By Rick Atkinson


For the Anna-Melissa Tribune


MELISSA – High school softball is officially in full swing, signaled in part by the third-annual Melissa Lady Cardinals Invitational, Feb. 20-22 at The Z-Plex Texas Sports Village.


At times it was chilly and windy – and other times, down-right cold – but with mostly sunny skies and eight enthusiastic teams on hand, the games went on. Included with Class 4A Melissa and Anna in this non-championship, non-district get-together were Class 4A Community, 4A Farmersville, 3A Bells, 3A Chisum, 3A Blue Ridge and 2A Celeste.


Anna’s Lady Coyotes and Melissa’s Lady Cardinals each earned wins in four of their five contests, leaving the Lady Cards with a 5-1 mark on the young season and the Lady Coyotes at 4-2.


Run rules to end tournament games included being ahead by 10 or more runs after three innings; nine runs after four or eight runs after five. All games used a “drop-dead” time of 90-minutes, with ties allowed.


Below are recaps of all our local teams’ games.


MELISSA


Lady Cards 18, Chisum 0


In a run-rule shortened meeting Feb. 20, Melissa pitcher Bryton Wright 1-hit Chisum’s Lady Mustangs while striking out seven. Offensively, the Lady Cards rolled to 10 hits and collected nine walks in just two at-bats. Wright also went 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and 4 RBIs, while Kayla Stevenson logged a 2-for-2 outing with a double and 4 RBIs. Autumn Bell went 2-for-2 with a triple and 3 RBIs and Savannah Rodriguez posted a 2-for-2 day with 2 RBIs.


Melissa’s eight runs in the first and 10 in the second closed it out.


“I can’t say enough about the way we’ve started,” Lady Cards head coach Eric Rodgers said. “The hitting has been a very pleasant surprise. It’s so early in the year. … I’m really pleased with the way we’ve been hitting the ball, really up and down the lineup.


“We took some walks, which we should have. We’ve got some girls that don’t like to walk but they showed right there, ‘Hey, I’ll get on base however I need to get on base.’ Going back to our last scrimmage and the first two games, I really like our approach at the plate.


“[Bryton] is making it very easy on us thus far. She’s pitching very well. She pitched a great game the other night, even though she wasn’t getting all the calls we though she should have gotten. And I think Savannah is playing great behind the plate. Those two, every time they go out together, they get better and better.”


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Chisum 0 0 0 0 X X X 0 1 2


Melissa 8 10 X X X X X 18 10 1


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Lady Cards 7, Community 0


On Feb. 21, Wright again went the distance in the pitcher’s circle, striking out 16 Lady Braves, walking none and allowing one hit in six innings of work. Maggie Rodgers and Johnson belted a double apiece for Melissa - and Johnson, Wells and Kayla Stevenson each went 2-for-4 at the plate. Two Community pitchers went three innings each and each allowed five hits.


The Lady Cards’ big inning was the fourth when Christie Stevenson and Trinity Needham singled home runs, and Stevenson later stole home for a 6-0 Melissa lead.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Community 0 0 0 0 0 0 X 0 1 0


Melissa 0 1 2 3 1 0 X 7 10 0


______________________________________________________________________________


Lady Cards 9, Blue Ridge 1


Needham and Johnson homered for Melissa Feb. 21 as the Lady Cards muscled past Blue Ridge. Needham went 2-for-3 at the plate with 3 RBIs while Johnson took a 2-for-2 turn with a pair of RBIs. Rodriguez went 2-for-3 for 3 RBIs and Peyton Free slapped a double. Wright struck out nine and walked one in two-hitting the Lady Tigers. Time expired with Blue Ridge at bat in top of the fourth.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Blue Ridge 0 0 1 0 X X X 1 2 4


Melissa 2 3 4 X X X X 9 8 1


________________________________________________________________________________


Lady Cards 10, Celeste 0


On Feb. 22, Melissa surged past the Lady Blue Devils in a run-ruled three innings. Wright allowed no hits and no walks and struck out five from the circle. Johnson led Lady Card hitters, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a 3-run homer and a double for 5 RBIs. Wright swatted two doubles for 2 RBIs and Bell powered a triple into centerfield. Celeste hurt itself with five errors.


Johnson’s 3-run dinger over the centerfield wall accounted for Melissa’s first-inning runs. Wright’s first 2-bagger of the game came next but Celeste got out of the inning. The Lady Cards hit back for four more runs in the second, aided by three errors and two walks. It was Rodriguez’ single to the left side that scored the frame’s final two runs for a 7-0 lead. In the third, Bell’s two-out triple started Melissa’s push to a game-ending three more runs.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Celeste 0 0 0 X X X X 0 0 5


Melissa 3 4 3 X X X X 10 6 0


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Farmersville 6, Lady Cards 2


On Feb. 22, the Lady Farmers used a big 5-run second inning to get past Melissa, who was also slowed by three errors. Kayla Stevenson homered for the Lady Cards in the bottom of the second to cut the lead to 5-1. Then, with Melissa down, 6-1, in the third, Johnson tripled to left field and Rodriguez followed with a 2-out double to center, scoring Johnson. Time expired with Farmersville batting in the top of the fifth.


Pitcher Reese Fetty worked all four innings for the Lady Farmers, giving up five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Wright again went the distance for the Lady Cards, striking out 10 while allowing eight hits and no walks.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Farmersville 0 5 1 0 0 X X 6 8 0


Melissa 0 1 1 0 X X X 2 5


ANNA


Lady Coyotes 3, Farmersville 2


Anna struck for three runs in its first four at-bats Feb. 20 afternoon then hung on to defeat the Lady Farmers. Hannah Morland plated the Lady Coyotes’ first run, stealing home on a pick-off attempt at third in the third inning. Amber Thille’s sacrifice fly then scored Shelby Dombrowski for a 2-0 lead.


Leading off the fourth for the Lady Coyotes, Jacquelyn Packard doubled to left and two batters later Kallie Harris singled to center, scoring Packard, and Anna’s margin was 3-0.


The Lady Farmers answered back in their half of the fourth with a double and a single, back-to-back. A 1-out fielder’s choice back to Thille in the circle then scored a run, cutting the deficit to 3-2. Time expired with Farmersville batting in the bottom of the fifth inning.


Thille worked all 4.1 innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out two. Fetty, for the Lady Farmers, posted four Ks and gave up six hits and three walks. The Lady Coyotes played error-free ball while Farmersville dealt with two miscues.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Anna 0 0 2 1 0 X X 3 6 0


Farmersville 0 0 0 2 0 X X 2 4 2


__________________________________________________________________________


Bells 5, Lady Coyotes 3


On Feb. 21, the Lady Panthers got out to a 3-0 lead then tacked on two more runs after Anna’s Qua Fisher drilled a three-run homer in the second to tie it up. Fisher’s blast easily cleared the left field fence, with the ball sailing into the woods after hitting the batting-cage roof.


Bells’ pitcher tossed three innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs while striking out five and walking one. Anna starter Hannah Price went 2.1 innings, allowing four hits, five walks and two earned runs while striking out four. Thille came on for one inning, posting one strikeout and giving up one hit, two walks and an earned run. A Lady Coyotes error aided Bells’ move to a 4-3 lead in the third.


The time-limited contest ended with the Lady Panthers batting in the top of the fourth, up 5-3.


“I think we did a good job of holding our own,” Anna head coach Jennifer Sluder said. “I’m proud of the way we played. Bells has a solid, solid offensive team - and they’ve got great pitching. Obviously, they have that state-tournament experience - and a lot of those kids were on the [2018] state-championship team too. … It’s early and we’re still figuring things out. If we can continue to make routine plays and hit the ball like we have been, we’ll be just fine.”


Sluder said she was pleased with her pitchers’ efforts. “We don’t want to put anything over the plate, especially to a team like that that can hit. We scrimmaged them early on in the season and their first batter hit a home run, then the girl right behind her. We had the grand slam also.”


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Bells 2 1 1 1 X X X 5 5 0


Anna 0 3 0 X X X X 3 4 1


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Lady Coyotes 13, Celeste 9


Anna easily got past the error-prone Lady Blue Devils Feb. 21 with a nine-hit attack and Thille’s strong turn in the circle. Fisher’s triple to left boosted the Lady Coyotes’ lead to 5-0 in the first inning and Madi McPherson’s ensuing ground-out to second brought her home.


To open the second inning, Harris singled and Morland walked, bringing Madison Gaston to the plate. Gaston doubled to left, plating both runners for an 8-0 Anna advantage. Consecutive singles by Thille and Price followed, scoring Gaston from third. Fisher then walked, setting the stage for McPherson’s 2-run double to right and an 11-0 Lady Coyotes lead. Anna’s final two runs came via errors.


Thille struck out five in three innings of work, permitting two hits and no walks. After three complete frames, the run rule ended play.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Anna 6 7 0 X X X X 13 9 0 Celeste 0 0 0 X X X X 0 2 4


_____________________________________________________________________


Lady Coyotes 12, Chisum 8


Anna overcame an early 4-0 deficit to top the Lady Mustangs Feb. 22. An 8-run second inning lifted the Lady Coyotes to a 10-4 lead after they’d gotten two runs back in the bottom in the first. Chisum out-hit the Lady Coyotes, 9-7, but was slowed by three errors.


Packard’s 2-run triple to right highlighted Anna’s big second inning. Harris and Gaston also provided singles in that frame, while Fisher, Packard and Carley Fullenwider all drew walks. Thille tallied three strikeouts and no walks from the circle. The time-limit was reached with the Lady Mustangs batting in the top of the fourth.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Chisum 4 0 0 4 X X X 8 9 3


Anna 2 8 2 X X X X 12 7 1


_____________________________________________________________________


Lady Coyotes 7, Community 1


In its tourney finale Feb. 22, Anna doubled-up the Lady Braves at the plate, rolling to 14 hits for a comfortable win. Harris went 2-for-3 with the bat, posting a double and a game-high 3 RBIs. Dombrowski went 3-for-4 while Gaston and Thille also had 2-for-3 turns at the plate.


Price worked the first two innings, allowing one hit, two walks and no runs, with a strikeout. Thille came on for the final three frames and struck out four and walked one while allowing one run on six hits.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E


Anna 3 4 0 0 0 X X 7 14 0


Community 0 0 0 0 1 X X 1 7 0