SGP's middle-infield bats knock out L.D. Bell

COLLEYVILLE, Texas -- South Grand Prairie took the deciding third game of a bi-district softball series against Hurst L.D. Bell, 8-4, Tuesday at Colleyville Heritage High School.

Most of the Warriors’ run production came from the middle infield on a four-RBI night by second baseman Whitney Ruyle and a solo home run by shortstop Meagan Michele.

The South Grand Prairie (28-8) and Flower Mound Marcus coaching staffs met immediately after the game to set up the area-round matchup. On three coin flips it was decided there would be a three-game series at Colleyville Heritage, Thursday-Saturday. All games will begin at 7:30 p.m.

“It feels great to be able to see the next games,” winning pitcher Shelby Alexander said.

Michele put the first run on the board in the top of the first when she crushed an Amanda Windham pitch over the left-center fence.

Bell scored twice in the bottom of the first and would lead until the third, when South Grand Prairie tacked on three runs for a 4-2 lead.

The rally began with catcher Jordan Burke driving in Kat Strunk on a single to center. Ruyle stepped in and drilled a shot off the left-center fence that resulted in a run-scoring single. Victoria Gonzales drove in the last of the inning on a single to left center.

The same part of the lineup produced again in the fourth inning, with Burke's single to center scoring Alexander. Ruyle then hit the same pitch to the same spot off the wall on her next at-bat, this time resulting in a two-run double and a 7-2 lead.

Ruyle added her fourth RBI in the sixth as she knocked a single through a hole in the right side of the infield, scoring Alexander again. Ruyle battled through a two-strike count, fouling off several pitches, before finding the one she would put into play.

Royle, a senior committed to Navarro Junior College, had only a handful of RBIs in her junior year, but she said she found her stroke through repetition and lessons in the summer.

“She had a really good summer last year,” Warriors coach Jonathan Rogers said. “She signed with Navarro and then had a lot of confidence at the plate. She went from having four RBIs last year to over 30 now. She’s had that kind of year all year long where she hits the ball in the gaps and doesn’t miss those opportunities when they throw the ball in the strike zone.”

Bell was able to hit Alexander, but the sophomore pitcher was able to get out of three jams with runners in scoring position, including in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.

“I love the pressure and our team loves the pressure,” Alexander said. “Pressure situations are our strength.”

Bell put a little more pressure on in the bottom of the sixth, cutting the deficit to 8-4 on a two-run Taylor Brown single that deflected off a diving Gonzales’ glove at third.

After low-scoring affairs in the first two games of the series (2-1 for SGP and 2-0 for Bell), Rogers said his team was was more selective at the plate in Game 3.

“I think the main thing is that we hit strikes," he said. "The first two games we were swinging at things outside the strike zone. It doesn’t matter how good of hitters you have … if you swing at balls outside the strike zone, you’re not going to have a lot of success.”