The Port Arthur News
The Nederland Lady Bulldogs rode the strong arm of MaKayla Kelly and some timely hitting to advance past the bidistrict round of the playoffs from Crosby Friday.
Nederland (24-9) swept a doubleheader with the Lady Cougars, beating Crosby 4-1 in Game 1 and 5-2 in Game 2.
In Game 1, the Lady Cougars took advantage of some early game jitters from Nederland scoring an unearned run when Kelly hit Crosby right fielder Jamie Hofmann with the bases loaded forcing home Kaitlin Stebelton from third.
The Lady Bulldogs answered back in the bottom of the third. Right fielder Kelly Bergeron brought home the tying run with a groundout to second, scoring Jensen Richard who had tripled to open the inning.
The score remained tied at 1-1 until Nederland came to bat in the third. Hits by Taylor Davis and Tori Cooper off Crosby starter Taylor Cole, an error, a walk and a sacrifice fly from Kelsey Beard gave Nederland a 3-1 lead. Jenny Freeman’s two-out RBI single scored Savana Guidry for final run of the inning.
The rest was left to Kelly.
Holding a 4-1 lead, Kelly allowed just one baserunner over the final four innings, retiring 13 straight Lady Cougars at one point.
As Nederland came to bat in Game 2, the message from Nederland head coach Will Mallette was simple.
“Let’s finish business.”
And finish business they did, winning a dramatic extra inning nightcap.
With one out in the top of the first, Guidry laced a single into left field and came all the way around to score when Crosby misplayed the ball.
Nederland gave the run back in the bottom of the first and the score remained tied 1-1 until the fourth. With one out again, Jenny Freeman deposited a full-count offering from Cole over the center field fence for a solo home run that gave Nederland a 2-1 lead.
Kelly meanwhile was handling the Crosby hitters, retiring 15 of 16 batters before the Lady Cougars struck for the game-tying run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Power-hitting catcher Ariel Clogston ripped a double to the center field fence and clean-up hitter Abby Walker brought her home with an RBI single.
Tied 2-2 in the seventh, Nederland threatened again. With two outs and Davis on first, Guidry reached on an error. As Davis rounded the bases on the play, a tremendous throw from Crosby first baseman Bailee Pharis deep in foul territory nailed Davis at the plate.
Crosby loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but failed to score as Kelly struck out Amanda McMahan to end the threat.
In the eighth, Nederland pounced on Crosby for three runs. With runners at second and third, courtesy runner Destinie Jones scored on a Crosby error to put the Lady Bulldogs on top 3-2. Kelly then helped her own cause by blooping a two-run single into right field that gave Nederland a 5-2 lead.
With the sweep, the Bulldogs will play the winner of Montgomery/Hutto series.