With one swing of the bat, Aledo senior Amanda Watlington broke open a scoreless game.

Watlington smacked a solo homer with one out in the sixth inning and added an RBI single in the seventh to help lift the Ladycats to a 4-1 victory over the Cleburne Lady Jackets, sweeping the regional quarterfinal series.

Thanks to the victory, Aledo (31-6) will face Dumas in the regional semifinals later this week. Cleburne, which had eliminated Aledo in the last two postseasons, closed its season with a record of 25-12.

Not only did the Ladycats get help from Watlington, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Aledo also got some more help in the form of eight Cleburne errors.

“We just didn’t make the plays we normally do,” Cleburne head coach Larry Zachary said. “It’s such a big rivalry between us that I think we may have put a little too much pressure on ourselves to make the plays.”

For five innings, it was a pitcher’s duel between Aledo junior Whitney Canion (29-2) and Cleburne junior Katie Cowan (21-10).

Canion ran into some trouble in the first inning as Skye Stamey singled to right field and took second on a single to left by Cowan.

However, Canion got out of the jam with a strikeout and a strikeout-throw out double play, leaving Cleburne without a run.

For the first five innings, Aledo was able to get a runner to second base, only to see Cowan squash each threat with ground ball outs.

But the sixth inning proved to be the difference.

After striking out Canion, Cowan faced Watlington.

Watlington worked the count to 1-1 before finding the pitch she liked. The lefty took a hefty cut at the next Cowan offering, depositing the ball over the field in right centerfield for a 1-0 lead.

The ensuing three batters all reached by virtue of errors, loading the bases for Rachel Smith.

Smith was unable to move the runners as Cowan retired her on strikes, but Alex Tordiglione managed to push a runner across with a single to center, giving Aledo a 2-0 lead.

Cleburne bounced back with a run in the bottom of the frame.

With two outs and runners at first and second, Aledo catcher Easton Cook attempted to throw out Shelby Contreras at first base.

The ball got past Watlington and rolled into the outfield, allowing Bailey Thigpen to slide in for the run. Contreras reached second on the play as well, but went no further.

Three more errors by Cleburne in the seventh allowed two unearned runs to cross, giving Aledo its final margin of victory.

Canion struck out eight, while allowing one run on five hits with no walks. Cowan surrendered four runs, three of which were unearned, on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

Thigpen led Cleburne with two hits and a run scored.

———

Region I, Class 4A

Best-of-three series

Regional quarterfinals

Game 2

Aledo 4, Cleburne 1

Aledo........................000 002 2—4 6 2

Cleburne..................000 001 0—1 5 8

Whitney Canion and Easton Cook; Katie Cowan and Bailey Thigpen. WP: Canion (29-2). LP: Cowan (21-10). 2B: AHS—Katie Denny. HR: AHS—Amanda Watlington. SB: AHS—Lyndi Samuelson. CS: AHS—Kacey Clauser; CHS—Skye Stamey. DP: Aledo 2, Cleburne 1. LOB: Aledo 7, Cleburne 4. Records: Aledo 31-6; Cleburne 25-12. Series: Aledo wins series, 2-0.



Daniel Green can be reached at

817-645-2441, ext. 2334,

or sports@trcle.com

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