BELTON — This one wasn’t about to get away from the Temple Tem-Cats.

In a District 8-5A softball season punctuated by narrow losses to the best in the league, the Tem-Cats were determined that their second meeting with rival Belton would be different.

Lexi Smith fired a masterful three-hitter with 15 strikeouts and the Tem-Cats got the runs they needed in the first and seventh innings to take down Belton 3-0 on Friday night at Lady Tiger Field.

Temple (17-12 overall, 7-3 district) picked up its first victory over one of the district’s frontrunners and spoiled Belton’s desire for a league championship. Belton (15-11, 8-2) fell two games behind leader Waco Midway.

“It was intense. It’s never boring, is it?” Temple coach Julie Goodman said. “This is the kind of game we had to have if we are going to turn the corner. We were not going to let this one slip by.”

Temple, which lost its first meeting with Belton 4-1 at home, manufactured runs and took advantage of Lady Tigers miscues to secure a victory that keeps the Tem-Cats in the hunt for second place.

“We just came through,” said junior right-hander Smith, who ran her record to 12-8. “It was everybody. Our defense was solid and we got the hits we needed. We took notes from the first one and we pulled through.”

The Lady Tigers didn’t put together the few hits they had at the right time. Belton coach Matt Blackburn placed much of the blame on himself.

“It was definitely my lack of preparing our girls for this ballgame,” he said. “We prepared for (Smith’s) riseball and she just threw us curves. We never made adjustments for it.”

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