By Matthew Girard
Killeen Daily Herald
Thanks to Austin McCallum bringing just nine players to Killeen, the Shoemaker softball team picked up two wins instead of one on Saturday with a 20-1 and 16-7 sweep of the Lady Knights.
With no junior varsity, the two coaches decided to turn the one-game nondistrict game into a double header with the Lady Grey Wolves' varsity squad playing the entire first game and most of the reserves playing in the second.
In the first game, Shoemaker catcher Ashley Shannon (4-for-5) led off the game in the bottom of the first with her first home run of the season and the Lady Grey Wolves (9-11, 2-4 District 13-5A) never looked back. After Shannon's solo shot, Shoemaker went on to score two more runs and scored at least three runs (eight in the second) in the next three innings to build an 18-1 lead.
Shortstop Heidi Johnson got in on the long ball act as well with a solo homer to lead off the third inning.
"We just hit the ball well from the top to the bottom and played a pretty good game defensively, too," coach Kelly Berg said. "We didn't have the high number of strikeouts we normally have and we played really solid defense when they hit the ball."
Starting pitcher Sami Berg struck out nine Lady Knights, allowing just three hits and one run. Sami Berg's nine strikeouts gave her 186 for the season, good enough for sixth in Central Texas.
Berg said Sami, whose ERA was a miniscule .85 heading into Saturday's game, didn't have her best outing.
"(Sami) looked OK," Berg said. "I think the laid-back atmosphere was different, having a big lead made a difference in the dugout, but it just wasn't a game for a pitcher to keep her rhythm."
In the second game, junior varsity pitcher Karlye Stapleton struck out four and had four RBIs to lead Shoemaker to its second win of the day.
The Lady Knights put up a little more of a fight by loading the bases twice in the first three innings, but Stapleton was able to get out of both jams without allowing a single run to preserve a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Grey Wolves broke the game open with four runs as Sami Berg, Shannon and Neticia Susuico each knocked in runs to increase the lead to 6-0.
McCallum answered with two runs in the top of the fifth, but the Lady Grey Wolves scored four more runs in the bottom of the inning, spurred by Stapleton's two-RBI triple and Sami Berg's third RBI of the game.
"The pitching was a little slower than we've seen in district, so it gave them a chance to build their confidence up going into the second half of district," junior varsity coach Marilyn Mapes said.
The Lady Knights cut the lead to 10-7 in the top of the sixth after two errors, a bases-loaded walk and a two-RBI single by Elise Taunton.
Despite McCallum's sudden burst of offense, Shoemaker scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the Lady Knights away for good. Stapleton and Ashley McCune hit in two runs apiece in the inning.
"She (Stapleton) did an awesome job hitting today," Mapes said. "She was hitting the ball really strong."
Although the second game was more for the reserves, Mapes said Saturday's game gave more players varsity experience.
"This gave them another look at that (varsity), so they can get ready for next year," Mapes said.
Shoemaker will resume its hunt for its first-ever postseason berth and district play on Tuesday against cross-town rival Harker Heights at Shoemaker.
Contact Matthew Girard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569.