Aledo scored two runs in each of the second and third innings and freshman pitcher Kayleigh Smith retired five of the last six batters she faced as the Ladycats held off El Paso Eastlake, 5-3, today at Cleburne High School to win Game 3 of the best-of-3 area softball championship series.
The Ladycats will advance to the regional quarterfinals (third round) and face state-ranked No. 5 El Paso Chapin (33-4). Series structure, dates and start times have yet to be announced.
“All of us were super hyped even though we were a little tired from Prom last night,” senior center fielder Heidi Fischer said. “We knew we had to pick each other up and stay focused, and that’s what we did.
“We came back in the second game (Fischer had a walk-off home run to win Game 2 which followed a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh by Macy Graf on Thursday) and when we did that we knew if we played our game (today) that we could take the series.”
Eastlake had won the opener, 11-2, but the Ladycats came back the same day (Thursday) to take Game 2, 4-3 to force today’s third and deciding game.
Senior Jessi Kubosh ripped a two-run triple in the bottom of the second inning to give the Ladycats a 2-1 lead – a lead they would not relinquish.
Aledo added two more runs in the third frame to take a 4-1 lead. Fischer led off with a walk and scored when the next batter, Marissa Powell, hit a double to drive in Fischer as Powell advance to third base on the throw to the plate.
Powell scored later on a wild pitch as Aledo led 4-1 after three innings.
Eastlake came back with a run in the sixth inning and had the bases loaded with one out. The Falcons cut the lead to 4-3 on a sacrifice fly out to center field, but Smith struck out the next batter and forced a ground out to the following batter to get out of the inning.
The Ladycats got one of the runs back in the bottom of the sixth. Freshman Madysen Boutwell was hit by a pitch, and she was replaced on first base by pinch runner Callie Todd. Audrey Pearce advanced Todd to second base after a sacrifice bunt.
Later in the frame – with two outs – freshman shortstop Macy Graf was walked to load the bases. The next batter, Fischer, also walked which forced Todd home as Aledo increased its lead to 5-3.
In the seventh, Smith retired three of four batters to secure the win and the playoff series.
“Heidi and Macy’s home runs (Thursday) were huge and gave us the confidence today that we could take this game and the series,” Ladycats head coach Heather Myers said. “One thing we do well is work together as a team, and the old comment that ‘hits are contagious’ is true and rang true with us.”
Myers said after talking with Smith in the circle in the sixth inning that she decided to leave her starting pitcher in the game despite having just a two-run lead with the bases loaded and no outs.
“I went out to talk to Kayleigh (Smith) in the sixth and she said she felt fine so I kept her in,” Myers said. “She got it done and we are moving to the next round. Our girls proved that a series is never over until it is actually over, and this will help our confidence as we continue in the playoffs.”
Lubbock Monterey 5, Bearcats 2
Lubbock Monterey scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning and held off a late Aledo rally as the Plainsmen defeated the Bearcats, 5-2, today in Game 2 at Cleburne High School to take the best-of-3 bi-district playoff series two games to none.
The Bearcats finish with an overall record of 23-8.
Monterey had taken the series opener, 4-3, Thursday in Lubbock.
The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead when Garrison Berkley drove in Dylan Mach with a base hit in the opening frame. Aledo starting pitcher Jaden Ard kept the Plainsmen scoreless for the first four innings before Monterey tied the score with a run in the fifth.
Monterey scored four runs in the sixth inning to take a 5-1 lead. The Bearcats scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 5-2 but did not score again as Monterey held on to win the game and the series.