CELINA — Celina claimed sole possession of first place in District 11-4A with a perhaps tougher than expected 5-2 win over Anna on Monday, April 16. The Lady Coyotes, already eliminated from the playoffs, put up a valiant fight with strong pitching and some defensive gems in this next-to-last district contest — but a 5-0 deficit after five innings was too much to overcome.

Anna pitcher Hannah Howell had good stuff this night, but against the hard-hitting Lady Cats (7-2), solid contact was inevitable. Howell battled, scattering seven hits with three walks while striking out four.

“We played well, we really did,” Lady Coyotes head coach Lindsey Gage said. “We had a couple of mishaps, a couple of calls that could’ve gone either way that really kind of changed the game. Then, it’s just us — the story of the year — not coming up with the big hit. That’s something we haven’t been able to do.

“Hannah threw great. We got some of their big hitters out. That’s all you can ask for from your pitcher. You’ve got to make plays, defensively, behind her. We made some really good plays also, so you can’t take that away from your defense, but we’ve got to be able to make the routine plays. That’s the difference in the game.”

“We definitely were happy with their performance,” Celina head coach Carla Bartlett said of her charges. “They came out, they hit the ball. And getting a win on Senior Night is always awesome.” Lady Cats pitcher Mikayla Galloway scattered four hits with no walks and struck out nine. “Randi [Dobbins] had an injury and was unable to pitch tonight,” Bartlett said. “Mikayla came in and did an awesome job, like she always does. We are really blessed to have two great pitchers that can get the job done.”

For Anna at the plate, Howell and Chastity Brown-Littleton collected a double each and Madison Davis and Madison Gaston posted the Lady Coyotes’ other two hits.

This contest was rescheduled to Monday due to storms on Friday.

Celina opened the bottom of the first with a triple to the center field fence. But that runner was thrown out at the plate after a passed ball when catcher Kallie Harris retrieved it and fired to Howell for the tag. Howell retired the next two batters in order. In Anna’s second, Shelby Dombrowski reached on an error to lead off the frame and, with two outs, stole second with a bit of aggressive base-running. But she was stranded as Galloway got the next batter looking. The Lady Coyotes came up with another slick defensive play to close out the bottom of the second when Dombrowski ‘Hoovered’ up a grounder at shortstop and threw to Gaston at third for the force out.

Finally, in bottom of the third, Celina broke through. After a single and sacrifice bunt, Alexys Gigenaw sent a triple to right and the Lady Cats led, 1-0. A single to center followed for a 2-0 advantage and it went to 3-0 in the fourth on Skylar Vest’s lead-off inside-the-park home run to right. The Lady Cats slapped another triple next, but Dombrowski ended the threat when she chased down and back-handed a fly ball behind third base for the third out.

With Anna down, 3-0, to start the bottom of the fifth, successive questionable calls had a big impact. With one out, a Lady Cat clearly leaned into a pitch and was awarded first base. Two pitches later, Howell fielded a grounder and tossed to Davis at second who appeared to beat the runner for Out 2 but she was deemed safe. Gage questioned both calls but to no avail.

Howell struck out the next batter for what would’ve been the third out — then Shayla Dell’Anno’s double to center field scored both runners.

Trailing, 5-0, the Lady Coyotes’ offense got untracked in the sixth. First, Chastity Brown-Littleton got all of a 1-2 pitch and socked it deep into center field. Davis then knocked a single into center and, with runners at the corners and two out, Howell stepped in and smashed a 2-RBI double to center. In the bottom of the sixth, Dombrowski ranged this time to her left to nab a grounder and flip to Davis at second for Out 2. After a Celina runner reached on an error, Davis ended the inning by fielding a rocket-shot right at her.

In Anna’s seventh, Gaston got aboard with a lead-off single but Galloway retired the next three Lady Coyotes to close it out.

Anna’s season-finale versus Bonham will come less than 24 hours after this weather — rescheduled game’s conclusion — on Tuesday. “I told them they just need to come out and have fun and play for their seniors,” Gage said. “You don’t get those days back. As a senior you want those younger kids to play for you and go out with a bang. It’s a big deal. You go out and you win your last game, that says a lot about you and it says a lot about your character.”