STEPHENVILLE — From the first moments, it was clear, this game would be different.
After being swept in the regular-season series, No. 10 Lampasas was intent on getting revenge against District 8-3A rival Brownwood, and two pitches into the rematch, leadoff hitter Alyssa Maldonado delivered the Lady Badgers’ first shot of redemption.
The sophomore shortstop sent the second pitch she saw over the left-field fence, sparking a surge of momentum that propelled Lampasas to a 5-0 victory against the Lady Lions in the Region I-3A quarterfinals Friday evening at Tarleton State.
Following the contest, Maldonado admitted she was focused on setting the tone immediately.
“I just needed to get this game started,” she said, “get the team motivated and show that we can hit against Brownwood, and we can do this.”
Brownwood pitcher Alyson Finnigan allowed a combined 10 hits while striking out 31 batters during the first two contests this season, but led by Maldonado and Kloe Corbin, the Lady Badgers (25-8) delivered seven hits and were never challenged en route to the program’s third regional semifinal appearance in the last four years.
While Maldonado’s solo home run was big on the scoreboard, it was even more important in the dugout, according to Lampasas head coach Cassie Crabtree.
“That is hard,” she said. “I was a pitcher, and when you give up a leadoff home run, that is hard to recover from. ... And then the No. 2 hole comes up and gets another hit. The first inning just put us in a spot where we could command the game throughout the game.”
Already holding a 1-0 advantage, Lampasas left fielder Blakeli Brookreson got on base with a single before Marisa Maldonado was walked one batter later, setting the stage for Corbin. The freshman catcher sent a standup double to centerfield, scoring both runners to increase the Lady Badgers’ cushion to 3-0 heading into the bottom of the first inning.
The score held until the fifth inning, when Corbin delivered her team-high 12th home run over the centerfield wall, re-energizing her team in the process.
“I wasn’t looking for anything special, I was just trying to hit,” Corbin said. “But when I hit it, it was gone, and it felt really good.”
After producing just one hit during the previous three innings, her timing could not have been any better.
“I kept saying, ‘We’ve got to get it back. We’ve got to spark something,’” Crabtree recalled. “That was huge because then the people behind her start hitting, and it just spreads.”
Corbin finished the game with two hits and three RBIs, while Maldonado also recorded a pair of hits, including an RBI single in the sixth inning to score teammate Blake Webb for the final run of the game.
Defensively, freshman Sienna Lawson pitched the complete game for Lampasas, allowing just three hits to Brownwood (19-10) and striking out two batters.
Now, the Lady Badgers turn their attention to the upcoming regional semifinals where they will face the winner between Lubbock Cooper and Pampa, which is tied with Lampasas in the current state rankings. The Lady Harvesters won Game 1 of the series 1-0 on Friday, and Game 2 is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today
Regardless of who emerges to face the Lady Badgers, Crabtree believes her team only needs to focus on itself at this point in the season.
“When we do our thing, good things are going to happen,” she said. “If we keep playing like we did tonight, it is going to be hard to beat us.”