HARKER HEIGHTS — Jamie Stephens was tired of her Lady Knights being drowned out by the howling coming from the Shoemaker dugout.
Through the first four innings, after the Lady Grey Wolves plated a five-run first, there was nary a squeak heard from Harker Heights.
“You sound like little field mice in here, I need to hear more from you,” Stephens told her team between innings.
“Guys, this can be the end of the ball game, or we could change it — it’s up to you.”
And with the crack of the bat, the Lady Knights finally found their voice Wednesday courtesy of an eight-run fifth inning — capped by a loud two-run home run from sophomore Sierra Warren — as Heights rallied for a 13-11 win over Shoemaker to pull even in District 8-5A play.
“That’s the key, keeping their heads up, and my kids did a great job today because they could have easily put their heads down and went home, but they didn’t,” Stephens said.
By the time Warren came up to bat for the second time in the fifth, before being beaten about the helmet following the first home run of her career, the Harker Heights (8-17, 2-2 8-5A) bench was full of boisterous cheers and sing-song chants, while the once-loud Lady Grey Wolves (3-13, 1-3) had grown silent.
“When we all started hitting, we all just started cheering, and that’s what we need throughout the game — cheering — that’s what brought us together,” Courtney Luedecking said.
After starting the game from the bench, Warren entered as a defensive replacement in the third and sparked the Lady Knights’ big inning by hustling to first base on a slow grounder that was bobbled. More fielding woes followed for Shoemaker as Regan McIlvenna drilled a hard liner between the legs of starting pitcher Morissa Cosper and Luedecking (2 for 3, two RBI) added a drive that rolled past left fielder Brittany Bolin.
Heights pinch hitter Deanna Turck sacrificed Luedecking home and cut Shoemaker’s lead to 7-6 with only one out on the board.
Karla Cosme doubled in Brianna Smith to tie the game at 7-7 and scored with Alex Rogues on a hard liner by leadoff hitter Alyssa Victorian that deflected off the glove of Lady Grey Wolves first baseman Dominique Jefferson and into right field for Heights’ first lead, 9-7.
The Lady Knights weren’t done. Warren turned on an 0-1 pitch and sent it screaming over the left-center field wall for an 11-7 advantage.
“If you wait on the ball and see it all the way through, that was just a normal hit and I got a home run,” Warren said. “It was just like the cherry on top to the whole game.”
Shoemaker answered with three runs in the top of the sixth, thanks to a passed ball and three errors to pull within 11-10.
But the Lady Knights still had enough left in the tank, as Luedecking scored on a hard line drive from Turck that rolled past Bolin and Turck came home on an RBI double from Rogues (2 for 4) to lead 13-10 entering the final inning.
The Lady Grey Wolves struck with five runs in the top of the first, highlighted by a three-run home run from Cosper as the first five Shoemaker players reached base. Bolin finished 2 for 5 with two runs scored and Naiya Porell was 2 for 4 with two RBI.