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Prosper tops Allen in pitcher’s duel, draws even in 5-6A title race



PROSPER, TX — From the first batter she faced to the last, Prosper senior Abbey Beasley was in control.

Even for a moment, when it looked as if Allen might wrest back control after plating a couple runs in the top of the seventh, Beasley restored order with a game-ending strikeout — her ninth of the contest — to polish off a 3-2 victory over Allen to draw even in the race for the District 5-6A title.

Prosper and Allen exited the penultimate night of their conference schedules gridlocked at 9-2 and a half-game behind Denton Guyer for the top spot in 5-6A. Whereas Guyer (10-2) concluded its campaign with a 16-0 shutout of Little Elm on Tuesday, Allen and Prosper still have one game remaining to earn a share of the league title.

“This district is a battle every single night. Some of the best pitching in the state goes through this district,” said Cathy Schoettle, Allen head coach. “If you have an inning with a couple errors, it’ll cost you.”

That margin for error unraveled Allen after three-and-a-half near-spotless defensive innings that yielded just one hit from each team.

The bottom of the fourth, however, was a different story.

Prosper senior Sydney Lewis led off the frame with a double before giving way to senior Reese Williams as a courtesy runner. Williams advanced to third base on a wild pitch and then a subsequent throwing error by Allen allowed the senior to find home plate for the night’s first run. On the following at-bat, Allen dropped a flyball hit by junior Gabby Coffey that fell just inside the warning track — she scored moments later during what amounted to Allen’s third error of the inning.

“That was really uncharacteristic of us. I don’t know if they let it affect them. It’s something we’ll talk about tomorrow,” Schoettle said. “We’ve talked about dealing with failure and how to bounce back, and we need to do a better job there immediately. It’s one thing if it’s just one error but we let that many get by then they’re going to put runs on the board.”

Senior Josey Dodgson upped the count to 3-0 after a groundout scored junior Ayden Allen.

“Having the energy that we had and getting base runners on was huge for us,” said Todd Rainwater, Prosper head coach. “As good as their pitcher is at keeping people off balance, we just tried to make good contact and put pressure on the defense. Just put the ball in play and good things will happen.”

That was easier said than done for both sides on Tuesday.

Beasley was locked in from the start, striking out two Allen batters in each of the first three innings. She went on to allow just two runs on four hits along with nine strikeouts and three walks. Her counterpart in red and navy blue, Allen senior Alexis Telford, was just as strong in surrendering just one earned run on three hits, plus nine strikeouts and one walk.

“She was outstanding. Allen’s a team that’s known for their hitting and she kept them off balance all night long,” Rainwater said of Beasley. “I’m really proud of her. The defense was there tonight as well, but she was on the gas all game.”

Allen at last struck in the top of the seventh behind back-to-back RBIs from freshman Celeste McCary and senior Chloe Schimmel to close the gap to 3-2 with one out. Beasley took care of the rest, inducing a flyout to shallow left field and then punching her ninth strikeout to seal the win.

Postgame celebrations were short-lived, however, with Beasley walking off the field touching her chest before heading to the dugout to be tended to by trainers and athletics staff. She was able to leave the field under her own power.

“She has palpitations in her heart sometimes and just felt something in her chest,” Rainwater said. “She was having a little trouble breathing so they’re just checking on her to make sure she’s alright. I don’t know if it was nerves or the cold weather, but she came off a little shaky so we just had to get her checked out.”

The win doubled as Prosper’s sixth straight since suffering a 7-1 defeat to Allen on March 26. A win Friday over McKinney Boyd would complete an unblemished run over the second half of district play and grant Prosper a share of the district title.

“They took matters into their own hands. They decided they didn’t like losing and have really picked up the energy and intensity in practice,” Rainwater said. “They were clay to be molded — ‘What do you want us to do? What do we have to do? We’ll do it.’ From the coaching staff to the players, they just took on the mindset that they don’t want to lose anymore.”

Allen can also wedge its way into that mix with a win at home 7 p.m. Friday against Denton Braswell — a victory that would mark the program’s first district title since 2004.

“The district championship would be great, but this year has been about the overall process of getting better, especially mentally, and carrying that into playoffs,” Schoettle said. “We’ve been talking about that since day one. Not winning a district championship isn’t the end of the season but it’s still a huge goal and something we’re aiming for.”

Wins on Friday by both Prosper and Allen would create a three-way tie for first place with Guyer. Should that pan out, the teams can settle playoff positioning through either a series of coin flips or through a mini-seeding tournament over the weekend. Under the tournament format, the teams would flip a coin to see who receives a bye. The other two would then play each other head-to-head with the winner then squaring off against the bye team for the district’s top seed.

“We all might see each other again,” Schoettle said. “It should make for some good softball, which would be great for the area and just girls athletics, in general. The competition is unreal. It’s good for our kids, the school and community, which makes it fun.”