By BRAD KEITH
Photos by RUSSELL HUFFMAN
TheFlashToday.com NEWS & SPORTS – FREE & LOCAL
GRAFORD (May 2, 2015) — Burkburnett sent Stephenville to its fifth consecutive first-round playoff exit Saturday afternoon, defeating the Honeybees 4-0 to sweep a best-of-three Region I-4A bi-district series.
Burkburnett, which won game one 4-2 Friday, scored twice in the top of the fourth, once in the fifth and once in the seventh. The Bulldogs move on to face Decatur or Alvarado in the area round.
A pitchers’ duel through three innings was finally broken up when Burkburnett led off the fourth with doubles by Jaley Matteson and Ally Hardaway. Shelby Langford ran for Hardaway, sliding in ahead of a tag to third on a steal and under a tag to home on a squeeze play with two outs.
Burkburnett extended its advantage to 3-0 when Madison Blair scored under a tag attempt at home on a wild rundown play. Brittani Joshua took off from second to third while Blair was still standing on third base. Joshua started back for second, was cut off by Stephenville shortstop Morgan Diciccio. Joshua dove for third, Blair broke for home and somehow beat the throw and tag.
The inning could have been worse. Burkburnett loaded the bases with no outs on three straight singles, two of them of the infield variety. Matteson then lifted a fly ball to centerfield, and Ashlynn Hoff tried to tag and score from third. But Stephenville sophomore Sami Shaffer caught the fly ball and gunned the ball home just in time for catcher Sierra Varnado to tag Hoff for a double play and the first two outs of the inning.
After the wild rundown scored Blair, a groundout to first ended the frame. Pitcher Ashlee Bragg and the Bulldog defense did the rest, escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the sixth. Stephenville filled the bases with a walk, a one-out fielder’s choice that ended in a throwing error and a hit batsman. But a strikeout and a groundout to first silenced the threat, and Burkburnett extended its advantage again in the seventh.
After two quick outs to begin the final inning, Brittani Joshua reached on a walk, then took second on one throwing error before scoring from there on another. They were the only two errors of the game for Stephenville, and the run was unearned.
Bragg tossed the shutout for Burkburnett, yielding five hits while issuing two walks and one hit batter while striking out five.
Julia Flores went the distance for Stephenville. The freshman struck out eight, allowed seven hits and walked one.