GATESVILLE — Chris Sommerfeld was not surprised.
In his first season as Gatesville’s head coach, Sommerfeld witnessed the Lady Hornets produce dramatic, come-from-behind victories, suffer stunning defeats and rebound from a 1-4 start in District 8-3A play to earn a second consecutive playoff berth.
So when his team lost a pair of home games to Glen Rose in the squad’s Class 3A bi-district series Saturday afternoon, ending Gatesville’s season, Sommerfeld was far from flabbergasted.
“This is just the way this season has gone for us,” he said. “It has been crazy, unexpected and you never know what is coming next. Overall, I think this really kind of sums up who we were throughout the year. We’d play well at times, and we’d play down at times, but when you are in the playoffs, you’ve got to be more consistent than that.”
Gatesville produced a 9-7 extra-inning victory in Game 1 at Glen Rose on Friday, and appeared poised for a sweep after a six-run sixth inning gave the Lady Hornets a 9-7 advantage in Game 2.
But the cushion was not nearly enough.
The District 7-3A champion Lady Tigers responded emphatically to win 14-9 and followed with a series-clinching 11-3 victory in Game 3.
Despite struggling offensively early in Game 2, Gatesville clawed its way out of a 5-1 hole to tie the contest 7-7 in the sixth inning on McKenzie Winkler’s two-run home run. Teammates Evan Edmiston and Mona Lewis followed with back-to-back singles before a fielding error on Marleigh Mayhew’s shot to center field allowed both runners to cross home plate.
With their season on the line, however, Glen Rose scored seven runs on five hits, and the Lady Hornets never recovered, going three-up, three-down to end the game before producing only four hits in Game 3.
Sommerfeld did not see any significant swing in momentum after the Lady Tigers’ seventh-inning rally appeared to demoralize Gatesville, though.
“I guess it kind of hurt,” he said, “but I think a lot of it is they just played better than us. We just gave them way too much today. They earned a lot, but we gave them way too much. You can’t beat playoff teams or district champions when you give up as many runs as we did today.
“It is not all physical errors; there were mental things, too. Our growing pains really showed up today at inopportune times.”
The Lady Hornets (15-15) gave up three runs to start Game 3 and trailed 4-0 before Shaley Sutton’s two-RBI standup double and Ashlee Green’s subsequent RBI single pulled them within a run heading into the fourth inning.
Then Gatesville’s bats went silent.
Mayhew, who hit a single in the fourth inning, was the last Lady Hornet to reach base, and Glen Rose (14-17) delivered another big inning, recording five runs on four hits in the bottom of the fifth to put the score out of reach.
Although the outcome was not what Sommerfeld wanted, he is satisfied with his first season.
“Obviously, you always want to win another game,” he said, “but considering where we were about a month ago, sitting in last place in district, and to fight back with the way we did to be here, win Game 1 and be as close as we were, that is a tremendous effort by the girls. A lot of young kids would have quit a long time ago, so for us to be here still is a special thing in my mind.”
More importantly, Sommerfeld was pleased to extend Gatesville’s playoff streak to two consecutive trips after experiencing a three-year postseason drought.
“Having that consistent program,” he said, “that is what it is about. Us getting back here and being in the playoffs, I really think helps us moving forward as a program.”