LAMPASAS — With one swing of the bat, Alyssa Maldonado knew she changed the game.
After falling into an immediate 3-0 hole, Lampasas’ shortstop connected on a two-run homer to centerfield in the bottom of the first inning, igniting the fourth-ranked Lady Badgers, who went on to earn a 7-4 victory against Gatesville in both teams’ District 8-3A opener.
Despite failing to claim a lead until the third inning, Maldonado believes her hit was the difference.
“I feel like it triggered our team, and it pumped us up to keep us going,” the sophomore said. “It gave us a spark, and we had something to look forward to in the game.”
Lampasas head coach Cassie Crabtree agreed with her young slugger.
“That was huge,” she said. “She has been clutch all year for us, and she lives for those moments. That is the type of kid that lives for those moments, and that was just a huge momentum boost for our team to know they could hit Gatesville’s pitcher. That was definitely the momentum changer for the game.”
Lady Badgers freshman pitcher Sienna Lawson was shaky to begin the first district game of her career, walking the first batter she faced before hitting two of the next three Lady Hornets in the lineup. The second batter she hit occurred with the bases loaded, allowing Gatesville third baseman Shaley Sutton to cross home.
Two pitches later, Lady Hornets pitcher Evan Edmiston connected on a two-RBI single to give her team an early 3-0 advantage.
But it would not last for long.
Lampasas leadoff hitter Blakeli Brookreson delivered a single to open the bottom of the first inning, before Maldonado followed with her third home run of the season, bringing the team total to 21 through 18 games. Maldonado was 3 for 4 in the game, hitting a single and double to go along with her home run.
Gatesville held a 3-2 lead into the third inning, but it was quickly erased as the Lady Badgers scored four runs off four hits in the inning, including a pair of RBI doubles from Marisa Maldonado, who went 3 for 4, and Lawson and a two-RBI single from right fielder Megan Sittner.
“They were just putting the ball in play hard in key situations,” Crabtree said of her players, “and the bottom of our lineup came up big. Our nine-hole hitter (Sittner) had the bases loaded and hit one up the middle to score two. We just put the ball in play hard.”
Lawson scored in the fifth inning to give Lampasas (16-2, 1-0) its seventh unanswered run, creating a four-run cushion. But with their backs against the wall, the Lady Hornets responded as catcher McKenzie Winkler hit a solo home run to centerfield.
It would not be enough though.
“I thought we did a lot of things well,” Gatesville first-year head coach Chris Sommerfeld said. “We did some things in the late innings to try and scratch some runners across, but I guess that is where you’ve got to tip your hat to Lampasas.”
Along with Winkler, who was 2 for 4, first baseman Ashlee Green led Gatesville offensively, going 3 for 4 with a trio of singles and scoring a run.
The Lady Hornets (10-9, 0-1) produced five hits during the first two innings, but were limited to just three for the duration of the game as Lawson finished with four strikeouts in the complete-game victory.
Following the game, Lawson credited the early hit out of the park as a catalyst for her turnaround on the mound.
“I was very nervous in the first inning, but after Alyssa’s home run and us scoring, it really built up my confidence,” she said. “It pushed me throughout the game.”