Aledo pitcher Hannah Andrews has the Azle Lady Hornets’ number.
The junior threw eight scoreless innings and allowed just five hits to lead the Ladycats to a 1-0 victory over Azle Saturday afternoon at Chisholm Trail High School to sweep the best-of-3 area playoff series over the Lady Hornets and send the AHS ladies to the regional quarterfinals.
The Ladycats will face Birdville in the regional quarterfinals.
Andrews continued to dominate the Lady Hornets. She allowed three hits Friday night in a 5-1 series-opening win, and Saturday afternoon limited Azle’s top two hitters, Bailee Carter and Sam Bradford, to a combined 0-for-7 at the plate although Carter got on base twice courtesy of a walk and being hit by a pitch. All totaled, Andrews allowed just one run in 15 innings against the highly-regarded Lady Hornets’ hitters.
“I would put Hannah up against any pitcher in the state,” Ladycats head coach Heather Oakes said. “She had all of her pitches working for her, and she was hitting her spots, using her spins and she is just a phenomenal pitcher. For a junior she is very composed, and she gets it done.”
While Andrews was doing her part to seal the series, two Aledo senior leaders also made sure the series did not go to a third game. Senior center fielder Kadyn Kirkpatrick came up with a game-saving catch in the seventh inning, and the series-clinching run began with a double off the red-hot bat of catcher Landri Mays.
Azle had a golden opportunity to score and win the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with runners on second and third and two outs. Azle second baseman Rayne Cottle sent a towering pitch deep into center field, but a hustling Kirkpatrick, backpedaling toward the center-field fence, leaped to make the game-saving catch for the out that ended the inning and sent the contest to extra innings.
“I got a late read on the ball,” Kirkpatrick said. “At first I didn’t think it was hit well. But then I realized it was and I thought to myself ‘if I don’t make this catch we will lose the game’ so I jumped up and caught it.”
Kirkpatrick’s catch left the game scoreless after regulation as the contest headed to the eighth inning. Mays – the hero in Game 1 with two doubles and two RBI – led off the eighth and pounded a Bradley pitch to the right-centerfield fence to lead off the extra frame. Mays was replaced on second base by courtesy runner Krissy Johnson.
Andrews was at the plate next, and she made sure she got it done on the offensive side as well. Andrews sliced a single to plate the speedy Johnson as Aledo took a 1-0 lead.
Bradley, one of the better pitchers in the area, showed why she is such by retiring the next three batters in order, finishing off the frame with two strikeouts to give her team a chance to tie or win the game in the bottom half of the inning.
Andrews struck out the first batter in the Azle half of the eighth before Brooklin Leal reached base on a infield single. Unruffled, Andrews struck out the next batter as the Ladycats were one out away from clinching the series.
Fittingly, senior captain Kirkpatrick caught a fly ball off the bat of Carter for the out that sends the Ladycats to the regional quarterfinals. It was also the third consecutive season Aledo has eliminated Azle from the playoffs.
“Winning this series gives these girls a ton of confidence,” Oakes said. “It is fun watching them grow up. I have been telling them all year that they are better then what they actually think of themselves – and I have been telling them they can go as far as they want (in the playoffs) – and I think they are starting to see it now.”