CHINA SPRING — Salado senior southpaw Morgan Hill struck out 14 batters, yielded just two hits and no earned runs in a complete-game 5-1 win over Teague on Friday in China Spring — leading the Lady Eagles to their first area championship in school history.
Earlier in the week, Teague and Salado agreed to play a one-game winner-take-all contest for the area crown.
“I’m extremely proud that we’ve taken the Salado softball program further than it’s ever gone with this win tonight against Teague,” Hill said.
“I’m also very proud of the way our whole team played tonight.”
And her whole team was pretty proud of Hill.
“Morgan was so dominant tonight,” said Lady Eagles freshman catcher Jenna Calder. “Their batters looked totally confused against her all game. Everything was working for Morgan: her screwball, fastball, rise, curve — everything.”
“Morgan did a phenomenal job pitching tonight,” said Salado junior right fielder Kristen Oakes. “She pitched her heart out. I’m so proud of her.”
“Morgan was amazing tonight,” said Salado senior slugger and first baseman Shyenne Hicks. “We told Morgan before the game tonight that we’d play good defense behind her and she should be confident in herself, too. Morgan came through.”
Hill struck out 10 of the first 18 Lady Lions she faced. She didn’t yield a hit until the top of the fourth — a harmless single at that. She blanked Teague through five innings. In the sixth, Teague took advantage of two Salado fielding errors and managed to cross the plate. In the seventh, the Lady Lions had their second single of the contest then Hill slammed the door shut: ground out, strikeout, ground out.
“I feel very fulfilled about tonight because this was definitely up to the standards I set for myself,” Hill said. “This is how I like to pitch. My changeup seemed to be effective and my curveball — my go-to pitch — was working well, too.”
Teague won the 22-2A District title with an 11-1 record.
“This was a very good team we were playing tonight,” said Salado head coach Kory Craddick. “And for Morgan to get 14 strikeouts? Wow! She had so much energy and 14 strikeouts says it all.”
Salado was led on offense by Hicks, who had a double, single and RBI, Grace Tauferner who had a double and triple, Reagan Best (RBI single), Malory Schattle (double) and Oakes, who had a game-high two RBIs.
The Lady Eagles led 1-0 after two innings, 3-0 after three frames and took a 4-0 lead into the sixth.
“We didn’t hit as good as we’d have like tonight,” Hicks said.
“But we still got enough runs on the board. We knew it was do-or-die, we played with energy and we advanced on.”
Salado will now compete in the regional quarterfinals, one of just 16 teams left in 2A.
“I’m so proud to be a part of a team that has made Salado school history,”
Hill said. “We’re all very grateful to our coaches for helping us make this season historic for Salado.”
“This is an exciting time for our softball program to have gone further than it ever has,” Craddick said. “We didn’t hit the ball as well as we did last week.
“But the girls are playing real well together and so we’ll just keep going out on the field, have fun — and see just how far we can go.”