Last season, Birdville pitcher Susan Welborn basked in the glow of dominant performances in the circle and at the plate.
Her junior year efforts earned her recognition as the 2012 Star-Telegram Super Team Player of the Year.
Following that kind of performance with a similar senior season proved difficult.
“A lot of teams and players have made the adjustment to how she pitches and they’ve improved as players also,” Birdville coach John Love said. “We’ve been very pleased though with how Susan has developed further this year and I personally haven’t seen any drop-off.”
Welborn, headed to Texas Tech next season, has overcome a shoulder injury on top of facing improved competition.
Although Welborn’s numbers weren’t near as dominant in the regular season, she continues to deliver in the clutch. She won 20 games in the 2012 regular season, but didn’t reach that number this season until last week.
Welborn’s homer Saturday in Game 3, coupled with a one-hitter, lifted the Hawks (22-10) to the Class 4A regional quarterfinals where they will face Trophy Club Nelson in a best-of-three series that starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Birdville.
Bad weather helped get in the way of a series opening loss to Joshua last week.
Welborn was lifted in Game 1 in favor of reliever Kathleen Murphy, both for matchup purposes and the fact that Welborn couldn’t feel the ball in the second inning as temperatures dipped.
Welborn did come back into the game and held Joshua scoreless, but the damage had already been done. Still, she bounced back to keep Joshua off-balance on Saturday.
For the season, she has a 20-6 record, 1.98 ERA, .402 batting average and 15 extra-base hits.
“There’s not another hitter in the area that I would want in the pressure situations she’s been in,” Love said.
Trophy Club Nelson (28-8) edged Burleson twice by identical 7-6 scores to set up the regional showdown with Birdville.
Pitcher Ashley Dumoulin improved to 26-8, mixing things up to close the series.
It was solving the mystery of the middle of Burleson’s lineup, which went 5 for 7 with two doubles and two runs scored in Game 1, that made the biggest difference.
Those same spots were 1 for 8 on Saturday with a strikeout.
“Holding them up on Saturday was key because it took away a dynamic from their offense that was working,” Nelson coach Kathy Schoettle said. “Ashley was really solid at the plate for us and came up with a big hit to start us off late in Game 2.”
Dumoulin’s triple started a three-run rally that ultimately put the Elks away.
Emily Wood, Aubree Spasic, Haley Gray and Kenedi Jackson had four straight singles to score the final two runs of the inning.
Hot bat continues
Burleson Centennial’s Madison Montgomery tore through Wichita Falls Rider pitching last week, going 5 for 6 with three runs, a double and three RBIs as the Spartans advanced to meet Aledo.
Montgomery has scorched pitchers this season, hitting .596 with an on-base percentage of .634. She’s scored 52 runs and driven in 52.
Ashlee Gibson and Sydney Cox are the 1-2 punch in the circle for a squad that is 27-8 on the season.
Northwest on empty
After Northwest’s strong 9-3 win over Midland on Friday, the Bulldogs came back to beat the Texans in back-to-back games Saturday.
“I feel like we’ve been in the playoffs for a month already,” coach Tanya Morrow said. “With all the work we had to do just to get into the playoffs and as aggressive as we stayed throughout, I really can’t complain.”
Northwest had to defeat Keller Central in the final district game just to force a play-in game with Keller Timber Creek.
A win there set up a bi-district showdown with District 3-5A champion Weatherford, a team Northwest had already lost to in the regular season. The Texans finished 19-18 overall.
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