For the first time since last season’s regional quarterfinal loss to Peaster the Howe Lady Bulldogs were shutout, losing 5-0 at Lone Oak on April 7, capping a night when the Howe baseball team and both Van Alstyne teams also lost games.
After a diligent search of available records, this was the first time that four teams from Howe and Van Alstyne had all lost games on the same night since leisure suits were considered fresh.
Lone Oak pitcher Mariah Nichols is a college Division I signee (University of Memphis) and you can’t waste scoring opportunities against a pitcher of this caliber.
Howe had doubles in each of the first two innings, but could not advance the runners.
With two out in the first, senior Madisyn Hargrove doubled and was left stranded by a Nichols strike out.
Senior Kayla Anderson doubled in the second and a sacrifice bunt by senior Dani Ross moved Anderson to third. She was left stranded as Nichols recorded her fourth strikeout of the game. She finished with 13 strikeouts in the contest.
Howe junior Torrey Stubblefield was matching Nichols from the circle, fanning 11 and giving up just three hits in six innings of work.
Junior Erin Blackburn and Hargrove each had a pair of hits in four plate appearances.
Senior Emily Sanders, junior Payton Griffin and Anderson each had a hit in the contest.
Sanders and Hargrove each had singles in the top of the third, but two fielder’s choice hits erased the lead runners, and Howe could not push across a run.
Lone Oak got on the board in the third as back-to-back walks set the table for a 3-run home run by Nichols, giving the Lady Buffaloes a 3-0 advantage.
Lone Oak added two runs in the fifth as Moser doubled to open the inning and Kearney singled, moving Moser to third.
Kearney advanced to second on defensive indifference, and Moser scored on a sacrifice fly by Nichols.
Kearney scored on the only Howe error of the game, bumping the lead to 5-0.
The Lady Bulldogs had one final scoring opportunity, getting a pair of runners on in the top of the seventh inning.
Senior Madee Mullins reached on a dropped third strike and moved to second on a single by Blackburn.
Two consecutive ground outs erased the lead runners, ending that last-chance threat by the Lady Bulldogs.
Howe, 6-3, will have three games left in the regular season, and any win will secure a playoff berth for the Lady Bulldogs.
Howe will close out the regular season with an April 18 game at home against Van Alstyne.