LAMPASAS – Lampasas lost the lead, but simultaneously gained a second chance, and the Lady Badgers did not squander it.
After building a 3-0 advantage against Stephenville with relative ease, Lampasas saw its lead completely evaporate in the fourth inning as the Honeybees used a pair of home runs to tie the score.
It appeared the Lady Badgers were beginning to lose control, but in reality, they were simply starting over.
Lampasas responded by scoring six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, propelling it to a 10-3 victory in the opening game of the Class 3A bi-district playoff series against Stephenville.
Following the win, Lampasas sophomore Alyssa Maldonado, who finished with two hits, including an inside-the-park home run, said she viewed Stephenville’s comeback as nothing more than a second opportunity.
“We knew we had to win and get this series in our favor,” the shortstop said. “We were tied, so it is like a 0-0 game. It was like a fresh start. We got to begin all over again.”
Junior centerfielder Blake Webb hit a single to start the Lady Badgers’ furious fourth inning as seven consecutive batters reached base with the first six crossing home plate.
For Lampasas head coach Cassie Crabtree, the offensive outburst is exactly what she expects.
“That is what we always talk about — we have to win the inning,” she said. “Whatever happens; if they get three runs like tonight, we’ve got to come back an win it, and we did. … The girls did a great job of coming back and scratching for those runs that we really needed.”
The victory gives the Lady Badgers a 1-0 lead with the best-of-three series shifting to Stephenville for Game 2 tonight at 6:30. If necessary, Game 3 will be played at Stephenville on Saturday at noon.
With the top of the lineup thriving, Lampasas produced 12 hits in the opener, including a standup triple from Marisa Maldonado in the first inning that scored the Lady Badgers’ initial run.
Lampasas (21-7) followed with a two-run second inning thanks to Alyssa Maldonado’s hard hit that found its way into the right field corner, scoring teammate Blake Webb before touching all the bases and sliding into home plate to beat the throw.
“I was just running my little heart out,” Alyssa Maldonado said. “That was the fastest I’ve ever run — ever.”
The 3-0 advantage held until the top of the fourth inning, when Stephenville’s Sami Shaffer hit a two-run home run to center field and teammate Chrisly Wells followed with a solo shot over the left-field wall one batter later.
But the Lady Badgers brushed off the rally with a six-hit showing in the bottom half of the inning with Blakeli Brookreson’s two-RBI single, which finished with her on third base following a throwing error, igniting the team.
The left fielder went 4 for 4 in the game on a quartet of singles, scoring three times, including the contest’s final run off a double from Marisa Maldonado, who was 3 for 4, hitting a single, double and triple, with three RBIs.
“I felt way more confident than I have in any other game,” Brookreson said. “I was pretty excited to go 4 for 4. That was my first time ever to do that.”
Lampasas’ big fourth inning also allowed freshman pitcher Sienna Lawson to recover mentally after having her confidence rattled by giving up the pair of home runs, according to Crabtree.
“It is always nice to have that little bit of cushion, but when things go bad, you have to refocus somehow,” she said. “Her teammates allowed her to refocus, regain her command in the circle and be in charge. That’s what teammates are for. They had her back.”
Outside of the fourth inning, Lawson only gave up two hits to Stephenville (14-15-1), while striking out seven Honeybees, and defensively, the Lady Badgers did not commit an error.
While pleased with her team’s overall performance, Crabtree knows it will take a better showing tonight if Lampasas intends to sweep the series.
“Game 2 is big,” she said. “We have to be more intense than we were tonight, but I think they will be. They are eager, and they are ready.”