LAMPASAS — With the game on the line, Lampasas experienced the worst possible scenario. Twice.
After clawing out of a six-run hole to tie the score, the No. 7 Lady Badgers could not complete the comeback against Brownwood, giving up three runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning before loading the bases with no outs only to leave all three runners stranded in the bottom of the inning.
The pair of breakdowns resulted in a 9-6 loss at home for Lampasas, leaving head coach Cassie Crabtree struggling with conflicted emotions.
“This is very disappointing,” she said. “It hurts. They fought so hard. It was a good game for us because we haven’t had to come back that much. … So, there are some positives we can take out it.”
In the end, however, missed opportunities late in the game haunted Crabtree.
Lampasas freshman pitcher Sienna Lawson hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to tie the game 6-6 before the Lady Lions hit into a pair of outs to start the seventh. Brownwood’s next three batters loaded the bases before catcher Tori Burkett connected on a double to deep centerfield, sending all three runners across home plate.
Despite falling behind once again, the Lady Badgers, who did not record a hit until the fourth inning, appeared to be in position to produce another rally as each of their first three batters got on base.
Then Brownwood pitcher Alyson Finnigan found her form, striking out three consecutive Lady Badgers to secure the victory.
“She shut us down,” Crabtree said of Finnigan’s performance. “We scratched and scratched but could never get that momentum to where we controlled the game. We never controlled the game, and it showed at the end.”
Finnigan finished with 17 strikeouts, including eight in the first three innings to set the tone.
With its pitching silencing the Lady Badgers’ bats, Brownwood (13-5, 2-1 District 8-3A) capitalized early, scoring six runs on five hits in the second inning.
The score held until Lady Badgers catcher Kloe Corbin hit a two-run home run to centerfield in the fourth inning before teammate Tori Caruthers scored to cut the Lady Lions’ lead in half, 6-3.
In the following inning, Lampasas (17-3, 2-1) continued to inch closer, using consecutive RBI singles from Corbin and Marisa Maldonado to trim the deficit to one run, setting the stage for Lawson’s game-tying home run in the sixth inning.
But even with the odds in their favor both defensively and offensively in the seventh inning, the Lady Badgers could not avoid critical mistakes.
“Once we made some adjustments, it was good, and we battled,” Crabtree said. “That is what the most disappointing part is — you battle so hard and fight back, and then come up a little short.”
While the outcome was extremely disappointing, Crabtree found solace in the fact her team was able to remain competitive after a devastating second inning. In addition to allowing six runs, all three Lady Badgers struck out in the bottom of the inning.
“The whole demeanor of our team was in shock,” she said. “But they did a good job of coming back and making sure they didn’t hang their heads.”