Italy advances to region softball finals
Series against Crawford for state berth starts Wednesday in Whitney
WEATHERFORD — The Class 2A No. 3-ranked Italy Lady Gladiators are on the doorstep of their first-ever University Interscholastic League state softball semifinal appearance.
In order to get there, they’ll have to clear a major roadblock that numerous North and Central Texas teams haven’t been able to overcome over the years.
The Lady Gladiators made it look easy on Saturday afternoon at Weatherford High School as they routed Petrolia a second time, 10-1, to sweep their 2A Region II semifinal series at Weatherford High School.
Italy (36-2) will take on Region II juggernaut Crawford in a series starting Wednesday. Crawford has won three state titles, most recently in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports in 2020.
Italy last played the Lady Pirates in the playoffs in 2011 and 2012, falling in two in the region quarterfinals each time. The Lady Gladiators are in their 10th straight softball playoff but have never advanced this far before.
In Saturday’s outing, Petrolia (26-8) offered little resistance against Italy starting pitcher Emily Janek, who struck out 11 Petrolia batters and allowed five singles. The Lady Pirates averted a shutout with a single run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Ella Hudson finished 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored, while Cadence Hopgood was 3-for-4 with a walk, a double, and leadoff batter Keri Scott was 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI for the Lady Gladiators.
After a scoreless first three innings, Italy finally broke through for three runs in the top of the fourth as Kinley Cate scored on a Danaisia McCowan groundout and Scott followed with a two-run double.
In the fifth, courtesy runner Courtney Saich scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0; then the Lady Gladiators broke the game wide open in the sixth, scoring five times with Macey Cooper’s two-RBI single the biggest blow. Hudson’s infield single in the seventh completed the scoring.
The Lady Gladiators will return to Whitney High School for the first two games of their series against Crawford. Game 1 will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, with Game 2 following at 6 p.m. on Thursday. If a third game is needed, it would take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday in West. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students.