April 24 – The load of a regular season at Texas High School Softball is enough, but the Lady Bulldogs of Kilgore High School sign up for more – and hopefully more after that.
Kilgore finished the regular season with Lindale for fourth place in District 16-4A of the University Interscholastic League. The top four teams in each district go to the playoffs, which is what Kilgore has done for the past three seasons (with the exception of COVID-stopped 2020 when they didn’t happen).
The next step: a play-in game with Lindale to decide which of these teams will move out of traffic jam 16-4A into the postseason. That game will be Monday at 6pm due to rain and storms forecast for Friday, right here on the Stream Flo field next to Driller Park.
KHS trainer Cheyenne Kirkpatrick won a coin toss to secure home advantage.
Kirkpatrick and her Lady Bulldogs defeated Chapel Hill earlier this week and got help from Lindale, which fell to Henderson, and ended up in fourth place with a tie.
“We’re very profitable, as long as we stay focused and intend to win, we can win,” said Kirkpatrick, a former Lady Bulldog herself, of a softball family.
You are playing for the right to play North Lamar in the first round of the 4A playoffs. Should Kilgore beat Lindale, this playoff against North Lamar would be a best-of-three game series that will be played in full in Quitman next Thursday and Friday.
Against Chapel Hill on Tuesday in Kilgore’s 14: 4 victory, the Lady Bulldogs were 1-0 at the end of the first, but got rolling: Kilgore scored four runs in the first, two in the second inning, three in the third, four in the fifth and one in the sixth – 14 runs with 15 hits.
Kilgore made four mistakes but Lindale made up three of her own.
Alyssa Whitington went double 4 on 4 and had 2 RBI. Genna Cavanaugh went 3 against 4 with a doubles and an RBI; Haylee Brown and Bailey Hedges went 4-1 each, and Brown’s hit was a double; Hedges had 3 RBI.
The story goes on
Nawny Sifford had two hits, including a double, and Cerenity Exline also had two, and one was a triple.
Sifford pitched every six innings, allowed four runs (two of which were earned) with six hits, walked one, and hit two.
Offensive this year, Kilgore has been pretty solid. Four players – Senior Whitington, Cavanaugh, Hedges and Junior Cailey Brown – have played in all 24 games this season. Whitington has 20 hits in 62 bats, a strike average of 0.323, seven of them double, with 12 RBI. Cavanaugh has 29 hits in 64 bats (.453), with 7 RBIs and two doubles.
Hedges had 20 hits in 54 at-bats (.370), 19 RBI, seven doubles and three triples that year, and Brown had 16 hits in 49 at-bats (.327) and two doubles with 9 RBI.
Jaycee Villanueva and Haylee Brown played 23 games each. Villanueva hit .375 with 21 goals in the season. She had 14 RBI, three doubles and five triples. Haylee Brown had 19 hits (.322), 6 RBI, seven doubles and four triples.
Outfielder Jada Dennis played 22 games and had 11 hits, 11 RBI, one doubles, four triples and a home run, her first at the varsity level. She finished with an average of .256.
Among players who have played in at least 23 games, Cavanaugh led the Lady Bulldogs in base percentages (0.485) and in stolen bases (25). Hedges struck the least of these players (four times throughout the season).
Sifford and Malia Dean, both newbies, pitched almost every inning for the Lady ‘Dogs this year. Sifford went 5-9 with 17 appearances and 10 complete games. She had an earned run average (ERA) of 5.40 and 38 strikeouts. Dean went 2-6 with 13 appearances and had an ERA of 6.67 with 13 sweeps.