Hallsville Takes Care Of North Forney In Opening Regional Semifinal Game
LINDALE -- Cassidy Ferrill stood in the circle at Lindale ISD Softball Complex and tossed the ball from throwing hand to glove and back. Harder and harder as the stress mounted.
A throwing error with two outs in the third inning cost her the shutout. Then a wild pitch advanced a second runner into scoring position. Then a seventh consecutive taken pitch was called a ball.
And then, with one swing of the bat, North Forney rallied from giving up three errors and two hits in the top of the first to tie Wednesday's opening game of the Class 5A Region II semifinal round at 3-3.
Hallsville managed to find a way out though. It knuckled down to take Game 1 of the series, 9-4, despite not capitalizing on even more gimmees.
"We only need one more," head coach Pat Eitel said. "I feel confident they can't beat us twice. If they do, they deserve it. They would deserve to be there."
Hallsville (33-1) put up six runs on 11 hits after the third inning hiccup.
Ferrill and the surrounding defense did not allow another run until the final frame of the game. The unit held North Forney runners at third base twice during the span.
The East Texas team is one win away from returning to the regional championship round and two-to-three victories from the state tournament.
"The kids came through, got some big hits and they made some crucial mistakes," Eitel said. "But, you know, we've done that for the past two years. The kids don't give up."
North Forney (25-4) forced its way back into contention in the bottom third with back-to-back, two-out hits from Blake Bennett and Alexa Enriquez. Hallsville's second and final error of the game allowed Bennett home before Alexis Watson recorded a two-run hit.
Ladycats second baseman Madison McElroy stopped the skid with a pop fly catch on a 1-0 count. Hallsville retook control of the game several minutes afterward.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Ferrill grounded up the middle for a hit. Emma Hawthorne drew a walk and McElroy batted in Ferrill with a hit to deep left field.
It didn't end there. The Ladycats batted through the lineup in the frame, adding four more earned runs against North Forney's final line.
Hannah Mizell's third hit of the night knocked in Hawthorne and McElroy for her third and fourth RBIs. Hailee Hollan then blooped over first base to plate Mizzell.
Hollan made it an 8-3 game on Kelsey Ingram's base hit before North Forney caught Bailey Gabriel in a rundown between second and third base.
Hallsville gained a six-run advantage in the top of the seventh. Leadoff hitter Julie Ann Rawls tripled and Elizabeth Davis scored her with a liner between the North Forney third baseman and shortstop.
North Forney gave up two errors on its first three defensive plays of the night. It finished the game with six misplays, but only its first two cost the team runs.
Hawthorne broke scoring with a hit over first base, scoring Rawls, and Mizell upped the lead to 3-0 with a two-RBI hit later in the first inning.
Ferrill took the complete game win on 127 pitches. She struck out 10 batters while allowing nine hits and a walk.
The best-of-three series resumes at 7 p.m. Friday on the Mineola High School campus. A third game, if necessary, will be played 2 p.m. Saturday in Mineola.
Hollan is expected to pitch Game 2 for Hallsville.
"The top of their lineup is tough," Eitel said. "It is tough. We've got to play some great defense and make some quality pitches."
Class 5A Region II Regional Semifinal Softball Playoffs
At Lindale ISD Softball Complex
Game 1 -- Hallsville 9, North Forney 4
Hallsville 300 500 1 -- 9 14 2
North Forney 003 000 1 -- 4 9 6
Pitchers and catchers
- Hallsville: Cassidy Ferrill and Emma Hawthorne
- North Forney: Andrea Decareau and Marilyn Rizzato
- WP -- Ferrill
- LP -- Decareau
- North Forney: Rizzato
- North Forney: Brooke Taylor, Alexis Watson
- Hallsville: Julie Ann Rawls