Lady Hawks stymied by Pritchett, Cougarettes

CORPUS CHRISTI — The Harlingen South Lady Hawks may have made a name for themselves this season as a team that can rack up hits and runs, but they were unable to solve New Braunfels Canyon Cougarettes pitcher and Baylor commit Aliyah Pritchett.

Pritchett pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing one hit to go with eight strikeouts to lift the Cougarettes over the Lady Hawks 8-0 in Game 1 of a best-of-three Class 6A regional semifinal series Friday night at Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway.

Despite not coming through with the timely hits, the Lady Hawks had opportunities through walks and hit batsmen but left a total of seven runners stranded on the night.

“We’re not out there just playing against ourselves,” Harlingen South coach Elias Martinez said. “We’re playing against a really good team out there and their pitcher is a Baylor signee. She’s going there for a reason. We just have to answer the call (today). We had our opportunities, we didn’t execute, but (today’s) a brand new game. We have to come back strong (today) and give it all we’ve got.”

Game 2 is slated for 5 p.m. today at T-M, with Game 3 to played 30 minutes after if needed.

The Cougarettes were a model of consistency, scoring six runs across the first four innings on offense and playing sharp on defense, committing just one error on the night.

“I think our kids did a pretty good job being focused tonight and really took care of the things that they do,” New Braunfels Canyon coach Kevin Randle said. “Looking up scores, we knew (South) scored a lot of runs, so we knew we were going to have to be sharp offensively and defensively to try and match them. Aliyah did a great job in the circle tonight, and the defense did a great job behind her. We know that they are an explosive team, so we have to be on top of our game (today).”

South starting pitcher Kiley Ruiz was roughed up in her short time in the circle, giving up three runs on five hits before Iliana Saucedo came in to relieve her during the top of the third inning with two runners on and no outs.

Saucedo retired two straight batters before allowing a Kinley Nazier double, which scored the second and third runs of the inning and made it 5-0.

After a sacrifice fly from Pritchett gave Canyon a 6-0 lead during the top of the fourth, South picked up a little bit of momentum after Kytana Muniz reached on a fielder’s choice and Sauceda smacked the Lady Hawks’ first hit of the game.

Alexa Saucedo followed that by loading the bases after getting hit by a pitch, but Pritchett retired the next two batters to close out the inning.

Pritchett helped put the finishing touches on the shutout during the top of the seventh, smacking a 213-foot leadoff home run over the center field wall to make it 7-0. Andrea Gutierrez hit an RBI single to bring in another runner and make it 8-0.

At the plate, Pritchett was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

The runs didn’t come in bunches, which leaves Martinez hopeful for Game 2.

“Canyon got a run here and a run there. They didn’t get the big inning to blow everything open,” Martinez said. “We have to take care of business and do what we do.”