Eula fends off feisty Aspermont in Region I-1A softball semifinal opener

·5 min read
Eula pitcher McKenna Oglesby throws a pitch to an Aspermont batter in the second inning.
Eula pitcher McKenna Oglesby throws a pitch to an Aspermont batter in the second inning.

For a first-year program, Aspermont showed a lot of grit. Yet Eula’s offensive pressure was a bit too much for the Lady Hornets, while the Lady Pirates – a region finalist last year – played like a team familiar with the postseason.

It all added up to an 8-4 Eula victory in Game 1 of the best-of-three Region I-1A semifinal softball series Friday at Cooper’s Cougar Diamond.

Game is set for noon Saturday at Cougar Diamond. Game 3 would follow, if needed.

The winner plays Hermleigh for the region title and a state tournament berth next week.

Hermleigh finished off Vernon Northside – the No. 1-ranked team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s Class 1A state poll – with a 5-4 win over Friday in Weatherford. The Lady Cardinals won the opener 5-2 on Thursday.

Aspermont, which revived its softball program this year after a 13-year hiatus, led 4-3 before the Lady Pirates sent nine batters to the plate in a four-run fifth inning.

That was enough for Eula pitcher McKenna Oglesby, who allowed a run on two hits – both bunt singles – the final four innings.

“I our main focus going into this weekend is just to make them have to make plays, and in that big inning (in the fifth), that’s what my girls did,” Eula coach Jayton Thompson said. “We made them have to make plays, and it turned out in our favor.”

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Eula's Hallie Cauthen, right, scores on Laney Fostel's sacrifice bunt as Aspermont catcher Mikayla Daniel stretches to make the tag in the second inning.
Eula's Hallie Cauthen, right, scores on Laney Fostel's sacrifice bunt as Aspermont catcher Mikayla Daniel stretches to make the tag in the second inning.

Oglesby also helped herself at the plate with a pair of RBI doubles, a single, walk and two runs.

“I tell people she doesn’t get the praise that she deserves sometimes, because her expectations are so high,” Thompson said. “But that’s why they are what they are, because she goes out there and takes care of business.”

Aspermont coach Kelsey Myers had mixed feelings after the loss.

Her team made too many physical and mental miscues, yet who would think a first-year program would still be playing this late in the season?

“We played a really tough game,” Myers said. “It was a hard-fought game. We had a few too many errors that cost us. Besides that, we did a good job putting the ball in play and making them make a play on us.”

Aspermont's Jessi Rabel, left, and Payton Potts celebrate after Rabel scored on Kelly Lowack's single in the second inning.
Aspermont's Jessi Rabel, left, and Payton Potts celebrate after Rabel scored on Kelly Lowack's single in the second inning.

Long wait, fast start

The game, scheduled to start at 6 p.m., was delayed a little more than two hours by lightning. The game finally started at 8:19 p.m.

Oglesby, a senior, staked herself to a 1-0 lead with a two-out, RBI double in the first inning. Brayli Collins, who had reached on a one-out error, scored on the play.

Aspermont answered with a two-run second. Mylee Van Meter led off with a single, stole second and then pulled off a double steal with Jessi Rabel, who had walked. Kelly Lowack hit a one-out, RBI single, and Rabel scored on a two-out error.

Oglesby tied the game with a two-out, RBI double in the third. Collins, who walked with one out, scored.

The Lady Hornets re-took the lead with a two-run third. Patricia Murguia and Leah Salazar both reached on errors, with Murgia taking third when Salazar reached. Mikayla Daniel and Tatum Polk both followed with RBI groundouts for a 4-2 lead.

Eula's Hallie Cauthen, right, slides toward second base as Aspermont shortstop Leah Salazar tries to make the tag.
Eula's Hallie Cauthen, right, slides toward second base as Aspermont shortstop Leah Salazar tries to make the tag.

The Lady Pirates closed within one on Hallie Cauthen singled and took third on Layla Fostel’s sacrifice bunt. Heads up running by Cauthen, who noticed no one covering the bag, allowed her to take third on the play. She scored on Laney Fostel’s sacrifice bunt.

The wheels fell off for Aspermont in the fifth. Mears led off with a single, Collins reached on an error and Mears scored when Madison Stawarczik reached on a fielder’s choice that resulted in no outs. After Oglesby walked, Cauthen hit a one-out, RBI single. Another run scored on a wild pitch before a throwing error made it 7-4.

It would have been only natural for a young team to pack it in after giving up a big inning like that, but the Lady Hornets continued to fight.

“They are fighters,” Myers said. “Throughout everything – volleyball, basketball, even track – our girls at Aspermont know how to fight. They know how to dig deep and fight. We had a few too many mistakes that cost us. But we did so good for a first-year team. We did better than I expected tonight.”

Aspermont scratched out a run in the bottom of the inning. Potts led off with a bunt single, stole second and took third on Murguia’s sac bunt. She scored on Salazar’s sac bunt.

The Lady Pirates added an insurance run in the seventh. Oglesby singled, and Eula loaded the bases on a pair of one-out bunts – Cauthen reached on an error on one and Layla Fostel beat out a throw for a hit on the second. Laken Goodman, Oglesby’s courtesy runner, scored on a throwing error after Laney Fostel’s liner to the pitcher.

Oglesby got the win, allowing five runs on four hits. She struck out eight and walked two.

Murguia surrendered eight runs on seven hits. She struck out eight and walked four. Eula scored four runs off errors.

Aspermont pitcher Patricia Murguia throws a pitch to a Eula batter in the second inning.
Aspermont pitcher Patricia Murguia throws a pitch to a Eula batter in the second inning.

Strong revival

It was Murguia who got the program revived at Aspermont last spring. She started a petition to bring softball back in April 2021, along with some other girls at the school.

“They got a petition together and had all the girls in athletics sign it, saying they were going to play and had girls committed to the next four years,” Myers said. “The school board approved it, and away we go. We got softball back.”

Little did Myers realize the Lady Hornets – ranked one spot behind No. 9 Eula in the state – would be two wins away from a region finals berth and battling a Lady Pirates' program that's been to the state tournament three times, winning it all in 2006.

“I thought we would be in the playoffs,” she said. “I didn’t think we would make it this far. I knew we had some good girls and play some good ball. But to see how far we’ve come already, a first-year program, it’s amazing.”

Joey D. Richards covers Abilene high schools and colleges, Big Country schools and other local sports. Follow him at Twitter at ARN_Joey. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Eula knocks off Aspermont in region softball semifinal series opener

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