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The Lady Hawks needed three games to advance to Saturday’s second round, and nothing was handed to them easily, as Houlka fought throughout before falling 8-5 in the deciding third game.
“They came out swinging, and they swung all night,” Myrtle coach Robert Gordon said. “They hit the ball very well throughout the entire lineup, and they made some outstanding plays; plays that I thought ‘that’s going to beat her,’ and when we had a little momentum, they let the air out with a shoe string catch or something like that.”
Myrtle jumped to a 3-0 lead with RBIs from Meshay Cox, Jenna Jordan and Keely Chunn, but the Lady Wildcats tied things in the third off three hits. The final push the Lady Hawks needed came in the fifth, as Cox hit a three-run shot followed by runs scored off two errors. Myrtle’s defense held Houlka to only two more runs in the sixth to advance to the next round.
The Lady Hawks picked up a win in the first game, 18-11, large in part to four hits from Chunn, including two base clearing triples. Aspriona Gilbert had three hits, followed by Jordan, Kiana Judon and Brianna Brassell with two hits each.
“Keely came through, and I just made that move to help out Aspriona,” Gordon said. “I put Keely there because she’s been swinging well both in practice and in games and she’s really stepped it up. She came through big and her hard work paid dividends tonight, because her help is what separated us.”
Houlka bounced back with a 14-10 win in game two off two home runs from Ranesha Townsend. Cox opened the game with a solo shot, finishing with three hits in the game.
Down 11-7 in the fifth, Cox hit a two-run triple, making it 11-9, followed by an RBI single from Jordan, but Townsend’s second home run along with a Lady Hawk error and a single gave the Lady Wildcats the distance they needed to force a deciding game three.
“We didn’t play well, and the girls will tell you that,” Gordon said. “We’re not satisfied, and we’re to the point where we’re trying to get through the four stages. This was the first stage, and we’re not looking ahead. We’re wanting to get to the state championship; that’s our goal. That’s what these girls want, but we have got to get better.”
Myrtle will now face Ray Brooks on Saturday after they defeated Jumpertown, 12-11 and 18-7.
“We’re going to work on a lot of situational stuff and just hit,” Gordon said. “We’ve got to be more solid one through ten. We’ve had a couple games where we’ve done that, and our bottom has done a lot better, but we’ve got to execute better, one through ten.”
“We need to quit stressing out and have fun. Right now it’s like a chore, a job, and we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves, so we need to relax and play and live it up.”