WACO — Caleigh Robinson approached the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning, knowing she had an opportunity to accomplish a rare feat.
With a triple, a double and a single already in the books, the Belton slugger was one swing away from not only hitting for the cycle but also ending the contest in walk-off fashion.
One high fastball was all she needed to leave no doubt about it, driving the game-ending home run deep over the center field wall for a 12-2 win over the Waco Lady Lions on Tuesday afternoon at Waco ISD Sports Complex.
“I thought about the cycle,” Robinson said. “But I know if I try to do too much then things tend to go wrong, and (Belton coach Matt) Blackburn said just look for a pitch I can drive. It was a pitch I could drive. Luckily it went over.”
The game was originally schedule to be played in Belton, but early rain made conditions unplayable and forced the move to Waco. The squads agreed that Belton would remain the home team, setting up the unusual walk-off win on the road for the Lady Tigers (18-10, 7-0) — their fourth consecutive victory by virtue of the mercy rule.
“Overall, this district is better than it was last year,” Belton coach Matt Blackburn said. “But I have an offense that is better than it was last year as well.”
The Lady Tigers connected for 11 hits — a double by Madison Ward was the only extra-base hit outside Robinson’s cycle — and had 20 batters reach base.
Robinson began the cycle by getting the toughest part out of the way early, hitting a line drive to the right-field corner in the first inning for a two-run triple and giving Belton the early lead.
She added a two-run double an inning later, blasting a shot to the center field wall that put Lady Tigers up 6-2.
“As soon as she hit the triple and the double, I was thinking she’d probably get the single next,” Blackburn said. “That’s the easy one for her — less running. She doesn’t like to run and as soon as I waved her to third (on the triple), she was probably thinking, ‘Oh, come on, Blackburn.’ But I knew she had the wheels to get it.”
Robinson got the single and later scored to cap Belton’s three-run fourth that made it 9-2, and she came to the plate to end it with a run in and two on in the fifth.
“She knew what she was looking for when she went up there,” Blackburn said. “When she came around she said, ‘I just hit for the cycle.’ I said, ‘I know.’
“I know you think about that kind of stuff, but it’s like a no-hitter. You don’t say it until it happens. It’s kind of fun.”
It made a winner out of pitcher Taylor Tubbs, who gave up two runs to the Lady Lions (1-6 district) in the second before retiring nine of the next 10 batters.
“She told me before the game she wasn’t feeling quite normal,” Blackburn said. “I asked her what was working, and she just threw her arms up. I told her we’d figure it out as the game goes. She did a good job of keeping it manageable.”
It was the first time in its last four games that Belton, which has outscored its district opponents 107-5, didn’t score at least 20 runs or bat around in an inning.
“We knew off the bat we weren’t as upbeat as we usually are,” Robinson said. “So we knew we had it on turn it on before they make a comeback. I don’t think the thought ever went through our head that we won’t win. It was just a matter of we need to step it up all around.”
The Lady Tigers are off until next Tuesday when they have a showdown at district co-leader Waco Midway.
TUESDAY'S 12-6A SCORES
- Belton 12, Waco 2, 5 innings
- Killeen 17, Ellison 6, 5 innings
- Shoemaker 5, Copperas Cove 2
- Waco Midway 6, Temple 1