By Colin Bado, TSB Sports Writer
After a 9-0 loss in game one at Sulphur Springs on Friday night, the McKinney North Lady Bulldogs were hoping to rebound and even up the UIL Softball bi-district series at one game apiece.
Despite North’s best efforts, Sulphur Springs faltered the Lady Bulldogs’ playoff hopes and won game two 5-3, sweeping the best-of-three series 2-0. As the Lady Wildcats celebrated with pictures, tears ran down the Lady Bulldogs’ cheeks as they sat in the outfield one last time. The three lone seniors remained standing as North head coach Dan Sedgwick consoled his team.
For the fifth year in a row, McKinney North endured a disappointing exit from the playoffs after getting knocked-out in the Bi-district round.
“We have a bright future ahead of us,” said Sedgwick. “We have a lot of young players, and we’ve learned a lot this year. We will get better, Celeste (Verdolivo) will get better.”
Down 5-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Bulldogs’ season was on the line. North’s first two batters went down on a strikeout and a fly out. With one out remaining in their season, Alli Lindsey stepped into the box and popped a ball up into shallow left, for what appeared to be a routine fly ball. Instead, Sulphur Springs shortstop Kaylee Anderson dropped it and gave the Lady Bulldogs a second life.
With a runner on first, North’s hopes were kept alive. Lady Wildcats’ pitcher Hailey Dixon would go onto walking the next two batters, loading the bases for the third time in the game with two outs. With Verdolivo stepping to the plate and the crowd standing with extreme anxiety, the sophomore lined one for a 2-RBI base hit, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
Unfortunately for the blue and orange, Dixon would strike out the final batter and finish the complete game victory, officially eliminating the Lady Bulldogs from the playoffs.
After defeating Wylie East 10-0 on the back of star sophomore pitcher Celeste Verdolivo on senior night, the Lady Bulldogs struggled to recapture their momentum.
Even though Verdolivo is ranked amongst the best pitchers in the area, her woes began early as she fell behind in the count to the Lady Wildcat hitters. After a heartbreaking start, Verdolivo left the mound after pitching six and a third innings, allowing four runs. Smiley Coxwell came in from shortstop to close out the game in the circle.
“They have talented hitters,” said Sedgwick. “We wanted to keep the ball low on them.”
North finished 16-6 overall and second in District 13-4A, behind district champion Lovejoy.