HOUSTON — A wet and cold spring forced a lot of postponements for area teams, including both of Houston and Jackson Center’s Shelby County Athletic League matchups.
The two squads scheduled make-up contests for Monday and Wednesday — and then paired up for a Div. IV sectional opener on Tuesday in the tournament draw.
After getting 17 hits and earning a home run-rule win over Jackson Center on Monday in SCAL play, the Wildcats kept their hot hitting up in postseason action on Tuesday.
The Wildcats scored four runs in the third inning and eight in the fourth to run away to a 15-2 win over Jackson Center. Houston, the No. 12 seed in the Sidney Div. IV sectional, advances to face No. 1 Newton in a second-round game on Thursday.
Houston (10-10, 7-4 SCAL) had 13 hits and took advantage of five errors by Jackson Center to run away to Tuesday’s big win. The Wildcats won Monday’s matchup 12-2.
“We’ve picked up our hitting the last week or so,” Houston coach Brent New said. “Hopefully that will continue here as the season comes to an end. It’s an up-and-down road — this team is like a roller coaster. But we’re hitting the ball finally.”
Houston led 3-2 heading into the bottom of the third. Sarah Monnier and Olivia Bowser hit singles to start the inning, and the Wildcats quickly got to work. Jess Monnier had a one-run single, and Houston was able to score three more runs thanks to two fielding errors by Jackson Center.
“Too many errors,” Jackson Center coach Janice Davidson said. “We played well through the first three innings, but we made a couple of mistakes and just let it snowball from there. …You’ve got to make every play you’ve got the opportunity to make.”
The Wildcats scored eight more to put the game away in the fourth. Sarah Monnier had two doubles in the inning, Judith Gillem had a single, Allisen Foster had a double and Rebekah New had a single. The Tigers had two errors in the fourth.
“It takes so much pressure off your pitcher when you can hit and take advantage (of errors),” New said. “You don’t have to make every single pitch. If your defense makes an error, it’s not that huge because we’re hitting the ball.”
Davidson said she’s proud of the progress the team has made this season. The Tigers are 3-15, and Davidson said their potential was shown by playing Houston close through the first two innings.
Now, she says the goal is work on consistency.
“We’ve got four freshman starting, and they’ve got a lot of experience this year,” Davidson said. “We’re swinging the bat well and have put runs on the board. Now we’ve just got to work a little bit on defense… We’ve got some good kids coming back and should challenge people a little bit better next year.”
Houston will try to sweep the three-game series on Wednesday and will then travel to Newton (16-8) for a sectional semifinal on Thursday.
“I know Newton always has a good team and is one of the better ones in this area,” New said. “They won’t make mistakes. We’ll have to go in there and play our best game of the year to have a chance. I think we can. I think if we play to our potential, we can certainly be right there. We can’t give them any extra outs or anything.”
Kenleigh Fortner hit a double with two outs in the first off Houston pitcher Emilee Foster and Connor Pipke followed with an RBI single to give Jackson Center a 1-0 lead. The Wildcats tied it 1-1 in the bottom half after Sarah Monnier reached on an error, but the Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the second after an RBI single by Bryanna Davis.
Foster allowed three hits over the last three innings.
“Emilee’s hip was bothering her, and after she got it stretched out, she was able to make some better pitchers,” New said. “She came through for us.”
Fortner finished with two doubles for Jackson Center. The Tigers had seven hits.
Sarah Monnier was 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs while Rebekah New was 3 for 4 with 1 RBI. Both Monnier and New had two doubles. Allisen Foster and Jess Monnier each had two hits for Houston. Foster had a double.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.