Howe 13, Sunnyvale 2 (5)
The Howe Lady Bulldogs made short work of their best-of-three, area round playoff series with Sunnyvale, sweeping the Lady Raiders in a pair of run-rule victories.
It took just one big inning to put game two away on May 5 at Princeton.
The Lady Raiders had taken a 2-1 lead in game two, but base running mistakes cost them dearly as they attempted to tie the series.
Howe jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first as junior Erin Blackburn walked and stole second.
A ground out to the right side by junior Peyton Streetman moved Blackburn to third, and she scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Madisyn Hargrove.
Sunnyvale scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back doubles to spark that rally. The Lady Raiders could have had more, but senior catcher Dani Ross picked off base runners at third base in both the third and fourth innings.
The Lady Bulldogs sent 17 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, scoring a dozen runs to salt away the game.
Hargrove, junior Torrey Stubblefield and senior Kamryn Fulenchek each had two hits in the inning.
Howe had eight hits in the frame, all singles, and it must have felt like some slow-motion torture scene for the visitors from Sunnyvale.
In the series Fulenchek and Stubblefield both went 5-for-7 at the plate, Hargrove was 4-for-5.
The Lady Bulldogs will face Pottsboro in the regional quarterfinals.
Howe 16, Sunnyvale 0 (5)
The Howe Lady Bulldogs got an impressive performance from junior pitcher Torrey Stubblefield and an equally noteworthy effort from the offensive lineup with a 16-0, run-rule win over Sunnyvale in game one of the Class 3-A, Region II area round series at Princeton High School on May 4.
Stubblefield gave up just one hit, an infield roller in the Lady Raiders’ final inning at the plate, struck out seven and notched her eighth win of the 2017 season.
Sunnyvale, the District 11-3A champions, and a bi-district winner over Edgewood, had the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning, but Stubblefield fanned two to end that threat.
“My curve ball was a big part of my game plan tonight and the way the game was called I just had to keep jamming them.” Stubblefield said.
Neither side was particularly happy with some of the calls at the plate, but that’s a part of the game you have to deal with.
“You just have to move on to the next play, the next pitch, nothing you can say will change the call.” Howe head coach Jeff Martin said.
Sunnyvale brought an imressive 21-8 record into the best-of-three series, but Howe brought a lineup packed with postseason experience and they were attacking from the start in the series opener.
The Lady Bulldogs (15-4) had 19 hits in the game as every Howe batter collected at least one.
Senior left fielder Kamryn Fulenchek had three hits in four trips to the plate, two coming in a nine-run explosion in the top of the fifth inning. Her leadoff single started that carnage and she had another single later that drove in the final run of the frame.
With one out in the top of the first, junior Peyton Streetman beat out an infield hit and senior Madisyn Hargrove lined a triple to the gap in right center to score Streetman with the games’ first run.
Hargrove had two hits and a walk in three trips to the plate, including a home run shot in the fifth inning. She scored in the first on an infield hit by Stubblefield, making it a 2-0 game.
The Lady Bulldogs scored in every inning, taking advantage of every opportunity.
Junior Erin Blackburn walked, and stole second base as she normally does, before a double by Streetman scored Blackburn, bumping the lead to three.
There was a pretty stiff breeze blowing from left field across to right and Sunnyvale paid the price for playing its outfield in.
Streetman’s hit in the second and a triple by Fulenchek in the third, were both shots over that drawn in defense.
Fulenchek’s blast scored senior Dani Ross who had reached on a two-out walk.
Senior Emily Sanders made it back-to-back with triples, following Fulencheks hit with another three-bagger that drove in the fifth Howe run of the game.
Sanders scored on a single by Blackburn to make it a 6-0 game after three.
Stubblefield walked two runners in the Sunnyvale half of the third, the first coming on a very questionable call with a 3-2 count.
With runners at first and second, a ground ball to Blackburn a short, toss to Hargrove at second, then on the Kayla Anderson at first for a textbook, 6-4-3 double-play to end the inning.
The Lady Bulldogs picked up another run in the fourth as Stubblefield doubled into the 8-9 gap in right center and was subbed out for courtesy runner Madee Mullins
Mullins moved to third on a ground out to the right side, then scored on a Texas league hit to left by junior Payton Griffin.
Stubbblefield cruised throught the Sunnyvale fourth, getting three outs on weak pop-ups to the infield.
“My defense was really outstanding tonight and that gave me a lot of confidence in my pitch selection,” Stubblefield said.
The Lady Bulldogs broke the game open in the top of the fifth, sending 13 batters to the plate, while scoring nine runs.
Hargrove had a three-RBI home run, Anderson doulbed into the left field corner to drive in a run, and Griffin had a triple that went to the right field corner, and chased the Lady Raiders starting pitcher.
Back-to-back singles by Ross and Fulenchek greeted the new pitcher and a Sanders’ double completed the nine-run rally.
Needing just three outs to lock up the run-rule win, the Lady Bulldogs were ready to get this one done.
Sunnyvale junior Logan Jacobs sent a slow roller back up the middle to open the inning and beat out an infield hit to spoil Stubblefield’s no-hit bid.
“We had the defense set right, Madisyn (Hargrove) went over to cover at first but it was hit in just the right place and she beat it out,” Martin said.
Stubblefield came back to strike out the next batter and a ground out to the right side got the second out.
Sunnyvale worked Stubblefield for a pair of walks before a pop-up was squeezed by Hargrove at second to end the contest.
The Howe varsity softball team has a neutral playoff game vs. Pottsboro on Saturday, May 13.