BELTON — One more win, and the title is theirs.
The Belton Lady Tigers dominated Ellison 19-2 in four innings Friday night to move within a win of clinching at least a share of the District 12-6A championship.
Belton coach Matt Blackburn used the latest victory as a way to let his seniors have one last moment to shine at home, substituting for them one-by-one in the late innings with the contest in hand.
“Tonight was about the seniors and honoring them,” he said. “I think we did that the right way.”
The seniors didn’t get a lot of hits because Ellison’s pitchers had trouble finding the strike zone. The Lady Tigers (25-5, 14-0) totaled just six hits but took advantage of 11 walks and six hit batters.
“I’d like to say we weren’t disciplined at the plate, but it’s hard to when you’ve got slow pitching and a lot of balls being thrown,” Blackburn said.
The Lady Tigers scored their first four runs without a base hit, taking advantage of four walks and two hit batters before Jayden Tabler drove in two with a single to left to make it 6-2. Two more walks and an error let in another run.
Ellison (1-14 in district) had gotten on the board in the top of the first, scoring its two runs also without a base hit using a dropped third strike, a fielder’s choice and an error to take the early lead.
Ellison’s pitching got better in the third inning, but so did the Lady Tigers’ bats as they added six runs. Blackburn substituted for his seniors in the top of the fourth, allowing them to be recognized by the fans, and allowing the fans to get a glimpse of the future.
The future looked bright as the underclassmen added six runs in the fourth, with junior Payton Cook ending the contest with a home run to invoke the mercy rule.
Belton will be at Waco on Tuesday and hosts Waco Midway in the district finale Thursday.
“It’s important to them,” Blackburn said of trying to win the title. “For the seniors, that would be their fourth district championship in four years. This team is special.”
FRIDAY'S 12-6A SCORES
- Belton 19, Ellison 2, 4 innings
- Copperas Cove 11, Harker Heights 9
- Temple 10, Waco 4
- Waco Midway 7, Shoemaker 0