By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
Two wild pitches in the fifth inning were the difference between advancing and going home as the Katy Tigers beat the Ridge Point Panthers 3-0 in a region quarterfinal game last Thursday.
Katy’s Amy Hitt led off the fifth inning with a solid single to centerfield. Hitt was sacrificed to second, and then went to third as Bailee Shashack reached on an error. The Tigers loaded the bases on a bunt single with the runners not advancing. Hitt then scored on a wild pitch to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. A few pitches later, Shashack also scored on another wild pitch making the score 2-0.
“I wasn’t running on the pitch,” Hitt said. “I waited until I was sure it was past the catcher before I took off. It was a close play at the plate, but I scored.”
Katy added an insurance run in the sixth to make the final score 3-0.
Katy advances to the region semifinal where they will play Atascocita this weekend.
For the first four innings, the game was a pitchers’ duel as Katy’s Alyssa LeBlanc and Ridge Point’s Makinzy Herzog both did not allow a run.
Ridge Point threatened in the first inning when they had runners on second and third with no outs due to two Katy errors, but LeBlanc got two groundouts and a strikeout to shut down the rally. Ridge Point came back in the second inning and had runners on first and second but a pop-out double play ended that rally.
Katy had its chance in the second inning with runners on first and third with one out, but Herzog struck out the next batter and got the third out on a fly ball to centerfield. Katy came back in the fourth with runners on first and second with two outs, but Ridge Point catcher Peyton Jackson threw out the runner attempting to steal third, ending the inning and setting the stage for the game deciding fifth inning.
“All of my pitches were working tonight,” LeBlanc said. “When they had runners on in the first and second innings, I just cleared my mind and really focused on each batter, and was able to get outs.”
LeBlanc struck out eight and allowed just four hits to earn the victory.
“I hate to see two bad pitches decide a game at this stage of the playoffs. Both teams made mistakes, but we happened to be on the good side and benefited from them,” Katy coach Kalum Haack said. “I do not like playing one-game series, but I lost the flip and we were lucky to move on. Having played and won a one-game series, this is good experience for us for the state tournament, where every game is a one game series.” Ridge Point ends its season with a 29-5 record.