Dobie second baseman Alyssa Lerma eyes a throw from catcher Ariel Morgan on an attempted steal by Pearland's Leandra Maly in the third inning. The throw and tag cut down Maly for the second out.
LADY OILERS PECK AWAY FOR 3-1 VICTORY,
THIRD STRAIGHT STATE TOURNAMENT BERTH
MANVEL - In a softball playoff series largely decided in the dust, Dobie's hopes for a nostalgic return to the Class 5A state tournament failed to weather the strong pitching, timely hitting and daring baserunning of Pearland's defending state championship team.
Led by pitching ace Jessica Bowden, the Lady Oilers held the Lady Longhorns to a single run for the second straight night and swept the teams' Regional III championship series with a 3-1 victory on Friday at Manvel High School.
Pearland broke a 1-1 tie with a run in the bottom of the fifth and added a key insurance run in the sixth. Heads-up baserunning factored in both.
In the fifth, an infield bobble by the Lady Longhorns induced Krystal Ogg to break for the plate and score the lead run. Singles by Courtney Sams and Leandra Maly set up the opportunity.
Freshman Kristen Cuyos tripled to the wall in center with one out in the sixth. When Brooke Dubois tapped back to Dobie pitcher Shannon O'Connor, Cuyos dashed home on the throw to first base. She scored in a dusty collision with Dobie catcher Ariel Morgan.
O'Connor turned in another standout performance on the mound, pitching all six innings to go with 12 she tossed Thursday night in a 2-1 Pearland victory.
The Lady Longhorns, however, had few answers for Bowden, who worked into the sixth inning after facing every batter except one in the opener.
The series was a base-to-base struggle marked by close plays in the powdery basepaths of the drought-parched field.
Pearland took a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Cuyos lead off with a single, stole second and scored on a two-out hit by Chelsea Bennett.
The Lady Longhorns pulled even in the fourth. Shelby O'Brien led off with a double, took third on a bunt and scored on a squeeze bunt by Ariel Morgan.
Pearland threaten to reclaim the lead in the bottom half of the inning, but Dobie left fielder Kellen Gomez threw out Stacie Pilkington to end the innng after scooping up a single by Dubois and firing home.
The state tournament berth is the third in a row for the Lady Oilers.
Dobie was attempting to make its first tournament appearance since the Lady Longhorns' one-time state dynasty ended 14 years ago. Dobie won state titles in 1993, 1995 and 1997.
The Lady Longhorns finished the season with a 30-12 record.
Dobie's Amie Gallant slices a soft grounder in the first inning that she beat out for the game's first hit.
Shannon O'Conner, who pitched all 18 innings in the two-game series, delivers to the plate in the bottom of the first while first baseman Jenna Medina takes a ready stance.
Lady Longhorns Danne Ornelas and Amie Gallant help fire up their teammates with a chant from the bench.
Dobie catcher Ariel Morgan slaps a tag on Stacie Pilkington after taking a throw from left fielder Kellen Gomez following a single by Brooke Dubois. The play ended the fourth inning and kept the scored tied 1-1.
Dobie's Chezni Critchfield is gunned down at second on a throw from Pearland catcher Chelsea Bennett to second baseman Lauren Langner. Critchfield had walked and was attempting to advance on a potential wild pitch on ball four.
Dobie students show their spirit from the stands behind the first-base dugout.
Pearland picks up an insurance run in the sixth inning as freshman Kristen Cuyos slips behind Dobie catcher Ariel Morgan, who has trouble finding a handle on a throw from first baseman Jenna Medina. Cuyos broke from third on a routine throw from pitcher Shannon O'Connor to Medina retired Brooke Dubois.
(Left) Cuyos, shaken up, is lifted from a dust pile at home plate after her collision with Morgan. (Right) Dobie left fielder Kellen Gomez makes a sensational catch of a deep drive (ball is shown in the yellow circle) by Krissa Powell to lead off the Pearland sixth.
Dobie Coach Robin Rackley takes a sad walk to the dugout as the Lady Oilers celebrate the final out of the game and another trip to the state tournament.