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Crawford advances to third straight state championship game

Crawford Softball
Posted at 7:23 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 23:40:38-04

AUSTIN, Texas — With the bases loaded and no one out in the top of the sixth inning, the Crawford Lady Pirates never flinched.

Despite being on Texas high school softball's biggest stage in the UIL State Tournament at Red and Charlie McCombs Field, Crawford bore down, maintained its focus and clung to a 1-0 lead long enough to advance to their third straight state championship game.

"I think [our experience in the tournament] was huge their in the sixth inning," Crawford Head Coach Kirk Allen said. "Our kids didn't blink an eye, every single one of 'em. You could see every one of em was confident. They knew we could get out of it. We could tell the experience played into it."

Both pitchers controlled the game through the first three innings, and the game went into the fourth tied at zero.

After Crawford's Kenzie Jones threw a scoreless frame at the top of the inning, the Lady Pirates finally broke open the scoring in the bottom half. Senior first baseman Kylie Ray opened the inning with a double into deep left field. After Jones moved Ray to third with a bunt and Taylor Gholke popped out on the infield, catcher Haley Holmes laced an RBI-single into center field to make the score 1-0.

Crawford would not score again.

Weimar pitcher Reagan Wick struck out seven Crawford batters over six innings. 62 of Wick's 88 pitches were strikes.

For her part, Jones cruised into the sixth inning without allowing a run. However, she quickly found herself in a jam.

Jones allowed a pair of walks to start the inning. Then, Savannah Pogue bobbled a ground ball at short stop, loading the bases with no one out.

Then, Jones took over.

She struck out the next batter and forced back-to-back pop ups to end the inning. The final pop up came right back to her in the circle.

"That was exciting. That was really fun. Those moments are the reason I play the game," Jones said.

In the seventh, Weimar would get two runners on, but they could not push them across the plate.

Jones finished the game with four strikeouts. She only gave up two hits in a shutout effort.

With the win, Crawford returns to the state championship game for the third straight tournament. The Lady Pirates won a title in 2019. In 2020, their season was cut short due to COVID-19, and in 2021, they lost to Stamford in the title game.

Crawford will take on either Stamford or Lovelady in the championship game Wednesday night at 7 p.m.