LINDALE — Van head coach Craig Ham was just hoping Hallee Carter could do enough to drive in the tying run.
Carter did that and more, launching a two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Lady Vandals a 4-3 victory over Gladewater in Game 1 of their best-of-three Class 3A Region II quarterfinal series at Lindale Softball Field.
Van (26-5-1) can close out the series with a win Saturday. Game 2 is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Lindale Softball Field. If a third game is needed, it will begin 30 minutes after the completion of Game 2.
“I was just looking for a ball out there to score my run from second,” Ham said of Carter’s game-winning hit. “It got in the gap and we were able to (score two) and it was just a clutch hit.”
Carter finished 3 for 5 in the extra-inning contest with two doubles, a single, a run scored and two RBIs. Her first extra-base hit in the sixth enabled Van to tie the game, 2-2, on a sacrifice fly from Autumn McKinney.
Gladewater (32-5) began the bottom of the ninth three outs away from a 1-0 series lead after Morgan Bradford tripled and scored on a single by Victoria Barton.
Van’s Ashlin Lovett had struck out three times, but laced the first pitch she saw into right field for a single. Brittany Goode also had been held hitless before the ninth, but followed with a single up the middle to put runners at first and second with no outs.
Gladewater pitcher Katie Hickey responded to the trouble by inducing a fly ball to center and line out to right field, keeping both runners where they were with two outs.
Then Carter sent everyone from Van home happy.
“They just find a way to win,” Ham said. “They are good kids who play hard and don’t quit. That’s all you can ask for.”
Hickey took the complete-game loss, giving up four runs on 12 hits with no walks and six strikeouts. She stranded Lady Vandals at second base in the seventh and eighth innings.
Van’s Sierra Nichols also went the distance in a complete-game victory, allowing three runs — one of them earned — on nine hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Nichols got Van on the board in the first with an RBI triple that scored Chelsey Trejo, who had doubled.
Gladewater went in front 2-1 in the fourth, taking advantage of three Van throwing errors with Racheal Hitt and Kourtlin Hunter both coming home to score.
Class 3A Region II Quarterfinal
At Lindale Softball Field
Van 4, Gladewater 3 (9 innings)
(Van leads series 1-0)
Gladewater 000 200 001 — 3 9 0
Van 100 001 002 — 4 12 4
Katie Hickey and Melanie Stephens; Sierra Nichols and Jasmin Gipson. W – Nichols. L – Hickey. 2B – GW: Stephens; VAN: Hallee Carter (2), Chelsey Trejo, Kylee Moore. 3B – GW: Morgan Bradford; VAN: Nichols.
RECORDS — Gladewater 32-5; Van 26-5-1.
NEXT UP — Game 2: Van vs. Gladewater, 1 p.m. Saturday at Lindale Softball Field. Game 3 (if necessary): 30 minutes after completion of Game 2.