SALADO — Salado was hoping to run away from Florence on Tuesday and make its first district loss to Rogers last week a distant memory.
Instead, the young Lady Buffaloes — who stayed close to Salado in the teams’ first meeting earlier this season — played even better Tuesday.
Salado had just two hits off freshman Emily Gray, but the Lady Eagles put both to use Tuesday to pull out a 2-1 victory at home.
“We came out here and battled,” Salado head coach Kory Craddick said. “It wasn’t a good night. And we know that we’re going to have a few of those where we need to overcome some adversity. And to come out on top was very nice, especially after a tough loss against Rogers last week.”
The game was a classic pitchers’ duel as neither team managed a hit until the fourth inning.
Coming off the loss to Rogers, it wasn’t the start Salado (20-6, 8-1) was hoping for, especially after the Lady Buffaloes (8-9, 3-6) played them relatively close in a 4-0 loss earlier this season.
“We didn’t want that to happen again,” Salado sophomore Mallory Schattle said. “But we just weren’t able to adjust to their pitching tonight.”
Schattle helped Salado bust out in the bottom of the fourth when she crushed a one-out triple to deep left field for the Lady Eagles’ first hit of the game.
The Lady Eagles’ last hit of the game came on the very next at-bat when senior Shyenne Hicks drove Schattle in with a triple of her own.
The next batter, CeCe Cantu, drove in pinch-runner Grace Tauferner with a sacrifice bunt for what proved to be the decisive run in the game.
Gray didn’t allow a hit the rest of the game, striking out five and walking just one in six innings.
“There’s not many people who are going to keep Hicks and Schattle off the bases. Their 3 and 4 hitters are as good as they come in our classification,” Florence coach Brett Gola said. “So, for (Gray) to just to give up those two hits, it really says a lot about her performance.”
Florence pulled within one on a two-out RBI double by senior Samantha Vaughan in the top of the sixth, but Hicks struck out the next batter to end the inning.
“Shyenne did a heck of a job tonight. She was on,” Craddick said. “She was able to throw inside, throw outside, throw her rise-ball pretty well. I know every time I put Shyenne out there on the mound she’s going to battle for us, and she’s going to do whatever she can to help this team try to get a win.”
Florence got the tying run on with one out in the top of the seventh, but Hicks — like she did with a runner on in the five previous innings — kept Florence at bay, retiring the next two batters to end the game.
“I just knew that I had to go out there and pitch strikes,” Hicks said. “But I knew if there was a ball in play that my defense was behind me the whole way.”
Afterward, Salado was happy to get back to its winning ways against the Lady Buffaloes — but it certainly wasn’t easy.
“I think it was hard. It was really hard,” Schattle said. “I knew that we needed to come out here and win this game just so that we have more energy because I knew that all of us were pretty upset about Friday’s game.”