Call it a must-win, call it having your backs against the wall. Whatever you want to call it, the Kilgore High School softball Lady Bulldogs’ season is on the line tonight.
Kilgore faces Lindale tonight at 6 p.m. here at Stream-Flo Field, right beside Driller Park, to see which of those two teams gets to claim the final playoff spot out of District 16-4A, and then start the UIL Class 4A playoffs against North Lamar later this week: it would be a best-of-three-game series, played in its entirety at Quitman next Thursday and Friday.
For the winner, it’s that playoff spot. For the loser, of course, it’s sayonara, 2021 season.
The Lady Bulldogs, coached by Cheyenne Kirkpatrick, come off a 14-4 win over Chapel Hill last week. Lindale lost an 11-8 decision to Henderson that caused them to be in this jam to begin with – it’s moot now, but if the Lady Eagles had beaten Henderson, this tiebreaker against Kilgore wouldn’t be taking place.
It's the third meeting of the season between KHS and Lindale. The Lady Eagles won the first two – they beat Kilgore, 15-10, in the first meeting, then 6-5 in the second.
For Kilgore this season, seniors Alyssa Whitington, Genna Cavanaugh, Bailey Hedges, and junior Cailey Brown have played in all 24 games this season. Whitington has 20 hits in 62 at-bats, a batting average of .323, seven of them doubles, with 12 RBI. Cavanaugh has 29 hits in 64 at-bats (.453), with 7 RBI and two doubles.
Hedges had 20 hits this year in 54 at-bats (.370), 19 RBI, seven doubles and three triples, and Brown had 16 hits in 49 at-bats (.327), and two doubles, with 9 RBI.
Jaycee Villanueva and Haylee Brown each played in 23 games. Villanueva hit .375, with 21 hits on the season. She had 14 RBI, three doubles and five triples. Haylee Brown had 19 hits (.322), 6 RBI, seven doubles and four triples.
Outfielder Jada Dennis played in 22 games, and had 11 hits, 11 RBI, a double, four triples, and a home run, her first at the varsity level. She finished with a .256 average.
Among the players who played in at least 23 games, Cavanaugh led the Lady Bulldogs in on-base percentage (.485) and in stolen bases (25). Among those same players, Hedges struck out the least (four times all season).
Sifford and Malia Dean, both freshmen, pitched almost every inning for the Lady ‘Dogs this year. Sifford went 5-9 with 17 appearances, and 10 complete games. She had an earned-run average (ERA) of 5.40 and had 38 strikeouts. Dean went 2-6 with 13 appearances, and had an ERA of 6.67, with 13 strikeouts.