HARKER HEIGHTS — Ashleigh Palma threw a shutout against Killeen, leading the Lady Knights to a 10-0 victory in six innings Friday night.
“Team — that is our huge theme of the year,” Heights head coach Sarah Cruddas, “being one from the dugout to the field to the plate. I think we finally found it and we clicked.
“This is a team and it radiates out of the dugout.”
“We were really hoping to win this game so we could get fourth and go to playoffs,” Palma added. “We’re hoping we can keep it up.
“Just keep moving forward.”
Errors in the bottom of the first quickly added up for Killeen.
A sacrifice fly to center off the bat of Madelyn Garrison turned into a two-base error. Ja’lynn Swiney popped one up toward second base, but another drop allowed Heights to take a 1-0 lead.
Heights led 2-0 after the first inning.
Killeen had runners on the corners in the top of the second but failed to bring in any runs.
The Lady Roos fared much better defensively in the bottom of the second as starting pitcher Destiny Allen struck out three batters.
Garrison started the bottom of the third for the Lady Knights with a double that fell just short of the wall in deep center.
Swiney was hit by pitch, and a double steal put both runners in scoring position. Lindsey Ratcliffe came up to the plate and hit a sacrifice to bring in Garrison and extend Heights lead to 3-0.
The Lady Knights added three more runs before the Lady Roos could end the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Allison Fox shot one into left field for a double. Wheeler swung at a low ball and was tagged out at first.
Fox contemplated running home but ran back to third and slid in as Swiney went for the tag. The home umpire ruled Fox safe.
Cruddas was clearly upset as she went to challenge the call. After both umpires discussed the play, the call on the field stood.
“I’m always going to fight for my girls, and when they make a good play, I want that acknowledged,” Cruddas said. “Nothing against the umpires; we’re all human. We all make errors.
“It is what it is. We got the out. The ball never lies.”
Harker Heights led 8-0 after adding two more runs in the bottom of the fourth,
The Lady Knights added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth and the game ended on the 10-run mercy rule.
As Cruddas and her team head into the second half of district play, a four- game winning streak is the kind of motivation her team will need if it wants a chance at a playoff run.
“The start of the next round is very tough for us,” Cruddas said.
Heights will play Belton, Waco Midway and San Angelo, the three teams they lost to earlier in the season.
“The girls know that we have to carry this energy over and that we can compete with them.
“And with this group of girls, we can.”
“As a team, I feel like we kept it together. We never got down on each other,” Palma said of Friday’s performance.
FRIDAY'S 8-6A SOFTBALL
- Belton 14, Copperas Cove 0, 5 inn.
- Harker Heights 10, Killeen 0, 6 inn.
- San Angelo Central 12, Shoemaker 5
- Waco Midway 15, Ellison 1, 5 inn.