair of doubles to lead the hit parade. Dani Ross had a 3-for-3 night, driving in a pair of runs and senior Jaida Upchurch had two doubles in her first two trips and was robbed in the third inning when left fielder Jessica Barnett pulled down a long drive.
Senior Makenzie Duffee came off the bench to pick up a couple of hits in two trips to the plate.
Allison Streetman went through the lineup one time without giving up a hit as she fanned seven off the nine batters she faced in that span.
Kelli Frye spoiled the outing with a leadoff triple in the fourth and scored on a ground out, for the only Pottsboro run.
The competition will get a lot tougher on March 4 when the Lady Bulldogs travel to Whitewright to take on the Lady Tigers.
Pottsboro 0-0-0-1-0 — 1
Howe 5-2-5-2-x — 14
Howe (1-0) WP-Streetman
2b-Upchurch (2), Tinney (2), Ross,Christina Counts,Kayla Anderson.