Kate Hale’s two-out RBI single in the third inning was the only run needed Friday as Mansfield overcame a 15-strikeout performance from Temple pitcher Lexi Smith for a 1-0 victory in a Class 5A bi-district playoff game at Mansfield High School.
Tigers ace Casey Waterman pitched the shutout for Mansfield (24-4), limiting the Wildcats (15-16) to five hits while striking out six.
She also got help twice from left fielder Payton Simpkins, who made two run-saving catches.
Smith recorded 309 strikeouts in the regular season, and finishes her high school career with 1,054. But the Tigers managed to score the game’s only run in the bottom of the third.
Bailee Baldwin roped a one-out double to get into scoring position. Two batters later, Hale hit a ball that dropped just in front home plate, but the play took long enough to develop that she was able to beat an errant throw to first base. All the while, Baldwin was sprinting toward home plate for the 1-0 lead.
Temple threatened in its half of the fifth. Tori Porubsky led off with a bloop single to right field. The Tigers then retired the next two batters before Marissa Sencalar was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second.
Smith drove a ball to deep left field that would have scored at least one run, but a retreating Simpkins made a falling catch to end the inning and the Wildcats’ threat.
Simpkins made another potentially run-saving catch in the sixth with a runner at first base and one out. Kimberlyn Longbotham hit a drive that Simpkins caught over her head at full extension.
“You don’t really think when you make those catches,” Simpkins said. “It’s just kind of a go-for-it thing.”
Waterman closed the door in the seventh without drama, retiring all three batters she faced.