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Ladycats stay atop region

Statebound again


All season, the Aledo Ladycats have had it set on their minds to defend their Class 5A Region I championship and get back to Austin. They completed that final step on Friday, May 27 by completing a sweep over Lubbock Monterey, winning Game 1 by a score of 8-2 and finishing it in Game 2 with a 10-3 tally.

Aledo (33-2) advances to the University Interscholastic League Class 5A state tournament for the second consecutive year where they will face Georgetown (33-3) in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Red & Charline McCombs Field on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.

Georgetown is a familiar foe to the Ladycats, as both teams faced off in the semifinals in 2021 at Leander Glenn High School because there was a weather issue at the University of Texas that day. Aledo won 8-5 to advance to the final game before falling to Barbers Hill 4-1 in the state championship game.

To get back to the coveted tournament, the Ladycats first had to finish off the Region I side of the playoff bracket against Lubbock Monterey (35-6-1) at Abilene Christian University. Both defenses had trouble getting a foothold early on as the home plate umpire had a very tight strike zone, allowing multiple baserunners on both sides.

Monterey struck first with a single to Reagan Davis in left field, but Davis’s throw to home plate prevented a second run and ended the half inning.

Aledo loaded the bases quickly in the bottom of the first and two walks gave them a 2-1 lead after one inning.

In the second inning, a triple from Macy Graf set up Marissa Powell to knock in another run, with Powell later scoring on a single by Presley Hull to make it a 4-1 game.

Graf made some noise again in the third by hitting a sacrifice fly to score Davis from third. Monterey countered with another run in the top of the fourth but that would be the last for them in the game.

Madysen Boutwell added some insurance in the sixth inning by scoring on a wild play during an at-bat for Claire Byars. Byars then knocked in Ana Flores making it a 7-2 tally. Graf collected one more RBI by singling in Byars towards the end of the inning.

Sophomore pitcher Brenlee Gonzales retired Monterey from there, giving Aledo a much needed win to start the series.

“I feel like we do a really good job at facing adversity,” head coach Heather Myers said after the first game. “A lot of times it’s not just the other team you have to adjust to, it’s the umpires and the guy behind the plate had a very tight zone. But he called it the same for both teams and we made the adjustments and capitalized when we had to.”

After staying in Abilene overnight, the Ladycats took the field the next morning with a sense of determination. Nathalie Touchet got the nod as starting pitcher and immediately took control, retiring the first nine Monterey batters.

The scoring started early for Aledo as Graf drew a walk to lead off the game, setting up Powell’s one-pitch plate appearance that resulted in a double to dead center field to drive her in. Later in the inning, Flores started her big day with a triple off the wall, bringing in Powell and Texas Ray. Byars drove in Flores on the next play, giving the Ladycats an early 4-0 advantage.

Before Monterey could even muster a response, Aledo continued to roll with three consecutive home runs in the fourth inning from Ray, Boutwell and Hull to make it 7-0.

Monterey refused to go quietly and countered with a three run inning of their own, making it 7-3 after four innings.

Aledo was not done though. On one of the strangest plays of the year, Byars grounded back to the pitcher for what should have been the third out of the sixth inning. However, the Monterey pitcher got spooked by Ray’s lead off third base, and threw to home plate. The catcher tried to throw Byars out at first, but was too late. In the confusion, Ray scored from third to dash any hope Monterey had of a comeback.

Powell and Boutwell both added RBI doubles in the seventh inning to solidify the win, and Touchet polished it off with a shutdown inning, giving Aledo the regional title yet again.

“I just trusted my defense one hundred and ten percent,” Touchet said after a career game. “That’s the thing about pitching on this team, I can trust every single pitch I throw because I know if it’s hit, it’s going to be caught or it’s going to be fielded with a good throw. We have an amazing team. I can’t be more grateful for what we have.”

The overnight trip was the first of the year for the Ladycats and it came at a crucial time as they prepare to do the same in Austin. It was an opportunity that Myers was very grateful for.

“It showed the girls that they can do something like that,” she commented. “We didn’t have any overnight stays and I really think it was beneficial for them to get up early. They were awake, they were on fire, so I think it was huge for their mentality going into the state tournament.”


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