It’s Thursday night in Salado.
The Clifton Lady Cubs are in town to face the Lady Eagles in Game 1 of a bi-district best-of-three series.
The score is 2-2. Bottom of the fourth. Salado has bases loaded. No outs. Up to the plate steps senior Shyenne Hicks, Salado’s cleanup hitter.
Clifton calls timeout.
While the Lady Cubs surround their pitcher, Emily Brewer, for some conversation, Salado head coach Kory Craddick leaves the third-base coaching box to confer with Hicks, his best hitter.
“I told her: ‘Shyenne, go up there, have some fun, and hit a line-drive grounder,’” said Craddick. “And Shyenne just smiled at me. And when she smiles at me like that, I know something good is about to happen.”
“I wasn’t trying to hit it over the fence or anything like that,” said Hicks. “I just wanted a base hit, give us some energy, help us start piling up some runs and start hitting contagiously.”
Brewer’s first pitch was outside. Ball 1. Her second pitch was on the inside corner of the plate.
Hicks lined a bullet down the left-field line. It was a two-RBI double and Salado took the lead 4-2. Seven of the next eight Salado batters got on base. That “hitting contagiously” thing had indeed happened. Still in the fourth inning, Salado was ahead 11-2 and had a runner at second base with two outs.
Up stepped Hicks again.
Hicks blasted a to-the-wall triple to right-center, scored soon after, and the Lady Eagles never looked back, ultimately walking off their field 15-4 victors.
“Shyenne hit perfect tonight,” said Salado pitching ace Morgan Hill. “Her hitting was so clutch.”
All told, Hicks batted four times. In the first inning, she walked. In the third inning, she singled.
In that first plate appearance, Brewer threw four straight pitches to Hicks that were closer to New Zealand than home plate.
“I’m used to seeing that,” Craddick said. “It’s basically an intentional walk and I understand why people don’t want to give Shyenne a chance to hit. If you throw the ball anywhere close or in the middle of the plate, 95 percent of the time, she’ll hit a rocket.”
Hicks said the sort-of-intentional walks — similar to the one she saw on Thursday — usually don’t bother her.
“I understand that most of the time, teams want to work around me,” she said. “I’ll take those walks. I’m a competitor. I just want to win.”
Salado is on a mission to keep winning and get to the state tournament. Its team leader is Hicks.
“Shyenne keeps us going with her positive attitude,” Hill said.
Meagan Hill, Salado’s second baseman, said, “Shyenne really knows how to pick you up. If I ever get frustrated, I just look at her and she’ll say, ‘It’s OK, don’t worry, calm down.’ She gets me back into the right frame of mind.”
Hicks will play softball next season for Texas A&M-Kingsville on a full scholarship.
“Last season, we were playing Corsicana Mildred and their pitcher was going to Texas A&M-Kingsville,” Hicks said.
In that contest and against that college-bound pitcher, Hicks blasted an over-the-wall grand slam.
That certainly caught some peoples’ attention.
“Yes, right after the game, the Texas A&M-Kingsville coaches walked up to me,” Hicks recalled. “They introduced themselves to me and then they kept showing interest after that. So that made my decision easy.”
But collegiate softball will have to wait a while for Hicks. There’s some business to take care of right now.
“We need to beat Clifton again,” Hicks said.
Game 2 starts at 7 tonight in Clifton.
“We want to come out with the win,” Hicks said. “And move on.”
2A SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS
SALADO VS. CLIFTON (best-of-three)
- Game 1 — Thursday: Salado 15, Clifton 4
- Game 2 — Today: Salado at Clifton, 7 p.m.
- Game 3 (if necessary) — Tuesday: Salado vs. Clifton, 7 p.m. at Waco ISD Sports Complex
Contact Allan Mandell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7566â€‹ and read his blog at KDHPressbox.com