WHITEHOUSE — With a five-run lead and just two outs remaining the Henderson Lady Lions might have thought they had a Class 3A Region II quarterfinal victory in the bag.
The Gladewater Lady Bears had something else in mind.
Battling back to trail by one, Gladewater sacrificed an out but loaded the bases as one of the team’s best go-to hitters came to the plate.
And then the game was over as Lady Bears runner Katy Stephens got caught off third base and was tagged out to give Henderson the 6-5 win.
It was a dramatic ending to about 20 minutes of intense play Saturday in a softball playoff game suspended in the seventh inning the night before due to lightning and rain.
“It was a big sigh of relief,” Henderson coach Julie Murry said of the conclusion. “We knew we needed to play good defense today, which we really didn’t do … so it was just a relief.”
The Lady Lions (25-7) advance to the regional semifinal to play Celina, with Game 1 of the best-of-three series to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in Grand Saline. Gladewater, which upset Lindale to reach the quarterfinal, ended the season 23-8.
Lady Bears coach Kelly Stuckey said her players were prepared to fight to the end.
“I told them, ‘Don’t get on the bus if you don’t believe it (win) could be done,’” she said. “They all got on the bus.”
About 40 fans returned to the stands Saturday at the Whitehouse softball field to see the conclusion of the game that stopped Friday night with Gladewater runners on first and third and only one out.
Centerfielder Alyssa Jalomo returned to the plate and promptly hit a single to the shortstop, who bobbled the ball to leave the batter safe at first and bringing Brooklyn Davis in from third to score.
Victoria Barton then whacked a triple to right field scoring teammates Keambria Hunter and Jalomo. Katy Stephens then stepped up to the plate and advanced to first after taking a hit to the helmet on a pitch from Henderson’s Tiarra Davis.
Catcher Melanie Stephens then took a turn at bat, hitting a single over the second baseman. That allowed Barton to score and put Katy Stephens, who had stolen second base, in scoring position.
Gladewater loaded the bases after Rachael Hitt was thrown out at first for the second out and Tiarra Davis walked Sarah Hunger.
Katy Stephens kept the Lady Lions on their toes, taking ambitious leads off of third. She barely made it back to base on the first attempted pick, but got caught on a second attempt as Brooklyn Davis began her turn at bat.