DENTON — It is often said offense is what draws fans to any sporting event.

But it is also said defense is what wins the game.

And that was the case on Thursday.

Katie Cowan fanned 12 as she tossed a four-hitter, while the Cleburne defense was stellar as the Lady Jackets defeated the Sherman Lady Cats in a Region I, Class 4A bi-district playoff game at Denton Guyer High School, 3-0.

“We had great pitching and great defense tonight,” Cleburne head coach Teri Rabe said. “And our seniors really came through for us tonight. This was a good win.”

Cleburne (23-9) advanced to the area round of the playoffs with the victory and will take on Birdville in a best-of-3 series beginning next Friday in North Richland Hills.

But for the first three innings on Thursday, it looked as if Cleburne’s defense would have to remain on its game for a long time as the Lady Jackets had trouble timing the array of off-speed pitches Sherman’s Lisa Johnson was throwing.

Johnson retired the first seven batters she faced, before Kimera Lowrie singled for the Lady Jackets with one out in the bottom of the third. She was stranded at first to end the frame, but Cleburne saw it was able to hit the off-speed pitch.

With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Cleburne went to work.

Senior Janaye Richardson singled to right field and senior Samantha Oleksak followed up with a double.

En route to third, Richardson got tangled up with Sherman shortstop Heather Pace and was thrown out. However, the interference was called, which allowed Richardson to take third.

She scored a little later as Cowan dribbled an infield single down the first base line, giving Cleburne a 1-0 lead and runners at the corners.

However, Sherman ended the threat with a double play, keeping the deficit at just one run.

After a scoreless fifth, Cleburne added two more runs in the sixth.

With one out, Waits stole second base and reached third on a single by Richardson.

Richardson took second on the catcher’s indifference and Oleksak followed with a deep flyout to Britni Williams in left field.

Waits scored easily from third on the play as Richardson took off for third. In an attempt to throw to third, Williams slipped, which gave Richardson enough time to round third base and score, giving Cleburne a 3-0 lead.

That was enough for Cowan as she retired the side in order in the seventh, securing the Cleburne victory.

“Once we were able to adjust to her off-speed pitches, we started hitting the ball hard,” Rabe said. “But we can’t do that against Birdville. We have to show up ready to play and we can’t wait around to hit the ball. Everybody is good in the playoffs and we have to be on our game against them.”

The series opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Birdville High School in North Richland Hills and Game 2 will be played in Cleburne at noon Saturday. If a third game is necessary, it will be contested 30 minutes after the end of the second game.


Region I, Class 4A

Bi-district Playoff

at Denton Guyer High School

Cleburne 3, Sherman 0

Sherman...000 000 0—0 4 0

Cleburne...000 102 x—3 6 0

Lisa Johnson and Megan Milks; Katie Cowan and Bailey Thigpen. WP: Cowan (18-7). LP: Johnson. 2B: CHS—Samantha Oleksak. SAC: SHS—Britni Williams; CHS—Oleksak. SB: CHS—Amberly Waits. DP: Sherman 1, Cleburne 0. LOB: Sherman 4, Cleburne 2. Records: Sherman 15-13-1; Cleburne 23-9.

Daniel Green can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2334, or

React to this story:


Recommended for you