The game lost a little luster, but its importance remains.
Looking to earn its first district championship since 2010, Lampasas’ hopes took a hit Friday evening, when Brownwood produced an upset on the road, beating the No. 5 Lady Badgers 9-6.
The loss drops Lampasas into a precarious position as it travels to Liberty Hill tonight to play the defending District 3A champions and fourth-ranked Lady Panthers.
Coming off a disappointing performance, Lady Badgers head coach Cassie Crabtree knows her team must deliver tonight in the showdown of top-5 teams, especially on defense, to stay in the thick of the district title race.
“Our philosophy is if we can keep the opposing team under five runs, we will win,” she said. “We are an offensive team. We can hit the ball, and we can come back if we fall behind. So our goal defensively is to hold them to five runs or less.”
Lampasas (18-3, 2-1) had no such luck against the Lady Lions, allowing six runs in the second inning alone.
After throwing out the first three batters of the game, the Lady Badgers’ defense fell apart against Brownwood as the Lady Lions produced five hits, including two for extra bases. Additionally, Lampasas committed a costly error, allowing a run to cross home plate.
Making matters worse, freshman pitcher Sienna Lawson struggled on the mound in the inning, walking two Lady Lions —once with the bases loaded — and hit a batter, causing Crabtree to switch pitchers before placing Lawson back in to start the third inning.
“We have to be better in the circle,” Crabtree said. “We have to make sure we are on. When your opponent scores nine runs, it puts a lot of pressure on your offense.”
After falling into a six-run hole, the Lady Badgers rebounded defensively and the team’s bats came to life as catcher Kloe Corbin and Lawson both hit home runs en route to tying the game 6-6 heading into the seventh inning.
Then disaster struck.
With two outs, the Lady Lions managed to load the bases, setting the stage for Tori Burkett to deliver a three-RBI double, and Lampasas could not recover.
Despite the disappointment, Crabtree drew positives from the experience.
“We came back from a 6-0 deficit,” she said. “We scratched and scratched and scratched, and we didn’t ever give up. Even when they scored those three runs in the seventh, we could have easily hung our heads, but we fought back. We got the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, but if you don’t put the ball in play, you can’t do much.”
Brownwood pitcher Alyson Finningan recorded three consecutive strikeouts to conclude the game, stranding three Lady Badgers. Finnigan finished the game with 17 strikeouts, and Crabtree is expecting another difficult challenge tonight.
“Liberty Hill’s pitcher is good,” she said. “We faced her last year, and she is going to throw a lot of tough pitches. Hopefully, we can prepare and be ready for it.”
In the end, however, Crabtree believes it will come to defense and holding the Lady Panthers (16-5, 3-0) to less than five runs.
“Some people might think that number is high, but we know we can score five runs,” she said. “We know we can get those runs in, but defensively, we have to do a better job of keeping them down.”