Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

April 11, 2014

GC Softball: Hubbard, Curtis shut out Axtell 3-0

HUBBARD —     For Hubbard’s Olivia Curtis the magic number was 15 -- as in 15 wins and 15 strikeouts.

    But don’t stop counting now. There’s plenty left for Curtis and her Hubbard teammates who have made the most of their stretch run in the district race, and capped off a huge week with a 3-0 win over Axtell on Friday.

    Curtis didn’t give up a run in two crucial games this week, shutting out Bosqueville 6-0 on Tuesday in a first-place showdown, and coming back to fire a two-hit shutout over Axtell on Friday. The win over Bosqueville forges a two-way tie for first place in District 12-1A with Hubbard and Bosqueville standing at the top of the league at 10-1 with one game left.

    If they both win the season finales on Tuesday the two teams will meet at a neutral site (probably Mart) in a one-game playoff.

    That scenario wouldn’t exist without Hubbard’s wins this week, and Curtis was on the mound for both.

    “She’s incredible,’’ said Hubbard Coach Mike Saucke of his ace. “But I have other girls on this team who are incredible, too.’’

    He sure does. Hubbard (21-5-1 and ranked No. 5 in the state poll) made it to the regional finals, just one step from the state tournament in Austin a year ago, and the Lady Jags brought back seven senior, including Saucke’s daughter Kate, who pitches and plays third, catcher Amy Anz, Nakaila Banks and Curtis. Two of his seniors, first baseman Megan Walters and left fielder Haley Davidson, didn’t play Friday because of home economics commitment, but it didn’t matter.

    Aliya Brown played left and Akayla Washington, a relative newcomer to softball, played first and Hubbard kept rolling. Shayla Parks, a freshman who had never touched a softball, glove or bat before this season, played a stellar shortstop, and Jamie Goodpastor, who hadn’t played softball in a couple of years, made a highlight play at second and had two hits on a day when hits and runs were scarce.

    Curtis, who was almost un-hittable, struck out a season high 15 batters to win her 15th game. She’s 15-2-1 and has already made an oral commitment to Mary Hardin Baylor. But before she leaves Hubbard, there’s work to be done.

     It’s almost playoff time, and time for another run, It’s a team loaded with talent from Curtis to Kate Saucke, to Anz and Banks, a group Mike Saucke called his Big 4 on Friday. He was talking about the great job Axtell starter Kinzie Rush did against his team.

    “We hadn’t seen her before,’’ Mike Saucke said. “And it took us a while to adjust. She did a good job  against the Big 4 keeping them from doing what they usually do.’’

    Those four bash and can hammer pitchers. Kate Saucke was the Daily Sun’s Player of the year when she was a sophomore, and all four of those seniors can hit, run and field.

    Rush gave up only five hits, but the Lady Jags made the most of them. Banks led off the bottom of the first with a single, stole second and scored on an error off a ball hit by Curtis to give Hubbard a 1-0 lead.

    The Lady Jags added two runs in the fifth. Once again Banks led the inning off -- this time she walked and stole second, and she came racing home on Curtis’ hard hit single to center. Saucke hit the hardest ball of the day, a deep shot to right that was hauled in, and Anz was retired on a nice play from third. But with two outs Goodpaster came through with an infield hit and Parks followed with a grounder that Axtell’s second baseman couldn’t handle to make it a 3-0 game.

Curtis did the rest. She struck out nine of the first 10 outs and finished up by striking out six in the final three innings.

    “It was a big game,’’ Mike Saucke said. “This is such a good district, The team that finishes third in this district will be better than a lot of teams that win district. We have one game left (Tuesday against Dawson, which is battling Mart for third place), and if we are tied with Bosqueville we will play a one-game playoff game. Whoever is 1 and 2 both teams will make a run in the playoffs, and we could meet Bosqueville in the regional finals.’’

   

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