After dropping a heartbreaker at Harker Heights the day before, Ellison couldn’t wait to take the field Tuesday at home against Killeen.
It had to be done in dramatic fashion, but the Lady Eagles rid themselves of the bad taste from Monday with a 4-3 walk-off victory in the bottom of the eighth inning in District 8-6A action.
With runners on second and third and no outs in the home half of the eighth, Anna Hontz drove a 1-2 pitch to deep right field to plate the game-winning run.
“What a difference a day makes,” Ellison head coach Brian Cotton said. “For the fans, it was a very good game — a defensive battle. We were up, they came back and tied it up, and there were a few innings with people on the edge of their seats.
“But having this group of girls, mature young ladies who are seniors, they understand that we’ve been here before and they knew how to come out and win this game.”
To open the bottom of the eighth, Cydney Crathers reached on a single up the middle before Nani Camargo slapped a double down the foul line in left to put two runners in scoring position.
When she got to the plate, Hontz’s goal was simple.
“I just thought, ‘Man — I need to get a hit,’” Hontz said. “Lately, I’ve been in a slump, and it just felt good to get a nice hit and win the game. Lately, we’ve been working in and out (on the corners) of the plate, and I just took that opportunity.
“After I hit it, I had the biggest smile on my face.”
The game was a defensive battle. Neither team registered a hit for the first 2½ innings, but that changed in the bottom of the third.
With one out, Taren Frescatore blooped a single to left for the Lady Eagles (7-5, 2-3 8-6A) before Madison Livers reached on an infield hit.
Kyla Kronen then grounded a single up the middle to score Frescatore from second, and Livers scored on the same play after the throw home from center field sailed high and behind Lady Kangaroos catcher Shaylynn Murk to give Ellison a 2-0 lead.
Kelsie Kaminska followed with a hard grounder to left to score Kronen and put the Lady Eagles ahead 3-0.
But Killeen (4-6, 1-4) clawed back into it.
In the top of the fourth, Tanjala Smith drew a walk, stole second and reached third on defensive indifference, and she was driven home on a single to left by Murk.
Later in the frame, Kiara Dominguez singled on a hard grounder to left, plating Murk and pulling the Lady Kangaroos within 3-2.
The score remained the same until the top of the seventh. Dominguez drew a leadoff walk and stole second and third, and she scored on an RBI groundout to second by Ava Cathcart to tie the contest at 3-3.
Livers drew a leadoff walk for Ellison in the home half of the seventh, but Killeen pitcher McKenzie Kudla got a lineout and a popout, and Livers was thrown out by Murk while trying to steal second.
In the top of the eighth, Smith doubled off the wall in center for the Lady Kangaroos. Murk followed with a sacrifice bunt, but Smith rounded third and tried to score and was thrown out on a close play at the plate to keep the game tied.
That set up the dramatic conclusion in the bottom of the eighth.
For the Lady Eagles, Kronen was 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored, and Livers was 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.
Smith led Killeen with a 2-for- 3 performance at the plate and a run scored.
Livers got the win in the circle, throwing a complete game and surrendering three runs — two earned — on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
“Madison controlled the game,” Cotton said. “She was able to get a lot of ground balls and popups with some strikeouts. She’s the straw that stirs the drink sometimes, and she was stirring today.”
Both teams are scheduled to return to action Tuesday. Ellison will play at No. 12 Belton at 7 p.m., and the Lady Kangaroos will host Copperas Cove at 7 p.m.