By BRAD KEITH
GRAHAM (April 25, 2015) — A 10-inning pitchers’ duel ended with Graham securing second place in the 6-4A softball race with a 2-1 win, and Stephenville staring ahead to a seeding game for third and fourth.
Stephenville freshman Julia Flores and Lexie Allen of Graham battled back-and-forth, tic-for-tac, both navigating around the occasional base hit and pitching out of jams when needed, for most of three hours Saturday night, in a game originally scheduled for Friday but postponed 24 hours due to rain.
But Graham got it’s best hitter to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the 10th, and has she has all year, the first baseman delivered. Plaster lined a walk-off single to shallow centerfield, as Graham locked up second place a game behind district champ Mineral Wells. It was the second straight game Graham won in double-digit innings, defeating Brownwood in 12 innings four days prior.
Stephenville is tied for third with Abilene Wylie and Brownwood, and with four teams reaching the playoffs, a three-team tournament is required to break the tie. Because the Honeybees are 3-1 between the three teams and Wylie and Brownwood are each 2-2, the Bees get a bye while they have an elimination game. The winner then meets Stephenville to determine the No. 3 and 4 seeds entering the playoffs.
The bottom of the 10th began with a pop out and a walk, then an infield single and a batter being hit by a pitch loaded the bases for Plaster.
Stephenville had a chance to score in the top of the 10th, when Alexus Duckett led off with a walk and Rainey Boase hit into a fielder’s choice that failed to produce an out. A strikeout left runners at second and first before Morgan Diciccio hit into a fielder’s choice that retired Duckett at third, put Boase at second and Diciccio at first with two away. The inning ended with a pop out in foul territory.
A triple to the right field corner and an RBI on a ground out gave Graham a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Stephenville couldn’t take advantage of a one-out triple by catcher Sierra Varnado in the top of the fifth, but did finally tie the game in the sixth when Jamie Merrill reached on a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Diciccio, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by second-baseman Kali Smith.