Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Gatesville falls to Burnett in softball playoffs to end season

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Another softball postseason trek for the Gatesville Lady Hornets has come to a close after their bi-district playoff loss to Burnet. The Lady Hornets dropped the series opener 1-0, then fell 11-1 in the second game of the best-of-three series.

In the opener, the Lady Hornets committed three errors and had just one hit but rode the arms of Madison Hester and Kallie Featherston to a scoreless tie until Burnet broke through with an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Hester faced 18 batters over her five innings of work and allowed just two hits – one of which was a bunt single. She struck out three, walked two, and did not allow a baserunner past second base until the fourth inning.

In the sixth, Featherston took over and was just as effective. Burnet’s leadoff hitter Journey Denton reached on an error to start the inning advanced to third by virtue of a pair of groundouts. She scored what turned out to be the winning run on Gatesville’s second error of the inning.

Down to their final out in the top of the 7th, Kinlee Gardner laced a double to center but the game ended on the base paths two pitches later.

Burnet’s sophomore star Presley Crawford struck out 14 and allowed a run on the double to Gardner. She did not walk a batter.

In game two, Hester and Grace Carothers tallied Gatesville’s two hits, and Madison Hester scored their only run. Crawford was in the circle again for Burnet and pitched four innings of two-hit, one-run ball.

The Lady Hornets were making their second straight postseason appearance and 11th in the last 16 seasons. In 2022, they lost to Lampasas in the bi-district round.

Gatesville will be losing stellar seniors Kaitlin Stuard, Lauren Stuard, and Kagen Hunt to graduation, but will bring back both Hester and Featherston in the circle. Hester also hit .356 and had 15 RBI on the season. The bulk of the offense also is expected to return, as leading hitters Gardner (.390, 4 hone runs), Raylee Glover (.388, 16 doubles), and Ibet Carmona (.377) will be back in 2024.