WACO — This whole business of winning playoff softball games is starting to become a habit for the Salado Lady Eagles.
It’s a habit they hope to not break any time soon, particularly today.
Salado scored five runs in the second inning and three in the third and made it hold up for an 8-3 victory over the Corsicana Mildred Lady Eagles in the first game of a best-of-three Class 2A area-round series Friday night at the Waco ISD Complex.
Game 2 begins at 2 p.m. today at the same site. Salado (22-4) won its first playoff game in program history Monday by beating Clifton. But if Salado is to put away District 23-2A champion Mildred, it will need to keep putting the pressure on.
“We got a little bit complacent and out of our normal rhythm,” Salado coach Kory Craddick said. “Mildred did a good job by switching pitchers and set our bats back.”
After cranking out seven hits in the first three frames, Salado managed just one in the final four off reliever Aubyn Turner, who took over for starter Olivia Farmer.
Left-hander Morgan Hill went the distance for Salado, spraying nine hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. Hill yielded just one hit in the first three shutout innings and managed to escape jams to keep Mildred from getting close.
“Hopefully we’ll hit better (today),” Craddick said. “We’re in uncharted water and we can’t be complacent. We have to put our foot on the throttle.”
Salado sent nine batters to the plate to nab a 5-0 lead in the second. Hill hit a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield to score Jenna Franz from second for the first run.
After a Kristen Oakes bunt single, Salado scored the final four runs of the frame with two outs. Reagan Best lofted a bloop single that fell in front of left fielder Maddie Moore to drive in Hill and Oakes.
Cece Cantu reached on an error and Malory Schattle poked a two-run triple to the right-field corner to give Salado a 5-0 advantage.
Hill got the Lady Eagles going in the third with a two-out triple down the right-field line. Walks to Oakes and Josie Norman loaded the bases. Best collected an infield hit, her second of three hits, to bring in Hill. Cantu singled off Farmer’s glove and the ball trickled through the infield to bring in Oakes and Norman.
The hits and runs dried up for Salado the rest of the way, but they were enough.
Mildred closed within six with two runs in the fourth. Joanna Tapley doubled in Farmer and later scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error. Mildred had two runners in scoring position with two outs before Schattle speared a liner by Morgan McCreary at her shortstop position to get out of the inning.
Tapley added another RBI single in the fifth to make it 8-3. Mildred loaded the bases in the sixth but couldn’t push across a run.
“We came up big when we had to,” Craddick said. “Malory always comes up with a big play.”
Craddick said he is uncertain who he will start in the circle today, but knows his team needs to keep putting up offensive numbers regardless.
“I’m very on edge for (today),” he said. “Hopefully we will play solid for seven innings instead of four.”