By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE - West is the state's fourth-ranked softball team in Class 3A.
And Gatesville had three big chances Tuesday to tie the Lady Trojans and possibly send their District 7-3A game into extra innings.
But the Hornets couldn't push across the tying run, instead stranding seven runners in the final three innings as West held off Gatesville for a 1-0 road win.
West improved to a district-leading 4-0 and dropped the Hornets (19-7) to a second-place tie with China Spring at 3-1. Those two square off in China Spring on Thursday night.
The Lady Trojans (21-1) picked up their run in the fourth inning after stranding runners in two of the opening three innings. West loaded the bases before Kristen Kolacek singled back up the middle. Breanna Pavlas scored from third base, but Gatesville center fielder Cassie Morphet threw out Ashley Anz at the plate.
"I have to take chances - that's part of coaching," West coach Guyla Smith said. "You have to take chances and we're going to run and make you throw us out."
Said Edwards: "She couldn't have thrown that any better and (catcher) Amber (Colson) couldn't have put the tag down on her any better."
Anz, West's starter, faced the minimum through four innings, which included a fourth-inning double play to erase the Hornets' first hit.
In the fifth, Shelby Watson reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second base on a sacrifice before Skye Truss gave the Hornets two on with two outs. Anz escaped the jam, getting Colson to ground out.
Anz quickly found herself in trouble again in the sixth, as she hit Megan Chambers after Lauren Nichols led off with an infield single. The next three Gatesville batters - Jaycee Summers, Paige Chambers and Emily Leib - put balls in play, but none left the infield. Nichols and Chambers moved to third and second base on a fielder's choice, but a flyout to Lady Trojan shortstop Erin Knox and lineout to third baseman Brooke Morrison ended the inning.
"All I've asked the girls this year, especially this young of a team against varsity pitching, is put the ball in play," said Edwards, who pointed out that last season the Hornets struck out much more against Anz. "And we had two strikeouts tonight with four or five freshmen in the lineup."
Watson started the seventh-inning rally, reaching on an infield error, but was forced out on a Morphet fielder's choice. A second error and a Colson infield single loaded the bases with one out. West got out of it as Anz struck out Nichols and got Megan Chambers to fly out to end the game.
"We tried to let them get back in it," Smith said. "We had a few mistakes - I kind of felt like we went flat there at the end, but everything, I thought, was pretty good."