With a pair of nice overall outings, the Houston High School softball team won twice last week in road games against fellow Texas County squads, downing Cabool 12-6 on Tuesday and blanking Summersville 16-0 on Friday.
The Lady Tigers scored in 6 of the 7 innings in the contest at Cabool, banging out 16 hits and recording 10 RBIs in the process.
Senior Hannah Dzurick led Houston’s offense, going 4-for-4 with a triple, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Dzurick also started the game in the pitcher’s circle and gave up 5 earned runs and 5 hits in 4 innings of work, while striking out 2 and walking 3.
Sophomore Kelsey Pritchett pitched the last 3 innings, allowing only 2 hits and no earned runs while fanning 6 and not issuing a free pass.
Lady Tigers senior third baseman Mali Brookshire went 3-for-4 at the plate, smacking 2 doubles, driving in a run and scoring 2, while Pritchett went 2-for-4 with a triple, 2 RBIs and a run scored.
Junior Athena Waller went the distance in the pitcher’s circle for Cabool, allowing 11 earned runs on 16 hits while fanning 3 and walking 2.
The contest wasn’t originally on the schedule and doesn’t count in South Central Association conference standings. The two teams agreed to play after Dora backed out of a scheduled game at Houston.
LOTS OF LATE RUNS
The host Lady Wildcats hung with the Lady Tigers for a few innings in Friday’s contest at Summersville.
Houston took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on RBI doubles by Dzurick and senior catcher Mackenzie Holder.
Neither team scored again until the fourth inning when the Lady Tigers added 4 runs with a rally including three walks, a hit batter and a 2-run single by junior center fielder Karlee Curtis.
After adding a run in the fifth inning, Houston broke the game open with 9 runs in the sixth with an outburst featuring 5 hits and 4 walks. Dzurick delivered the big blow in the frame with a 2-out, 2-run double.
Dzurick finished an unblemished week at the plate with an almost identical set of statistics as the Cabool game, going 4-for-4 again with a triple, 2 doubles, a walk, 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Through last week, she led the team in batting with a robust .684 average.
HHS junior Aliyah Walker had a 3-hit outing, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored.
Curtis, Pritchett and junior second baseman Madi Reed all had 2 hits, while sophomore Rhease Manier got the start in right field and went 1-for-3 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs.
Walker was also back in the pitcher’s circle for Houston and tossed a complete game shutout, allowing only 6 hits while striking out 8 and walking only 2. The veteran hurler used a mix of well-placed fastballs (that often moved in various directions), drop-balls and nasty changeups that frequently surprised and confused Summersville batters.
Houston’s defense was spotless behind Walker and didn’t commit an error. Brookshire had a huge outing at third, converting several tough plays and making good on all five of her chances.
“I thought it was our most complete performance so far this year,” said HHS head coach Jim Moore. “We looked pretty good offensively and defensively, and our pitching was solid and we ran the bases pretty good. Overall, I thought we showed signs that we might be headed in the right direction.”
Eight different Lady Tigers had hits in the contest, and all nine in the lineup got on base.
“That’s important,” Moore said. “We don’t want any holes in our lineup; you want to continually put pressure on the other team and not let them feel like they can easily get through a certain part of your order and take a couple of innings to relax.”
Moore said Brookshire enjoys being busy at the “hot corner.”
“Sometimes she says she gets a little bored and doesn’t get enough action over there,” Moore said. “With the pitching we have, sometimes they’re not pulling the ball much, but I thought she made a lot of nice plays with the opportunities she had. That’s good to see; we’re pretty fortunate to have her at third base.”
Moore said that when Walker is having a good day in the pitcher’s circle, she’s very hard to deal with.
“When she’s hitting her spots and keeping hitters off balance, she’s almost unhittable,” he said. “She’s got three good pitches, and when she’s throwing strikes it’s hard for hitters to dig in and be sitting on a pitch.”
While Moore still doesn’t let fundamentals get overlooked, the Lady Tigers’ level of experience allows him to focus more on details and situations.
“It’s nice to be in that situation,” he said. “We’re still going to make some mistakes, but we’re able to work on more advanced things. We’ll still work on fundamentals because that’s how you win ballgames, but being able to talk the game at a deeper level is a lot of fun and helps make us a better overall team.”
The Lady Tigers (5-1) host Mansfield on Tuesday of this week and begin SCA play Thursday (April 7) at Liberty. This season, all eight SCA teams are playing in the spring.
Houston is the two-time defending conference champion in spring ball.
“We’re excited about having a full conference schedule,” Moore said. “We know it’s not going to be a cake walk, and whoever wins the conference is going to earn it. But we like our chances and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Lady Tigers will be in the field this weekend in a tournament at Conway, and then travel to Cabool for a key SCA matchup on Monday before heading to Dixon for a nonconference contest on Tuesday.
HHS OFFENSIVE LEADERS
(through April 2)
(min. 15 at-bats)
Dzurick – .684
Pritchett – .526
Walker – .500
Holder – .391
Brookshire – .353
Holder – 16
Pritchett – 9
Reed – 9
Dzurick – 8
Bryan – 5
Walker – 5
Walker – 11
Dzurick – 10
Brookshire – 9
Pritchett – 8
Cavaness – 7
Curtis – 7