The Port Arthur News
For Nederland coach Monte Barrow, the journey is always more important than the end result.
That journey came to an end on Saturday with a 7-0 loss to Montgomery in Game 2 of a best-of-three series in the 4A area-round playoffs.
“At the end of the first round of district we were sitting in fifth place and this team decided we weren’t going to go out like that,” Barrow said. “The team rallied around our seniors and we were able to run the table in the second half.
“I’m so proud of all this team accomplished this year. It’s like I told them, ‘It’s not about the end result. It’s about the journey we took to get here.’ It took a special group of kids to get where we were today.”
The District 20-4A co-champion Lady Bulldogs (20-8) were doomed by a strong defensive effort as well as timely hitting from hot-hitting Montgomery.
Montgomery advances to the regional quarterfinals with the win and will play Huntsville though a time and place have yet to be set.
The Lady Bulldogs left runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings and tallied seven runners left on base total.
“We got runners out there and we had traffic on the bases,” Barrow said. “Before the game we talked about being aggressive in the count. We did that and got some runners on. We just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”
Nederland had runners on the corners in the fifth inning with one out. Lady Bulldogs shortstop Savana Guidry hit a soft line drive that looked like it would fall into short left field before her counterpart Devon Tunning, a University of Texas pledge, snagged it with full extension saving a run.
“Their shortstop is a great player,” Barrow said. “She can really play.”
Katelyn Sanders got the win for District 17-4A co-champion Montgomery (27-5), going six innings while striking out five batters and allowing five hits.
Nederland threatened again in the sixth inning when Lady Bulldogs third baseman Kelsey Beard reached first on a sharp single to right field.
Sanders would defuse the situation quickly, though, getting Nicole Matise to ground into a 4-6-3 double play turned by Tunning and Lady Bear second baseman Megan Armistead.
Beard finished 2 for 3 on the day with two singles. Jensen Richard and Emily Nolan also added singles.
Lady Bulldogs junior Makayla Kelly took the loss in the circle while going 5 1/3 innings, striking out one batter.
“I thought Makayla did a great job handling the top of their lineup,” Barrow said. “It was the middle to the back of the lineup that we really had trouble with.”
Montgomery struck for three runs in the bottom of the fourth with RBI singles from Bailey Watson and Jeslyn Thompson to stretch its lead to 4-0.
The Lady Bears would add some distance with solo homers from Tunning and Cheyenne Trader in the fifth and sixth innings respectively before Cali Lanphear added an RBI triple to make it 7-0.
“It was a great season for us,” Barrow said. “I couldn’t be more proud of what this team did – that’s why it’s so important to remember the journey. All the things that went along with getting to here is the memories we made what we’ll remember forever.”