AUSTIN -- The Lindsay Lady Knights’ worst nightmare came to life.
Lindsay’s Ranee Morrison pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing just four runs in the Lady Knights’ 16-4 loss to Shiner in a 1A state semifinal Thursday in Austin. She also had a hit and one of two RBIs at the plate. Gainesville Daily Register photo
After battling very few illegal pitch calls in the later rounds of the 1A playoffs, Lindsay pitcher Taylor Atkins’ was swarmed with 14 against her, throwing her off her rhythm and the rest of the Lady Knights in Thursday’s 1A state semifinal game with Shiner at McCombs Field.
Meanwhile, the Comanches delivered the knockout blow, ending Lindsay’s season with a 16-4 win in a mercy rule affair.
Atkins went just 1 1/3 innings for Lindsay, replacing her was Ranee Morrison who tossed the final 2 2/3 innings.
In her time on the mound, Atkins gave up eight runs, all earned and the trouble began with the first batter of the game.
With three balls against lead-off hitter and Shiner starting pitcher Ashley Shimek, an illegal pitch was called, giving Shimek first base.
An illegal pitch was called 14 times because Atkins’ back foot left the ground on her delivery, putting both of her feet in the air at once, resulting in a forfeited pitch for Atkins unless it went for a hit or was called a ball.
Heading into Thursday’s contest, Lindsay head coach Robin Hess was concerned this could be a problem for her team.
"I kind of expected it in a way, and kind of fought through it in the playoffs before we got here," she said.
"It was one of those things that I thought if we could get by that first or second pitch, even the first or second inning, I thought we would be OK with her illegal pitching. With them scoring however many runs it was on those illegal pitches, I had no choice but to put Ranee in there and let our defense just play defense, (and Ranee) did an awesome job."
Nine illegal pitches were called against Atkins in the first inning, but Shiner only was able to scrape away two runs.
Shimek scored the first run on an RBI groundout by Kristin Schacherl.
Amber Ramirez, who reached earlier on a bunt single, later scored advancing from third to home after an illegal pitch.
The struggles continued in the bottom of the second as five more pitches were determined illegal. As a result, the Comanches knocked Lindsay’s starter from the game with six more runs, taking an 8-0 lead.
"I think if Taylor could’ve dug a little bit deeper hole I think we would’ve been fine," said Hess, who added it was difficult for her pitcher to dig the hole because of the clay field. "(The hole) helps her come down more and drag her foot or push off a little bit farther where it doesn’t look like she’s leaping."
The frustration of the illegal pitches eventually led to poor defense by the Lady Knights, who committed seven errors.
"I think it threw us off because they were listening to our fans, listening to their fans and we talked about staying focused during the game," coach Hess added, but that’s all part of the game right there."
Morrison was tagged with just one earned run in the bottom of the second as Shiner led 9-0 after two.
Lindsay (32-12) showed a glimmer of hope in the top of the third, scoring three runs off of Shimek.
Kassidy Gum led off the inning with a walk and Alyx Ethington followed with a single to leftfield.
What looked to be a routine groundout off the bat of Morrison turned into an error as first baseman Jordan Pietsch couldn’t hold onto the throw, allowing Gum and Ethington to score and move Morrison to second.
Atkins brought home Morrison with an RBI single up the middle to cut the lead to 9-3.
Megan Caillier later walked to give Lindsay two runners on base, but the bottom of the order could not come through, leaving Shiner with a six-run lead.
Shimek stymied Lindsay’s offense after that, allowing just one hit in the final two innings while striking out three.
The Lady Knights final run came when Morrison doubled to right field to reach base. Another error by Shiner’s first baseman eventually allowed Morrison to score.
Shiner was led by Holly Haas who went 4-for-4 at the plate with 5 RBIs, including an 2-run triple in the third and a 2-run single in the fourth.
For Lindsay, Ethington, Morrison, Erin Copeland and Atkins had the lone four hits. Morrison and Atkins finished with an RBI each as well.
The Lady Knights, who lose Ethington and Bethani Eberhart to graduation, will have 12 players return to next year’s team, including six juniors.
"The seniors are awesome, coach Hess said. "Both of them are going to be missed, and their leadership. Both of those two know the game so well. It was just a great year, this just wasn’t our day."