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It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

That may be true, but winning is certainly rewarding, and that is exactly the type of season the Woodlands Stars just completed.

Ranked as one of the top clubs in Texas, four teams from the Stars earned the opportunity to compete at the U.S. Junior Olympic Girls Volleyball Championship with the best athletes in the country. This marks the third year in a row the Stars have competed at the Junior Olympics.

This tradition of success is the result of “a lot of hard work and effort,” said co-owner and coaching director Marie Andersson. “Getting to J.O.s and placing well is not just about one player,” Andersson said. “It takes a whole team. And in this case, that team entails the players, the parents, the coaches and the directors.”

Contending at this year’s Junior Olympics were 788 teams consisting of more than 8,500 athletes.

It turned out to be the perfect opportunity for The Woodlands Stars to shine. The 17 Gold players won first place in the American Division, the 16 Gold team earned fifth place honors in the American Division, the 14 Gold players were fifth in the Open Division and the 15 Gold team took 14th in the Open Division.

Taylor Bustamento (17 Gold), Ali Insell (17 Gold), Breane Matula (17 Gold) and Marissa Wixson (16 Gold) received All-Tournament Honors and were selected to play on the American Division All-Tournament Team. Taylor Bustamento was named All-Tournament M.V.P.

Not only did thousands of volleyball enthusiasts flock to the Games, but so did hundreds of college recruiters. Part of Andersson’s focus is to put players in opportunities to be offered scholarships. By keeping in contact with schools and recruiters throughout the year, setting up videotaping for girls to highlight their talents, and producing cream of the crop players, this year six seniors received college scholarship offers. Next year the plan is to have streaming videos and bios for players on the Stars’ Web site, which could offer a unique advantage.

The Stars show no sign of slowing down. Summer camps and skill sessions are going throughout the summer and invitations to next year’s players have been sent. However, there are some positions still open.

Young ladies who are interested in trying out should attend a skill session at the Legends Sports Complex, home of The Woodlands Stars. Many participate in skill sessions to develop fundamentals and focus for tryouts for their prospective school’s volleyball team.

According to Kris Lartigue, coach of the 16 Gold team, their organization attains “a level of athlete that is more gifted,” and whose hard work throughout the season “really paid off.”

“(Andersson) gets really good coaches and gives them the freedom to coach,” 18 Gold coach Lonn Collins said. “We have made giant leaps and bounds in the club as far as rankings in Texas. It is remarkable.”

This fall will mark the seventh year for the Woodlands Stars and the second year at Legends Sports Complex, the largest multi-sport and fitness complex in southeast Texas. As this season winds down and the next one is gearing up, Andersson reflects on the club’s success.

“Each season is full of differences because there is always change, and change is good,” she said. “We get better every season through ups and downs. Sports are like life there is never a constant up or a constant down. The Stars’ focus is about building up athletes of character, who enjoy and succeed at a high level, where they also learn about life.”

The Class 2010 pitchers are now high school freshman. Rachel Fox, Allie Sanult, and Morgan Hawkins lead this class.

Rachel Fox will be a freshman next year at Fort Bend Baptist. She has a 62 mph fastball. She has an excellent rise ball already. Rachel plays travel ball with Houston Power Gold.

Allie Snault pitches for Sweeny High School. Her fastball has been clocked at 66 mph. Her rise has been clocked at 64 mph.

Morgan Hawkins lives in New Territory, home of College Sports Exposure. Morgan will be a freshman next year at Fort Bend Austin High School. She throws a 60 mph fastball.

Heather Haas, Sydney Friday and Courtney Repka lead this class of Texas pitchers. Heather Haas is a 5' 8" junior pitcher from Shiner High School. Heather has definitely proved herself at the high school level since she has been selected to the Texas Girls Association All-State Class 1A All-State Team and Collin Street Bakery All-State 1st Team Pitcher for her freshman (2006) and sophomore seasons (2007). College Sports Exposure radared Heather's fastball at 61 mph when CSE filmed her softball skills video. Reportedly, Heather has been radared at 65 mph. Heather has an excellent riseball, drop ball, screwball, curve ball and change-up to go with her fastball. Her pitching instructor is Robert Maxey of Shiner, Texas. Heather reminds me of University of Oklahoma and Big 12 2007 MVP pitcher Lauren Eckermann from Brehnam. CSE radered Lauren at 60 mph when we filmed her softball skills video and later got her at 63 mph all night long against Carla Kennimer and New Caney in the play-offs at University of Houston field.

Sydney Friday pitches for The Kincaid School in Houston and Texas Magic Gold Sessum. Last season Sydney pitched for Houston Power 16U. Houston Power 16U won Houston Metro last season. Sydney is 5' 8" and has a riseball, drop ball, curve ball, screwball, fastball and change-up. Sydney throws her fast ball between 61 and 62 mph. College Sports Exposure radared Sydney's fast ball with their Juggs gun at 61 mph on her film day. More importantly, Sydney's riseball spin is routinely 36-38 revolutions as measured with a revfire. College pitchers routine spin is 20 to 30 revolutions.

Courtney Repka is 6' 1" tall and still growing. She reminds of a right handed Cat Osterman. She throws a 67 mph fastball and can throw a change-up, rise ball, drop ball, screw ball and curve ball. She lives in East Bernard. Her fastball was clocked at 67 mph by Tim Timmons at one of his pitching classes with a Juggs Radar Gun. Her travel team is the 18U Magic Gold coached by Tommy Howell in Missouri City, Texas. Courtney verbally committed to Baylor in early Dec. of her junior year.

Kristen Curlin is primarily a riseball pitcher at this stage. She pitches for Deer Park High School and Texas Shockwave Gold. When she keeps her riseball low in the strike zone, she is a very dominate pitcher. She was the starting and winning pitcher against Larry Durham Storm Gold at the ASA Gold Regionals in Beaumont this summer. Kristen kept her riseball in the strike zone in that game for a 5-2 win that dropped Durham Storm's team into looser bracket. Kristen also has a change-up, drop ball, screw ball and curve ball. CSE radared Kristen's fastball when they filmed her softball skills video at 58 mph. As you most college coaches know, pitchers always throw harder in big games when their adrenalin is pumping. Last spring, Cy-Falls Eagles qualified for the play-offs in 2007 for the first time in school history (11 years). Cy-Falls advanced to the 5A Regionals Quarter Finals.

Brittany Taylor was a back-up pitcher on their varsity team. She finished 4-0 in District and 6-0 for the season for the Cy-Falls Eagles as a pitcher. This summer, Brittany played 1st, 3rd and pitched for Glory out of Dallas. Houston Power Gold picked Brittany up for ASA Gold Nationals in Oklahoma. Brittany will be playing for Aces Gold this fall and is considered on of the top hitters and 3rd baseman in the 2009 class.

The Class 2008 pitchers starts with Mollie GrubbsMollie Gubbs is a 5' 7" pitcher for Cy-Fair High School and Tomball Sting. She throws her fastball between 59 and 60 mph. She also throws a riseball, drop ball, curve ball, screw ball and change-up. As a freshman, Mollie's first varsity hit was a grand slam. Her second varsity hit was a home run.

College Sports Exposure also visited Alabama and filmed two of their top 2008 pitchers. Stormie Henderson and Haley Hutchins both pitch for Bama Blast.Stormie is a Bobby Smith pitcher. She throws the rise ball, drop ball, curve ball, curve drop, screw ball, change-up and fastball. Stormie also plays middle infield and runs from home to home in 12:20 seconds.

Haley is about 6' 0" tall and throws a 63 mph fastball (Juggs). She has throws a excellent curve ball, rise ball and change-up. Haley also hit 4 homeruns out of park during her film session

Jessie Patrick from Southlake, Lauren Highsmith of Houston Lamar and Kirsten Shortridge of Birdville High School leads this class of pitchers. Jessie Patrick and Kirsten Shortridge have already verbally committed to Baylor University. Jessie and Lauren have one of the best rise balls I have seen since the Class of 2000 graduated. College Sports Exposure radar Jessis throwing the rise ball at 59 to 60 mph when she was a freshman. She also throws it low enough in the strike zone where the batter has to swing to protect the plate. Jessie also a peel drop, screw ball and change-up. She mixes her pitches and hits her spots like a veteran pitcher. Jessie travel team is the 18U Spring-Klein Impact Gold. She pitches for Southlake Carroll High School.

Lauren Highsmith is the top pitcher in the Houston Area. Lauren has a perfect arm circle and polished mechanics. College Sports Exposure radar Lauren throwing between 63 to 64 mph in the Lamar High School vs Bellaire District Championship game (April 23). Lauren pitches for the 18U Texas Sting Gold. Texas Sting Gold finished 4th at the 2005 Colorado Sparkler. Lauren was clocked throwing her rise ball at 63 mph in a night game at the Colorado Sparkler. Her rise and screw ball are two of her best pitches. She also throws a curve, turn-over drop, change-up and fastball.

Kirsten Shortridge from Birdville High School in Fort Worth and Fort Worth Batbusters Red is another excellent pitcher. She has been reported to throws her fastball at about 65 mph.

Libby Dennis is a 5'10" pitcher from Langham Creek and 16U Texas Storm. She has a very good change-up, rise ball, drop ball, curve-ball, curve-drop and screw ball. College Sports Exposure has radared Libby throwing between 58 and 61 mph. Libby has already made a verbal commitment to Texas State University (Dec., 2004).

Brittany Cuevas is a pitcher for Brazoswood High School and High Voltage. College Sports Exposure radar Brittany throwing 65 mph consistently at the 18U ASA Gold Sector Tournament at Dyess Park in Cypress, Texas.

Anna Whiddon is a 5'7" or 5'8" pitcher from Huntington, Texas near Lufkin. She pitches for 18U Texas Eclipse Gold. She throws her fastball in the 60's. When College Sports Exposure filmed her video, she was radared at 61. She reportedly throws as high as 63 or 64 mph. She has all the pitches; i.e. rise ball, drop ball, screw ball, curve ball, change-up and fastball. Anna also hits home runs. She hit about 4 out of the park home runs when College Sports Exposure filmed her video in Huntington High School.

Cody Trahan is a 5' 11 3/4 inch tall pitcher from Little Cypress Mauriceville and 18U Gold Beuamont Blast. Cody usually throws about 61 mph. College Sports Exposure radared one pitch at 64 mph.

Courtney Bridges is a 5'10" pitcher for the 18U Texas Sting and New Caney High School. Her curve-ball or rise ball are her best movement pitches. Courtney was clocked throwing her curve ball at the 2004 NFCA Ronald McDonald tournament at 65 mph. Courtney also throws a turn-over drop, fastball, change-up and off-speed. She usually throws the off-speed on the outside corner where it curves away from the batter and drops. College Sports Exposure radared Courtney throwing her fastball at 63 mph during her film session. Courtney also hit two home runs out of the Humble High School park when College Sports Exposure filmed her video.

Erin Tresselt is a pitcher for Elkins High School and Texas Magic Gold. She is primarily a drop ball pitcher.

Caityn Luetge is a 5' 7" pitcher from Rockdale, Texas. Caitlyn is another excellent pitcher She plays travel ball with West Express. She throws a fastball, change-up, screwball, turn-over drop, curve, rise and off-speed. Her fastball is reported to be 62 to 65 mph.

Brittany Tomchesson is a pitcher for Foster High School which is north of Rosenberg-Richmond. She throws a fastball, knuckle ball, drop, rise, curve and screw ball. Brittany is reported to throw her fastball between 58 and 60 mph.

Casey Matzke is a pitcher from Wharton High School and 18U Houston Power Gold.

Amanda Lindsey is a pitcher for 18U Missouri City Magic Gold and Lamar Consolidated High School. She throws a fastball, very good change-up and drop. She is reported to throw her fastball between 58 and 62 mph.

Meagan Kaufmann is a 5' 7" pitcher for the 18U Texas Gulf Coast Challengers and Bay Area Christian School in League City, Texas. She has a fastball, change-up, drop, rise, drop change and knuckle ball.

18U Texas Blast Gold coached by Verde and 18U Texas Eclipse coached by Ken Glass met in a 8:00 pm Friday night game in the Blue Division Bracket at Ford Complex in the AFA North American Championship in Beaumont, Texas to decide the Bracket champion. Texas Blast Gold reached the Winner's Bracket game by defeating Texas San Antonio nightmare (6-1), Oklahoma Storm (7-0), Texas SMI Texas Steelers (5-3) and California Runnin. Texas Eclipse beat the Sugar Land Shock, Southern California Select (6-0), Texas Smash (1-0) and Texas Cy-Fair Intruders Parrish (2-0).

The game was scoreless until the 5th inning. With one out, Blast Heather Warren hit a line drive over Eclipse short stop Stephanie Estrada's head. Melissa Verde then doubled scoring Heather. Lauren Parker hit a line drive to short stop Estrada for out No. 2. Deseri Griffin reached first base on a throwing error by the Eclipse third baseman. Melissa Verde scored on the play bringing the score to 2-0. Megan Godwin struck-out to end the inning.

Melissa Verde scored again in the 7th inning. She hit a line drive in the left center gap for a single. Lauren Parker reached first base safely on a sacrifice bunt. When Melissa was going to 2nd base on Lauren's bunt, Melissa kept going to 3rd because no one was covering the 3rd base bag. The 3rd baseman had come up for the bunt. Deseri Griffin popped up to the left fielder for out No. 1. Megan Godwin drew a walk. Bases were loaded. Melissa scored when the short stop fielding Karli Hubbard's grounder threw wide to catcher Lana Bowers in an attempt to get the force at home.

Cody Trahan recorded the shut-out on the rubber. Cody is a 2006 graduate and has already verballed to LSU. She had 13 strike-outs in 7 innings. Cody ony gave-up 2 hits and walked two batters.

Amanda Crabtree and Maranda Bishop got the two hits for the Eclipse in the 6th inning. With one out, Amanda Crabtree hit a line drive down the first base line for a single. Maranda reached first on a bunt. Amanda got picked off at 2nd base by Blast Catcher Jessica Lemoine for out No. 2. The next batter struck-out to end the inning.

Anna Whiddon and Kristi Malpas shared the pitching duties for the Eclipse. Anna pitched the first 4 innings and to the first two batters in the 5th inning before being releieved by Kristi. Anna relieved Kristi in the 7th inning. Anna had 5 strike-outs and gave-up 1 walk and 7 hits. Kristi had two strike-outs and gave-up 2 hits and walked no batters.

Melissa Verde, Lauren Parker, Jessica Lemoine each had two hits. Melissa had a double in the 5th inning and a single in the 7th inning. Melissa scored two runs. Lauren had a double in the first inning and a bunt single in the 7th inning. Jessica hit a line drive to center field in the 2nd inning for a single and line drive in the left center gap in the 6th inning.

Deseri Griffin, Tiffany Autry and Heather Warren each had singles. Deseri hit a line drive in the left center gap in the 3rd inning. Heather hit a line drive in the left center gap in the 5th inning. She eventually scored. Tiffany Autry hit a Texas Leaguer over the short stops head for a single in the 6th inning.

The Runnin Rebels eliminated Texas Eclipse in the Blue Looser's Bracket. Blast defeated the Runnin Rebels to reach the Championship Sunday where the 4 undefeated winners from the Blue, Purple, Green & Red met each other. The North American Championship Final Four teams were Illinois Stone City Sharks (Purple), Texas Blast Gold (Blue), Tomboys (Green) and Houston Poweer Gold (Red). Blast Gold beat Houston Power and then the Tomboys from Wylie, Texas to win the 2005 North American Championhsip on Championship Sunday.

18U Texas Storm Gold coached by Ronn Dixon and 18U Rapid Fire coached by Brian Menefee met in a 8:30am Saturday game in the looser's Purple Division Bracket at Ford Complex in the AFA North American Championship in Beaumont, Texas. Texas Storm reached the Looser's Bracket game by defeating Texas Cyclones (10-0),Cy-Fair Sliders (2-0) before losing to Illinois City Sharks (1-7) in the Winner's Bracket. In the looser's bracket, Texas Storm beat the Texas Centex Babes (6-2).

Texas Storm took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Mariza Martinez hit a line drive in the left center gap for a triple. Kristina Tello was safe on a fielder's choice at first base from a left side drag because Rapid Fire was concerned about Mariza scoring from third. Kristina stole 2nd base to put runners at 2nd and 3rd bases. Senior Randi Stuard then slap the ball up the middle for a single to load the bases. Courtney Petit then hit the ball deep into right field for out No. 1. Mariza tagged up on the play and scored. Kiersten Dixon flied out to the short stop for out No. 2 and Courtney Lavender flied out to the left fielder for out No. 3.

Texas Storm added 2 more insurance runs in the 5th inning. Ashley Miller grounded out to 2nd baseman Katie Purcell for out No. 1. Mariza Martinez hit a hot grounder for a single back at the pitcher who could only deflect the ball. Mariza stold 2nd base. Kristina Tello struck out for out No. 2. Randi Stuard placed a left side drag fro a single. Mariza reached 3rd on the slap. With Courtney Petit at bat, Mariza then scored on a pass ball for a 2-0 lead. Randi advanced to 2nd base on the play. Randi stole 3rd. The catcher throw to 3rd base to get Randi, but nobody was covering the base. Randi then went home making the score 3-0. Courtney Petit walked. Kiesten Dixon ended the inning with a fly to the short stop.

Junior Mallory Cantler started the game for Texas Storm on the rubber and went all 7 innings to record the shut-out. Mallory struck-out two Rapid Fire batters and gave-up 3 singles. She did not walk a batter. Mallory helped herself out in the 2nd inning by starting a double play. Mallory caught Katie Purcell's grounder, turned around and threw to Kristina Tello who was covering the bag at 2nd who threw to 1st baseman Courtney Petit to get the 2nd out at first.

Rapid Fire pitcher Julie Smith, short stop Kara L'Huller and Katie Peterson each singled. Julie singled in the 6th inning. Kara and Katie singled in the 7th inning.

Julie Smith pitched the whole game for Rapid Fire. Julie gave up the 3 runs and gave-up 7 hits and one walk.

Mariza Martinez, Kristina Tello, Randi stuard, Kristin Kappler and Krystn Sendejas got the hits for Storm. Mariza and Randi led the attack with two hits apiece. Mariza opened the game with a triple and then singled up the middle in the 5th inning. Randi single via a slap in the 1st inning and then drag single in the 5th inning. Kristina Tello slapped up the middle for a single in the 3rd inning. Kristin Kappler hit a a fly deep in the right center gap for a double in the 4th inning. Krystn Sendejas singled on the 7th inning.

Texas Blast Gold coached by Robert Verde defeated the South Houston Mystixxs coached by Ricki Garza 5-1 to win the 18U ASA Gold Sector Qualifier in Cypress, Texas at Dyess Park. The top four teams in the tournament qualified for a birth in the ASA Gold Nationals held August 8 to 14 in Salinas, California. Texas High Voltage coached by Todd Morris and Cy-Fair Intruders coached by Dan Johnson were the other two qualifying teams.

The Blast reached the championship game by defeating

The Mystixxs reached the championship game by defeating Then they lost to the Blast in the Winner's Bracket game (0-8). They defeated High Voltage by a score of

Blast scoree 4 runs in the 2nd inning from 5 hits. With 1 Out, Tiffany Autry singled to right field. Karli Hubbard followed with a single in the left center gap. Amanda Hill sacrifice bunt was picked up by the Mystixxs catcher and thrown to the 3rd baseman covering 3rd base to get the force out. Heather Warren hit a Texas Leaguer behind 1st base for a single. Karli scored on the play to give the Blast a 1-0 lead. Melissa Verde drew a walk to load the bases. Lauren Parker then hit a line drive single to center field. Amanda Hill and Heather Warren scored. Deseri Griffin then singled up the middle, scoring Melissa Verde. Meagan Godwin then struck-out to end the inning.

The Mystixxs answered back with a run in the 5th inning. Kaci Phillips reached first on an error by the 3rd baseman. Kim Chavez was safe at 1st. Jessie Salas flied out to the 2nd baseman for out No. 1. Kacie moved to 3rd and Kim to 2nd base after a wild pitch. Iver McDonald then hit a line drive single in the gap between 3rd base and short stop. Kaci Phillips scored on the play. Krista Sitka singled to right field. The bases were loaded. Tamara Bradley hit a grounder to 3rd baseman Deseri Griffin who threw home to get the force at the plate for out No. 2. Tamara reached first base on a fielder's choice. Kara Rau flied out to the center fielder Meagan Godwin for out No. 3.

Blast added an insurance run in the 7th inning. Karli Hubbard led off the inning with a single to center field. Amanda Hill was out on a sacrifice bunt. Karli went from 1st to 3rd on Amanda's bunt. Heather Warren was safe on a fielder's choice. Heather hit the ball to the Mystixxs short stop who threw home to get Karli. Karli was safe and the score was 5-1. Melissa Verde hit a line drive to center field. The center fielder threw to the Mystixx's short stop covering 2nd base for the force out. Lauren Parker then grounded out to the third basemanfor out No. 3.

Amanda Hill and Melissa Verde were the pitchers for the Blast. Amanda and Melissa are University of Lousiana at Lafayette (ULL) signees. Amanda pitched the first 5 innings and Melissa pitched the last two innings. Amanda Hill was radared throwing her fast ball by College Sports Exposure consistently at 61 mph and her change-up at 48 mph. She had two strike-outs, one walk and gave-up 5 singles. Melissa Verde's fastball was clocked between 58 and 61 mph and her change-up at 45 mph. Melissa had three strike-outs and gave-up no hits.

Kim Chavez, Jessie Salas, Iver McDonald, Krista Sitka and Kara Rau got the 5 singles for the Mystixxs. Kim and Jessie had a bunt singles in the 3rd inning. Kara Rau had a single in the 4th inning. Iver hit a line drive in the gap between 3rd base and the short stop in the 5th inning. Krista singled to right field in the 5th inning.

Lindsey Ferguson pitched the game for the Mystixxs. Lindsey had 3 strike-outs, 2 walks and gave-up 8 hits.

Melissa Verde, Lauren Parker, Deseri Griffin, Jessica Lemoine, Tiffany Autry, Karli Hubbard and Heather Warren all had hits for the Blast. Melissa led off the game with a hard hit ball that ricocheted off the glove of the pitcher for a single. Tiffany, Karli, Heather, Lauren and Deseri all had hits in the 2nd inning that led to 4 scores. Jessica singled in the gap between third base and short stop in the 6th inning. Karli singled in the gap between third base and short stop and Melissa added her 2nd hit which was a line drive to center field in the 7th inning.

18U Texas Sting Gold coached by Rick Bentley and 18U Arizona East Valley Pride met in a pm Saturday game in the Silver Bracket at Olympic Park in Westminster, Colorado to decide who would advance to the Looser Bracket Championship game. Texas Sting Gold reached the game by defeating CS Express National from Alabama (10-3), Texas Explosion (14-0), California Tornados (9-3), loosing to the SMI Texas Steelers (0-1), beating Washington Rainer Jets (4-3).

Texas Sting Gold finished the highest of any Texas team in the Sparkler, Fireworks or Louisville Slugger in Colorado during the fourth of July weekend this summer. Texas Sting's 4th place finish was better than the 5th or 6th place finish by Impact Gold at the Fireworks or the 7th or the 8th place finish by the Houston Power at the Louisville Slugger in Boulder.

Arizona East Valley Pride broke the shut-out in the 3rd inning. Gabbie Wydogen led off the inning with a line drive single to center field. Pitcher Debbie Shisler then reached 1st base on a bunt single. Michelle Pulsipher struck-out for out No. 1. Short stop Kalie Germaine walked to load the bases. Amy Gaines then hit a the ball up the middle bringing home Gabbie and Debbie for a 2-0 lead. Pitcher Lauren Highsmith then struck-out Taylor Hoffman and got Dana Johnson to ground out to her for the last two outs of the inning.

Texas Sting tried to rally in the 5th inning. With two outs, Erica Acosta from Tomball, Texas reached 1st base safely on an error by the short stop. Michelle Ege singled to right field. Lisa Bentley reached 1st base on an error by the pitcher and Erica scored on the play to bring the score to 2-1 in favor of Arizona East Valley Pride. Amy Pizzitola flied out to center fielder Michelle Pulsipher to end the inning.

Lauren Highsmith pitched the whole game for the Texas Sting. This was her 6th game of the tournament and she was quite tired. Lauren finished the tournament with a 6-2 win-loss record. College Sports Exposure radar Lauren throwing between 59 and 60 mph in this game. In prior games in the Sparkler, Lauren was radared between 61 and 63 mph. Lauren is primarily a rise ball and screw ball pitcher but sprinkles in a curve ball, change and turn-over drop. Her screw ball is her go-to-pitch when she is behind in the count. Lauren struck-out 7 batters, walked two batters and gave-up 6 hits in this game.

Debbie Shisler, Kalie Germaine, Amy Gaines and Gabbie Wydogen got the five hits for the Arizona East Valley Pride. Debbie had a bunt single in the 3rd inning and another single in the gap between 3rd base & short stop in the 6th inning. Kalie hit a line drive in teh gap between 3rd base and short stop for a single in the 5th inning. Amy had a 2 RBI single up the middle in the 3rd inning. Gabbie had a line drive single up the middle in the 3rd inning and another single in the gap between 3rd and short stop in the 6th inning.

Debbie Shisler pitched all six innings for Arizona East Valley Pride. Debbie struck-out 4 batters, walked one and gave-up 4 hits.

2nd Baseman Izzy Glowney, short stop Lexi Stephens and Michelle Ege got the four hits. Izzy led off with a single up the middle in the 1st inning. Michelle hit a line drive single up the middle in the 1st inning and singled to right field in the 5th inning. Lexi singled in the 3rd inning.

The Northwest High School softball team has a knack of making sure fans get their money’s worth when it comes to the playoffs. The Lady Texans have forced extra innings in their last three post-season games, dating back to last season.

So it came as no surprise that Friday’s Class 4A bi-district playoff game against Mesquite Poteet came down to extra innings. NHS, which had lost three of its last four games in extra innings, was not denied this time. The Lady Texans got two runs in the top of the eighth inning and then held the Lady Pirates scoreless to secure a 3-1 victory.

Pitcher Brittany Barnhill snapped Northwest’s overtime blues with an inning that belonged to her entirely. The sophomore smashed a two-run home run in the eighth to give her team the lead, then she took the field and struck out two of the final three batters.

The extra inning heroics will send her team to the regional quarterfinals later this week.

“We focused on the games we won (in extra innings) and remembered that coming in,” said NHS coach Tanya Laird. “It was our turn to win one of these kinds of games and the girls stuck with it.”

The Lady Texans improved to 25-5 and move on to the third round of the state playoffs where they will face district foe McKinney North – the No. 1 team in the state. The Bulldogs swept Forney in a best-of-three series. Mesquite Poteet, the District 11-4A champion, ended the season at 24-7.

In its playoff win, Northwest produced the winning runs in dramatic fashion. Lady Texan Michele Huff got things started in the eighth inning with a leadoff walk.

It appeared that NHS was going to strand another base runner as the next two batters struck out. That’s when Barnhill delivered the knock-out punch. The sophomore crushed a pair of line drives that were foul, one of which cleared the outfield wall. Huff stole second, but the Pirates mistakenly chose to pitch to Barnhill rather than intentionally walk her. She made Poteet pay for that decision as she hammered a 1-2 pitch to the wall for a two-run home run and the winning margin.

“I didn’t think she would give me anything close to hit,” Barnhill said of her winning hit. “I’m really glad she did, though. I really am. She has great stuff and usually gets me.”

The Lady Texans scored their first run in the third inning. Poteet answered in the fourth inning when Rebecca Hollis doubled to tie the game at 1-1.

After settling for a third-place finish in a brutal District 9-4A race, the Northwest High School softball team wanted to make some noise in the Region II bi-district round of the state playoffs.

The Lady Texans got their first chance last Friday at home against Dallas Hillcrest. Led by a spectacular pitching performance by Brittany Barnhill and a punishing effort at the plate by Kara Gaines and Lindsey Freeman, NHS bounced Hillcrest from the playoffs with a 10-0 victory.

Barnhill made sure the Dallas squad never had a chance. The sophomore standout allowed just one base runner in the game and that was more than enough on a night the NHS bats came to life.

“Our team goal was not to underestimate Hillcrest. We wanted to win every inning, and we did,” NHS coach Tonya Laird said. “Brittany did a great job. She didn’t miss but a few shots the whole night. The only hit they got was that one that rolled by second base. Brittany did a good job.”

The win pushed Northwest to 24-5 and will advance to play Mesquite Poteet in the area playoffs on Friday in Mansfield. The game has been tentatively set for 6 p.m. Hillcrest, who also faced Northwest in the first round of the volleyball and basketball playoffs, ended its season at 17-6-1.

Lady Texan ace Brittany Barnhill, who won her 22nd game of the season, struck out 14 of the 16 batters she faced and came within inches of a perfect game. Her only blemish was in the second inning when Hillcrest hitter Morgan Carr hit a slow roller up the middle and just out of second baseman Amy Reid's reach.

The hit would have done very little to slow Northwest. In fact, the Lady Texans scored five runs in their first at-bat. Gaines, Freeman and Barnhill all had hits in the early assault which put NHS ahead 5-0 after one inning.

Hillcrest had no answer. Barnhill struck out the first five batters she faced. She fanned nine more after Hillcrest erased what would have been a perfect game for the NHS pitcher.

The Lady Texans added one run in the second inning, two in the third and two in the fourth to chase starting pitcher Marci Mango from the game.

The mercy rule was enforced in the fifth inning which Hillcrest failed to cut the lead to less than 10 runs.

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