Shannon O'Connor exhorts her teammates to keep up the fight after the Lady Longhorns surrendered the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th inning on Thursday night against Pearland.
LADY HORNS FACE MUST-WIN SITUATION TONIGHT
TO KEEP ALIVE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP DREAM
MANVEL -- Dobie's Shannon O'Connor retired 13 of the first 14 batters she faced in extra innings, but two Pearland singles and an infield error lifted the defending state champions to a 2-1 victory over the Lady Longhorns Thursday night in a 12-inning opener to the teams' Regional III softball championship series.
Dobie loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 12th but failed to push across the tying run. Pearland ace Jessica Bowden used a strikeout and slow roller to third base to end the contest and give the Lady Oilers a 1-0 lead in the much anticipated best-of-three series.
The teams play again Friday at 7 p.m. at Manvel High School. A Pearland victory would send the Lady Oilers back to the state tournament.
Dobie needs a victory to force a deciding third game which, if needed, would be played Saturday at 7 p.m., again at Manvel.
O'Connor, a junior, struck out only six but did not walk a batter. She scattered eight hits.
Pearland claimed the lead in the top of the 12th with the help of a pair of one-out singles by Sara Clements and Leandra Maly. With two out, Clements scored from second on a misplayed infield grounder.
Dobie's Faith Roberts led off the bottom of the 12th with a bloop single to right. Courtesy runner Stephanie Cherry to third on a sacrifice and wild pitch but never made it home. Two teammates reached on troublesome rollers as Pearland remained content to hold Cherry on third.
Then, with the bases loaded, Bowden ended the game with a strikeout and a ground ball.
Dobie took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Kellen Gomez coaxed a two-out walk off Bowden and stole second. Amie Gallant followed with an RBI single.
The Lady Oilers tied it in the top of the fourth. Haley Beam led off with a single and Brooke Dubois knotted it with a one-out single to right, scoring courtesy runner Devon Foose.
The Lady Longhorns are hoping to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 1997, when Dobie finished a run of three state titles in the decade.
Shannon O'Connor fires a strike to a Pearland batter in the first inning.
Pardon my dust! Dobie's Kellen Gomez steals second ahead of a third-inning throw to Pearland second baseman Lauren Langer, then vanishes in a cloud of dust illuminated by the setting sun.
Amie Gallant slaps a single to center to score Gomez and give the Lady Longhorns a 1-0 lead in the third.
Pearland ties the game in the top of the fourth as Devon Foose scoots home ahead of a throw to Dobie catcher Ariel Morgan with Shannon O'Connor backing up the play.
Dobie players form a dance line in the dugout to rally their teammates.
A real cliffhanger: Dobie third baseman Faith Roberts closes in on a short pop-up while her teammates wait in suspense. Roberts made the catch to end the top of the sixth inning.
Dobie center fielder Amie Gallant is greeted with high-fives as she returns the dugout after make a catch to end the seventh inning and strand a Pearland runner at third.
Dobie third baseman Faith Roberts fires to first baseman Jenna Medina for the final out in the top of the ninth inning.
Robin Rackley, the Lady Longhorns' head coach, fills the ears of the base umpire with her opinion of a close ball that went the other way.