Howe 7, Pottsboro 1

One of Howe softball coach Jeff Martin’s most-oft repeated exhortations — at least according to one of his six seniors — is, “Let’s jump on them early.”

The Lady Bulldogs did just that on May 11 in game one of a Class 3A-Region II quarterfinal series against Pottsboro at Bonham High School.

A first inning leadoff double by junior shortstop Erin Blackburn got the Lady Bulldogs’ offense rolling, and two batters later junior pitcher Torrey Stubblefield lashed a double into the left center field gap, plating three runs and giving Howe all the offense it would need in a 7-1 win.

“Erin set the tone for us early with that double and Torrey was throwing the ball hard tonight,” Martin said

After an infield hit by Pottsboro sophomore Riley Westervelt in the second inning, Stubblefield retired 11 Lady Cardinal batters in a row, with help from a rock-solid defense.

Blackburn snared a hot shot just off her shoe top for a second inning out. Senior Dani Ross made a nice running catch on a sinking liner in right field in the fourth, and senior Kamryn Fulenchek ran down a fly just inside the left field line in the fifth.

Pottsboro junior pitcher Pyper James was taking care of business after that rocky start, getting six consecutive outs to keep the Howe lead at three.

That streak ended in the Lady Bulldog half of the fourth.

Junior Payton Griffin fouled off a pair of 3-2 pitches before hitting a shot to left field to open the frame.

Back-to-back singles by Ross and Fulenchek loaded the bases, and an infield hit by senior catcher Emily Sanders drove in Griffin.

With one out, junior Peyton Streetman reached on a fielder’s choice that retired Ross at the plate.

A double by senior Madisyn Hargrove drove in Fulenchek and Sanders, and Streetman scored on a Pottsboro error to make it a 7-0 game.

The Lady Cardinals put together three consecutive hits to open the top of the sixth as Stubbledfield ran into a rough spot.

“It’s always pretty intense when we play them because we know them so well, I may have gotten a little tired there in the sixth inning,” Stubblefield said. “I couldn’t place by change up where I needed it.”

The junior Texas A&M commit gave up four hits, taking a one-hitter into the Pottsboro sixth, and fanned eight in her ninth win of the season.

A leadoff double by Lauren Hicks was the only solid hit of the Pottsboro rally, but an infield hit and a Texas league single to short left scored Hicks with the only Lady Cardinal run of the game.

Howe retired the side when Griffin caught a hard shot at third base and doubled off the Lady Cardinal runner at second to retire the side.

Sanders hit a one-bounce double over the wall in left center, but Howe could not advance her.

After Stubblefield had fanned the first two hitters in the Pottsboro seventh, Anna Roebuck reached on a walk.

A two-base throwing error sent Roebuck to third, but a fly ball to short center wrapped up the Howe win.

The Lady Bulldogs had nine hits in the contest with Sanders picking up a pair of those.