Howe 12, Van Alstyne 2 (5)
On a Senior Night in Howe, the Lady Bulldogs gifted the Van Alstyne Lady Panthers a pair of first inning runs, then hacked their way to a 12-2 run rule win on Wednesday night.
The win, Howe’s ninth in District 10-3A play, locks up second place in the district and the Lady Bulldogs will play S&S in the bi-district round of the postseason.
Van Alstyne, going deeper into its JV ranks to field a healthy team, took advantage of two Howe errors in the first inning to get off to a 2-0 start.
“We got off to a bad start, might have been senior night nerves, but we calmed down and took care of business,” Howe head coach Jeff Martin said.
Freshman Micah Welch beat out an infield hit to lead off the frame.
Senior Carly Ochoa hit a hard shot back to the circle, but a throwing error allowed Ochoa to reach.
Welch scored on another Lady Bulldog miscue on the same play, and that error allowed Ochoa to reach third. She scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Peyton Welch, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Howe cut that in half in the bottom of the inning as junior Erin Blackburn beat out an infield hit, swiped a couple of bases, then scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Peyton Streetman.
Blackburn had a 3-for-3 night at the plate with a walk, an RBI, and she scored four times.
Senior Dani Ross singled to open the Howe second inning, but two strikeouts by junior Madi Williams almost stopped the rally.
Back-to-back singles by Blackburn and Streetman got the scoreboard numbers turning.
After senior Madisyn Hargrove reached on an error, the first of five by the Lady Panthers, singles by Torrey Stubblefield and Kayla Anderson bumped the Howe lead to 4-2.
Hargrove gave up just two hits over the five innings, striking out seven.
After a second inning single by Marysol Hernandez, Hargrove retired nine in a row, the run ending on a fifth inning walk to sophomore Alyssa Jennings.
Howe added five more runs in the third, with the key hits coming on triples by senior Kamryn Fulenchek and Blackburn.
Leading 10-2 going into the bottom of the fifth,Howe needed just two runs to go home early and they got them.
After Van Alstyne freshman Amryss Brogdon had come on in relief in the fourth, and shut the Lady Bulldogs down in order, things went south in the fifth.
Blackburn walked to open the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and to third on a fly ball out by Hargrove.
Streetman had walked after Blackburn’s free pass, and she was on second.
Senior Madee Mullins come on to pinch hit and hit a shot back to Brogdon in the circle, but all runners held position and the bases were loaded.
Anderson delivered the walk-off hit, a single to right that scored Blackburn and Streetman for the run rule margin.
“She left the pitch a little outside so I took it to right and it got through,” Anderson said.
Like most of the seniors we talked to, Anderson was sad about playing that final home game, but anxious to get into the postseason.