Alena Salazar certainly wouldn’t trade the four hits she collected Saturday afternoon. No way. But there is something about selling out for a grounder and recording an out that gives Temple’s freshman second baseman a sense of satisfaction and boosts that facet of the game in front of the offensive output.
“I enjoy diving, especially when you stop the ball. And then feeling the cheer and excitement from the team after you make the play is really uplifting,” Salazar said. “It’s like, you know, I’m making a play for my team, I’m backing up my pitcher. That’s what I was taught to do.”
Salazar made a pair of head-first diving plays — one to her left and one to her right — to complement her productive plate performance that also included five RBIs, and the Tem-Cats rolled to a second straight lopsided victory in as many days, 26-5 in four innings over Ellison.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group. Anytime you have a tough loss, there’s always two ways to come back,” said Temple coach Jessica Harborth, whose team lost 21-0 to Belton on Tuesday. “We talked to them about coming back strong and doing the little things right. This group did everything they needed to. Got to be proud of that.”
Salazar finished 4-for-5, including a bases-clearing double in a 12-run bottom of the first during which the Tem-Cats sent 17 batters to the plate. Leadoff batter Jaylin Kindles walked three times, had a two-run double and scored five runs, Madison Wacker, Bryanna Salas and Cameryn Stewart each had two RBIs, and Angie Cox went 2-for-2 for Temple.
Tem-Cats right-hander Hayli Hesse started in the circle and allowed five runs on five hits and struck out five in three-plus innings. Makenna Holland took over in the fourth and retired the three batters she faced.
“We did not let (the Belton loss) put us down at all. It did not affect our mentality at all. We kept the same mentality as our coach told us to and moved on,” Salazar said. “There’s always the next game. After one game, we’re always looking forward.”
Kindles, Salazar and Salas all scored twice in the opening inning, which featured RBI singles by Alexis Lewis, Wacker and Chloe Prentiss, Salas’ RBI double and Salazar’s three-run two-bagger.
Temple inflated its cushion with 10 runs in the second. The Tem-Cats plated a pair on errors, one on a double steal and another via a wild pitch. Ashley Alcozer, Stewart and Salas drew bases-loaded walks, and Wacker, Salazar and Cox delivered RBI hits in the frame.
“They did a great job of not getting in their own heads and chasing bad pitches,” Harborth said. “They sat on theirs, and when they did get a strike, they did a really good job of staying through the ball and hitting hit hard.”
Ellison’s Mimi Rodriguez tripled then scored on a throwing error in the third to get the Lady Eagles on the board. They tacked on a second run in the inning when Anyssa Chelby and Sammy Gutierrez hit back-to-back doubles.
Ellison added a three-run home run with no outs in the fourth to chase Hesse.
Temple now turns its attention to the rest of its busy stretch. The Tem-Cats play twice more over the next three days, beginning with Monday’s road game versus Waco and Tuesday’s home test against Waco Midway. Both are slated for 2 p.m. starts.
“Just have to have that same winning mentality that we had today,” Kindles said.
SATURDAY'S 12-6A SCORES
- Belton 26, Killeen 2, 4 innings
- Shoemaker 10, Waco 0, 5 innings
- Temple 26, Ellison 5, 4 innings
- Waco Midway 16, Harker Heights 1, 5 innings