Former Hudson Lady Hornet, Payton Foster throws a no-hitter for UT Tyler in Commerce on Saturday

Local Sports

COMMERCE, Texas — Payton Foster’s first career no-hitter in a 1-0 victory clinched at least a share of the 2021 Lone Star Conference Softball Championship for UT Tyler, and the No. 3-ranked Patriots’ 8-3 win in the nightcap completed a doubleheader sweep over No. 9-ranked Texas A&M-Commerce to secure the program’s first LSC softball title.
 
With the sweep, UT Tyler improved to 33-5 overall and 27-1 in the Lone Star Conference, while Texas A&M-Commerce fell to 25-14 overall and 18-8 in the LSC. The Patriots now hold a 3-game margin with 2 games to play over second-place Oklahoma Christian, which is ranked 6th nationally and will host UT Tyler on Tuesday, May 4, to wrap up the Patriots’ 2021 championship campaign.
 
The softball championship is the first LSC women’s team championship for UT Tyler, which also claimed the men’s tennis team championship earlier this spring after Summer Grubbs claimed the Patriots’ first individual LSC titles with her performance at the indoor track & field championships in February.
 
Payton Foster recorded 7 strikeouts and delivered exactly the type of pitching performance UT Tyler needed in a one-run ballgame, as A&M-Commerce starting pitcher Emily Otto held the Patriot offense scoreless until the sixth inning.
 
With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, Avery Farr’s hard grounder up the middle deflected off the glove of Otto to shortstop Chealsea Slider, whose only play was a throw from her knees to first base for the second out of the inning while Hanna Fradkin scored the go-ahead run from third base.
 
Foster took care of the rest, retiring the Lions in order in the sixth and working around a leadoff walk in the seventh with a strikeout, fly out, and another strikeout to finish off the 1-0 win. Foster walked 2 batters in her second shutout of the season.
 
In the second game, the Patriots jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth inning before Texas A&M-Commerce scored its only runs of the day with a 3-run fourth that cut the lead to 6-3. Shelby Hughston opened the scoring with a second-inning sacrifice fly, and Bayli Simon added a run-scoring groundout in the third to extend the lead to 2-0. Mak Dominguez provided a clutch 2-run double with 2 outs in the third to push the lead to 4-0, and UT Tyler added 2 more in the top of the fourth to take a 6-0 advantage.
 
Erin Hill started the game with 3 scoreless frames, but she ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth after Ta’Lyn Moody cleared the bases with a 3-run double with no outs. Sarah Gartman came into the circle in relief, retiring the next 3 Lions on a pair of strikeouts and a popup, and she retired the first 7 batters she faced and 12 of 13 total in 4 innings of 1-hit shutout relief.
 
UT Tyler loaded the bases again in the fifth, and Shelby Hughston provided a run-scoring single before Courtney Plocheck was hit by pitch to score another for the final 8-3 margin.
 
Dominguez went 2-for-4 in the second game, and both she and Hughston provided 2 RBIs to lead the Patriots offensively.

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