By Colin Bado, TSB Staff
It’s hard to believe softball season is winding down as the McKinney North Lady Bulldogs celebrated Senior Night in front of their endearing fans cheering at the top of their lungs.
The three lone seniors Taylor McAllister, Faith Dixon, and Chandler Johnson could not have asked for a better night against District 13-4A foe Wylie East.
On the coattails of pitcher Celeste Verdolivo, North run-ruled the Lady Raiders 10-0 in six innings. Not only did she pitch a shutout, but Verdolivo threw her first no-hitter as a high school pitcher. North improved to 11-2 in 13-4A with the win.
North got off to an early start in the bottom of the first as lead off hitter Jordan McCraw scored on a passed ball. With runners on second and third, North was hoping to stretch its lead, but a fly out by Verdolivo left the two runners stranded.
“We scored in the first inning tonight,” said North head coach Dan Sedgwick. Scoring early has been a struggle for the Lady Dawgs throughout the 2013 season, but the girls’ resiliency has enabled them to be successful.
Three up and three down was the theme for the Lady Bulldogs, as they took the field. Committing two errors on the night was their only shortcoming, but thanks to an over the shoulder catch by shortstop Miley Coxwell, allowed Verdolivo to keep her no-hit bid intact.
A slew of errors by the Lady Raiders helped extend North’s lead. In the bottom of the second, McCraw hit a line drive towards second baseman Natalie Castillo. Castillo was unable to get a glove on the ball and booted it into center field. Her error brought in Smilley Cromwell and Bailey Florence to score. As the defense attempted to deter two runs from scoring, McCraw worked her way to third base before Wylie East could make a play.
With a lead off batter on third, North’s Alli Lindsey put down a perfectly executed squeeze bunt. McCraw slid safely into home and Lindsey ran safely to first. North led Wylie East 4-0 after two innings.
The Lady Raiders’ woes continued into the fifth inning as powerhouse hitter Taylor McAllister led off with a stand up triple. Capitalizing on a runner in scoring position, Chandler Johnson struck a single to left field bringing in McAllister.
After governing from the mound, Verdolivo exemplified her skill at the plate with a standup double, advancing Johnson to third. Ashleigh Awl-born’s double brought in two runs, and Wylie East pitcher, Aryn Smith began to slump down in defeat.
In the top of the sixth, the Lady Raiders tried to conjure up a rally by pinch-hitting Brooke Vincent. Verdolivo wasn’t fazed and struck out Vincent in four pitches.
Back-to-back-to-back doubles by Briana Williams, Alli Lindsey, and Taylor McAllister closed out the game for North. With 10 runs and 12 hits, North decisively defeated Wylie East on an significant night for the seniors.
“We wanted to win, but enjoy it and have fun too,” said Sedgwick. “This week we want the girls to have fun. We want to have fun practice with emotion.”
With one game left in 13-4A play, Sedgwick wants to win against Denison even though the match has no influence on the final standings. Lovejoy wrapped up the district title after winning its 13th district game on Tuesday night.
Playoffs are just around the corner but due to TAKS testing, postseason softball will not play for a week following Friday’s regular season finale.
“We’ll have different practices to keep the girls focused and having fun,” said Sedgwick.
The Lady Bulldogs’ final district game will be played at Denison on Friday night, beginning at 7 p.m.