Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Tradition not enough: Celina softball eliminated by Van in regional semifinals
FORNEY — Celina called on its rich softball tradition to reach the regional semifinals for the seventh time in nine seasons, but Van proved too tough for the Lady Bobcats in the fourth playoff round. Van put together three four-run innings for a 12-2 victory in the decisive third game of the Class 3A Region II semifinal series Saturday evening at Jackrabbit Stadium.
Van advances to the regional final to meet the Sanger-Atlanta winner.
Catcher Alexis Elizondo staked Celina (26-17) to a quick lead with a two-run homer over the right field fence in the top of the first.
Van (28-5-1) took control with four runs in each of the first two innings off Celina starter Halie Knowles to build an 8-2 lead. Three of the Lady Vandals’ runs in the first inning were unearned. Knowles, a sophomore, was the star in Friday’s 4-3 victory that forced a third game after Van’s decisive 17-0 win in Game 1. Regular Celina pitcher Lauren Schultz, who pitched the final 2.2 innings in Game 3, has been troubled with a back injury.
“I’m really proud of these girls because of the way they came back from that 17-0 loss,’’ said Celina coach Billy Coleman. “We fought all the way. Our tradition was a big help. We were young this year and only lose three seniors.’’
In addition to holding Celina scoreless in the final four innings, winning pitcher Nicole Gandy had three hits and drove in four runs including the one that invoked the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth. Gandy tied the game in the first for Van with a two-run double and a two-run single by Sierra Nichols put Van in front for good.
Hallee Carter, who had three hits, made it 5-2 with an RBI single in the second inning. A fielder’s choice grounder by Gandy, a sacrifice fly by Haleigh Moore and an RBI single by Autumn McKinney accounted for Van’s other second-inning runs.
All four of Van’s runs in the fifth came with two out.
Second baseman Courtney Todd had two of Celina’s six hits, scoring ahead of Elizondo’s home run and doubling in the fifth.