Aledo swatted 16 hits, including a three-hit effort each from Lindsey McElroy and Caden Cunningham, to explode for 10 runs as the Ladycats cruised past Eaton, 10-1, Saturday afternoon at Chisholm Trail High School to clinch a Class 5A regional quarterfinals softball series two games to one.
The Ladycats will advance to the regional semifinals and face El Paso Chapin, the District 1-5A champion. The series format, game times, days and location have yet to be determined. The Community News will post the information when it becomes available.
Eaton had taken the opening game on Thursday, 7-6 in 10 innings, but the Ladycats bounced back in Friday’s game two with a 3-1 win to set up today’s series-clinching contest.
Eaton was the District 6-5A champion, while Aledo was 6-5A’s fourth seed. The two teams split a pair of games in district play.
“This (series) win was very satisfying,” Ladycats second-year head coach Heather Oakes said. “I can’t speak highly enough about Eaton. They go hard, are young and they are competitors. The future is certainly bright for Eaton. But it was very nice to come back and win this series.
“I got chills. The girls put in the work every single day, and I am very blessed to have them.”
Hannah Andrews was the winning pitcher. She allowed a run on six scattered hits with four walks in seven innings.
“I love my Hannah,” Oakes said. “I call her my workhorse because she gets the job done day in and day out in the circle and in the (batter’s) box. Hannah is a great ball player. I am very proud of her.”
The Ladycats jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning, added three runs in the second and never looked back.
“It was huge to get five runs so early,” Oakes said. “Not only did it bury them, but it lifted our spirits and gave us some early breathing room.”
Eaton scratched for a run in the top of the fourth inning to cut the Ladycats’ lead to 5-1. But Aledo matched the run and more in the bottom of the fourth.
McElroy smashed a double to drive in Gracie King, and McElroy scored two batters later on a base hit by Megan Reynolds. Heidi Fischer, running for Andrews who reached after being hit by a pitch, crossed home plate after a single from Cunningham as the Ladycats stretched their lead to 8-1.
Aledo closed the scoring with a pair of runs in the fifth for a 10-1 advantage. King singled, and she scored a batter later when McElroy tripled off the wall. McElroy scored after a crafty bunt single from Mykayla Stroud.
Andrews retired six of the next eight Eaton batters to seal the victory as the Ladycats move on to the fourth round of the Class 5A playoffs.
This will be the fourth time in the last five years the Ladycats have reached the regional semifinals.
“It feels amazing to know and see that we are getting better and better each week,” Stroud said. “It makes my heart happy to play on such a great team in my senior year. After we lost the first game we just told ourselves to come back harder and that the first game didn’t matter. We will keep this going as long as we possibly can.”