Walk-off HR in 11th inning puts Celina in 3A softball final

AUSTIN — Shelby Carter’s game, and the realization of many a hitter’s ambition, ended with her posing just outside the field with family and friends next to a sign that read “Bombs Away Carter.”

How she got to that point — a walk-off home run in the 11th inning in a 4-3 victory for her Celina team against Huntington in a Class 3A softball state semifinal — was more complicated.

Before all the late-game heroics Friday, Huntington pitcher Erica Wright had foiled Celina. Since a three-run third inning, she allowed only one base runner until Carter stepped to the plate in the 11th.

“We were beyond fed up,” said Carter, a junior shortstop.

When the 11th started, right fielder Claudia Cantu announced the slump would end. She fouled out.

Up came Carter. Like Celina, she had struggled besides that third inning. She was 0-for-4 so far on the day, with two strikeouts. It wasn’t a standard performance for a girl who had hit .643 in the playoffs.

And then she fouled a pop-up behind the plate. Her at-bat could have ended.

But Huntington didn’t make the play. Carter had another opportunity, though she would have to wait.

Huntington first baseman Kelsie Batten had cut herself diving on the play. A delay ensued for a few minutes.

“I knew the girl was going to throw a fat one,” Carter said, “so I knew I had to be ready after that.”

Carter hit Wright’s next pitch over the left-field fence. Several times, she had hit in a similar scenario but couldn’t recall doing anything better than singles.

This was a home run, a walk-off, the best she could imagine.

“That’s my dream hit,” she said.

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