8-3A All-District Softball

Lampasas shortstop Alyssa Maldonado watches her leadoff home run April 8 against Llano in Lampasas. Maldonado was named District 8-3A co-offensive player of the year.

Her team was ahead, but Blakeli Brookreson was in a tough position. In the bottom of the first inning against Llano on Tuesday, Lampasas’ leadoff hitter Alyssa Maldonado delivered a solo home run over the centerfield fence. The blast gave the Lady Badgers a much-needed injection of momentum after suffering through a miniature losing skid, dropping three of their previous four and falling from fourth to No. 28 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s Class 3A poll.

Although the hit injected Lampasas with self-assurance, the only problem from Brookreson’s perspective was she had to follow Maldonado in the lineup.

“Her home run was huge,” the left fielder said. “It was great, but since I’m after her, I was just like, ‘How do I top that?’ I’m a slapper, the ball just doesn’t go far, but I felt like we were kind of timid at first, and after she hit that it gave us a lot of confidence.”

As she feared, Brookreson was unable to match Maldonado’s reinvigorating blast in her first at-bat, but she produced a strong game nonetheless, going 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and scored a run as Lampasas defeated the Lady Yellow Jackets 12-0.

Now, with the team seemingly back on track after the hiccup blemished a 17-2 start to the season, the Lady Badgers must focus on finishing strong, starting with tonight’s game at Brownwood. Lampasas head coach Cassie Crabtree is confident the team will be just fine, however, if it continues to hit the ball.

“Offensively, we are pretty tough at the plate — one through nine,” she said. “That is the good part, and that is the fun part. We are ready, but we are going to continue to talk about the mental game and continue to talk about what we’ve got to do with Brownwood’s pitcher because she dominated us last time. But we will make adjustments, and we will make it happen.”

In the first encounter, Lady Lions pitcher Alyson Finnigan struck out 17 Lampasas batters, limiting the Lady Badgers to just four hits, en route to a 9-6 victory.

After trailing the entire game, Lampasas tied the score 6-6 in the sixth inning, but gave up three runs in the top of the seventh inning with two outs before loading the bases only to have three consecutive batters strike out in the bottom half of the inning.

The loss triggered a downward spiral for the team as it lost to state-ranked Liberty Hill 7-3 and Gatesville 10-9 over the next three games. The defeat against the Lady Hornets was especially frustrating because Lampasas held a 9-5 advantage heading into the bottom of the seventh inning before numerous errors helped lead to the Lady Badgers’ demise.

At that point, Crabtree knew she had a problem on her hands.

“We’ve preached and preached how they are good, and they should know they can get the job done,” she said. “We spent the last couple of days getting them mentally prepared and really talked about the mental game.

“They definitely responded and responded well. They took our advice, and they were confident, and that’s what I told them. They looked like a whole new team, and that is what we like to see — learning from their mistakes.”

Tied for second place in the district standings with the Lady Lions, maintaining their confidence will be critical as the Lady Badgers (19-5, 4-3) travel to No. 22 Brownwood tonight before hosting No. 4 Liberty Hill on Tuesday.

Moving forward, Brookreson wants to see more early explosions from her team like it had against Llano, scoring seven runs in the first inning.

“We have to start each game with a lot of intensity,” she said. “We just have to keep our mood up, be confident in our ability, have good pitching, and we will do great.”

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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