ROSENBERG — Just call them the masters of the two-out rally.
The Santa Fe Lady Indians showed no quit in some tough spots as they battled for a 4-1 win against Tomball Memorial on Friday at Lamar Consolidated to claim an area championship with a two-game sweep of their playoff series.
They now move on to the third round of the state playoffs.
“It just shows the kids have the mentality to continue battling no matter what,” Santa Fe head coach Trish Leidy said. “They just never quit.”
In a three-run bottom of the fourth inning that proved to be the difference in the game, pitcher Shelbi Sunseri led off with a double to center field. Sunseri’s courtesy runner Victoria Davidson tagged up and advanced to third on a pop fly to shallow left field after Memorial left third base unattended.
A strikeout dimmed Santa Fe’s chances of taking advantage of the opportunity to break a 1-1 tie, but a throw by Memorial pitcher Trystan Melancon got by catcher Kaycie Moore, and Davidson deftly slid under the tag in the play at the plate to put the Lady Indians ahead, 2-1.
Santa Fe catcher Haley Chavez kept her team’s rally going by crushing a double off the left field fence. Designated player Kayla Tisdale hit a ball in the right-center field gap that bounced off the center fielder’s glove to score courtesy runner Stephanie Reed, then center fielder Shelbi Doherty smacked a double over the head of her Memorial counterpart to bring home Tisdale to make the score 4-1.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, the only Lady Indian to have a hit on Melancon was Santa Fe’s third batter, second baseman Courtney Clark. Right fielder Erin Palmer hustled her way to an infield single to bring Clark up for her second at-bat.
“I just knew we needed somebody to step up and get it going,” Clark said. “We’ve been really good at the two-out rallies lately.”
Clark did just that, sending a deep drive over the left fielder’s reach to score Palmer and tie the game, 1-1.
Santa Fe’s freshman ace Sunseri had a rough go of it to start Friday’s game, throwing 34 pitches in the top of the first inning and giving up her only run of the game.
After striking out Memorial’s leadoff hitter, a walk and a single put runners on the corners, and a passed ball scored a run for Memorial.
Another walk put runners on first and second with one out, but Sunseri hunkered down and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, Memorial got two singles to again get runners on first and second with one out — this time with the Lady Wildcats’ best hitter due up.
Although Memorial shortstop Abby Hall was 2-for-2 with two singles at that point, Sunseri went right after her and forced a weak grounder to first base for an unassisted out.
Clark chased down a fly ball in foul territory on the first base side to make a nice play for the inning’s final out.
Sunseri again faced Hall with Memorial down to their final out of the game with a runner on first. She fell behind in the count, 3-0, then worked it back to a full count.
After two pitches were fouled back, Sunseri easily fielded a grounder hit to the mound and tossed it to first to seal the Santa Fe win.