Ennis advances to play Mesquite Poteet
By Mark Warde
MINEOLA — No. 6 ranked Ennis Lady Lions beat Texarkana 4-0 Saturday to advance in the state girls softball playoffs. Check out Sunday’s paper for more details.
The Lady Lions rode a command performance by senior Taylor Maliska for a 1-0 softball victory over Texarkana’s Texas High on Friday night in the Regional 2, Class 4A Quarterfinals.
The triumph gave the Lady Lions, now 34-5 overall, a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Game two is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. Should a third game be necessary, it would follow at approximately 6 p.m.
The contest was played in East Texas at Mineola High School. It got underway an hour late as a ground crew worked to make the surface playable after heavy rains drenched the area overnight and into the day on Friday.
Conditions threatened early in the game, including a brief spell in the second inning.
The winner of the series advances to face either Little Elm or Mesquite Poteet next week in the Regional Semifinals. Poteet took the opener, 9-3.
Ennis scored the game’s only run in the second inning. It would be enough to top the Lady Tigers (20-12) by the slimmest of margins.
Maliska, a senior southpaw, went the distance to fire a five-hit shutout. She lifted her season record to 21-2. A week after a bout with the flu Maliska returned.
She struck out nine, five in the last two innings, and did not issue a walk. The shutout was her 13th of the season.
Maliska bested her counterpart, Megan Hillis, whose record slipped to 19-10. The Lady Tigers ace yielded just two hits, fanned five and walked two. Hillis hit one player with a pitch.
Senior outfielder Shelby Pruitt led off the second inning by striking out, missing an outside pitch that glanced off the catcher’s mitt and rolled to the backstop. Pruitt alertly jetted to first base.
She promptly swiped second to get into scoring position. After Hillis coaxed the next batter into a pop-up, rain began to pelt the field during Maliska’s first at bat.
Coming to the plate hungry, she ate-up an offering in her wheelhouse, driving it deep to rightfield. The ball cleared the head of a retreating defender and bounced to the fence for a double that easily scored Pruitt.
The only other hit the Lady Lions managed off of Hillis was a two-out bunt single by Julia Hollingsworth. It was placed perfectly between Hillis and the Tigers third-baseman.
Hollingsworth starved to make something happen, but, unlike Maliska, she returning empty. Trying to catch the infield napping, she rounded first in a bid to stretch the single into a double. She was toast at second to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Maliska was mowing down the Texas line-up like spring grass. She cut down two batters in the sixth, one swinging, and one watching.
Protecting a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh inning, she was tagged for a sharply hit triple by Hillis. The ball narrowly sailed over reserve rightfielder Mo Monreal.
Hillis was just sixty-feet away from scoring the equalizer. She would remain there, stranded against Maliska.
The all-state lefty retired Braley Turner, who stood frozen during a called third strike. Mikaela Blasé failed in a bid for a squeeze bunt, another strike out victim.
Marissa Johnston, a senior at Texas High, battled Maliska at the plate. Ennis fans stood and cheered their pitcher when the count went full.
She didn’t disappoint, blazing a drop ball on her 102nd delivery. Johnston waved at it for the final out.