HARKER HEIGHTS — Ellison head softball coach Rebecca Daley described the Lady Eagles’ 2-15 pre-district start as hitting a “roadblock.”
Thanks to one hard-hit double and several softer in-betweeners and bloops, Ellison may have broken through that blockage with a five-run sixth inning in a 9-4 victory over rival Harker Heights — the Lady Eagles’ first win in District 8-5A this season.
“We all love those power line drives, but those bloops seemed to work for us today,” said Ellison catcher Kennedy Connell, who was 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
“We were able to string them all together — we’d get one bloop after one bloop after one bloop — which all led to runs scored, and then we’d have those big hits with people on. It all kind of tied together.”
With Ellison (3-17, 1-2 8-5A) nursing a scant 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth, Alexis Watson started things off with a sharp liner up the middle that rolled to the center-field wall for a double. It was the Lady Eagles’ hardest hit ball of the game.
Each of the next five Ellison batters reached base as Ashla Howell made it to first when Heights shortstop Ashley Flores couldn’t field a soft grounder and Brandy Wilson did so on a fielder’s choice when Flores gunned down Watson at home for the inning’s first out.
Back at the top of the lineup, Felicia Camargo sent a comebacker just to the left of second base to score Howell, and Bryanna Sanchez blooped a soft grounder in between first and second that first baseman Deanna Turck couldn’t field to score Wilson from third.
“I don’t need home runs to be hit, I need a little bitty base knock, I just need something in play,” Daley said. “I need those short ones, those hard in-betweeners.”
Dusti Douglas (2-for-3, 3 RBIs) followed with a rolling single up the middle to score both Camargo and Sanchez and advanced to second after the ball got past Heights catcher Regan McIlvenna on the throw home to give Ellison an 8-3 advantage.
But the bleeding wasn’t done yet as Connell sliced a liner to left fielder Brianna Smith, who sailed the throw to first base out of play as Douglas scored to go ahead 9-3.
“It was huge because we haven’t had a breakout inning. And to have a breakout inning like that is a really good feeling,” Connell said.
Camargo, Ellison’s usual starting pitcher who began the game at third, came on in the third inning, after the Lady Knights (7-17, 1-2) put together a three-run second inning against Sanchez, and effectively shut down Heights’ momentum. Camargo allowed three hits over the next four innings, including sending down the first seven Lady Knights she faced, before McIlvenna drilled an 0-2 pitch over the center-field wall for a home run in the bottom of the seventh.
“It was a little too late. We can’t come out here and do it in the seventh inning,” Heights coach Jamie Stephens said. “We’ve got to step out ready to play from the time we arrive here to the time we leave here.”
While the Lady Eagles were either finding holes or taking advantage of nine Heights errors, the Lady Knights couldn’t seem to do either, despite seven hits — loading the bases in the first with one out only to come away empty-handed and stranding two runners in the second after scoring two of the three runs on Ellison errors. Courtney Luedecking (2-for-3) was the only Heights player with multiple hits on the afternoon.
“It’s a struggle. You’re not going to be able to hit what you can’t see — I’ve been saying that all year long — you cannot hit what you cannot see, and that’s our biggest problem right now,” Stephens said. “It’s mental toughness that we’re lacking right now.”