Lady Oilers sweep No. 1 Deer Park from playoffs

PEARLAND — It's not how you begin, but how you finish that matters.

Pearland faced Deer Park on February 27 in the Haynie Strike Out Cancer Tournament and lost to the Lady Deer 8-0.

The Lady Oilers (27-5-1) took on Deer Park (33-4) on May 12 and 13 in the Class 6A Region III Quarterfinals and swept the No. 1 state-ranked and No. 4 nationally-ranked Lady Deer 3-1 and 3-2 sending Pearland to the region semifinals.

"It's a great feeling," Pearland coach Laneigh Clark said. “I’m just really proud of the girls. They’ve been focused all year, and they were focused on what they wanted to do in this series.

“Our pitchers did a great job, making them chase after some pitches. It’s a huge accomplishment for these kids."

Pearland All-State pitcher Alyssa Denham took the pitching circle against Deer Park All-State ace Peyton McBride.

McBride pitched the Lady Deer to the 5A state title in 2012 as a sophomore and she was also named Player of the Year by the Texas Sports Writers Association. She was named to the All-State team her freshman season as well. Deer Park won the state championship also in 2014.

Pearland went to the state softball tournament in 2009, 2010, and 2011. They brought the state trophy home in 2010.

Both teams have been state powers for awhile and have been dominate in Region III which made this series even more meaningful.

The Lady Oilers jumped on Deer Park early, scoring two runs in the second and forcing McBride out of the circle.

Lindsey Stewart singled, took second on an error and scored on a wild pitch by McBride to start the inning. Aileen Garcia singled and scored on a hit by Kaylee Hoppens for a 2-0 advantage.

"Any time you can score any runs against them (it's huge)," Clark said. "That puts a little cushion on things and you have the opportunity to relax a little."

McBride then hit No. 9 batter Madison Clements, prompting Deer Park coach Carrie Austgen to pull her for junior Maddie Nelson.

While Nelson did her job in shutting Pearland down, Denham was doing her job in keeping the potent Deer Park offense off-balance.

"Our pitchers did a great job of keeping them off-balance, didn't throw many strikes and made them chase after some pitches, because they are a very good hitting team," Clark said.

The Oilers' ace, who snapped Deer Park's 18-game winning streak 3-1 in the first game, retired the first nine batters in order.

The Oilers added an insurance run in the fifth.

Walls reached on a dropped pop-up by catcher Ash Wade, stole third and scored on a single by Lindsey Stewart, who went 4-for-4 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored to make it 3-0.

But the Lady Deer weren't going away without creating a little end of game drama.

KK Morado got their first hit in the fifth, an infield single to short, and McKayla Chamberlain, the No. 9 batter, brought her home with a single, cutting Pearland's advantage to 3-1.

Then Taylor McHenry led the sixth with a towering home run over the centerfield wall for a 3-2 score.

Clark took out Denham and brought in sophomore Adrianna Chavarria who came in and retired all five batters she faced to seal the win and give Pearland the series sweep. vIn the first game, Alyssa Denham got the win for the Lady Oilers. She allowed one run over seven innings. She struck out two, walked four and surrendered five hits.

Pearland scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth and used that cushion to get the 3-1 win.

The Lady Deer scored a run in the top of the sixth and then the Lady O's defense stiffened to save the win.

Pearland moves on to the 6A Region III semifinals against Katy Seven Lakes.

Game 1 will be on Thursday, May 19 at 6:00 p.m. Game 2 will be on Friday, May 20 at 6:00 p.m. with Game 3 (if needed) to follow 30 minutes later. All games at Sweeny High School.