LLANO — It was not an ideal situation, but it was necessary.
Looking to close out Comfort in Game 3 of its opening-round series of the Class 3A playoffs, Florence immediately constructed a 3-0 lead.
Then, the Lady Buffaloes let it slip away.
The Deer responded with six unanswered runs during the next two innings, but Florence posted six runs in the fourth inning to reclaim a lead it would not relinquish en route to a 14-12 victory.
While Lady Buffaloes head coach Doug Harrigan would have preferred a one-side affair to secure an area-round berth, he admits the situation has benefits.
“I’ve been trying to get across to these girls that the game is seven innings,” Harrigan said, “and the game’s never over.
“In the past, earlier in the year and even during district, we would have dropped our heads and just said, ‘We’re done,’ but they didn’t. They came back, got those runs back, and then, put the pressure on Comfort.”
But Florence (16-14) was not done withstanding stress.
After a five-run outburst in the top of the sixth inning gave the Lady Buffaloes a 14-7 advantage, the Deer scored twice in the bottom of the inning before pulling within two runs, 14-12, with the tying runs on base in the seventh inning.
Comfort (16-12-1) would not get any closer, though.
“It was very reassuring to be able to hold them off late,” Florence sophomore Shadow Sincross said.
Sincross opened the contest’s scoring, hitting a three-run home run to left field in the first inning, and the left fielder was one of six Lady Buffaloes to cross home plate during the fourth-inning comeback as the team batted through its lineup.
Additionally, Sincross, who was 2 for 3 with three runs and three RBIs, scored after hitting a pitch off the center field wall in Florence’s five-run sixth inning.
And she was not the only Lady Buffaloe to produce offensively.
Led by Sincross, seven players finished with at least one hit, one run and one RBI for Florence.
Senior first baseman Unique Rodriguez had a pair of hits, RBIs and runs scored, while teammates Hollie Ellis and Hailey Giddens each had two hits to highlight the showing.
Now, the Lady Buffaloes turn their attention toward the area round, where they will play Karnes City in a three-game series, beginning Thursday. The location of the series has not been determined.
Regardless of where the games take place, Harrigan intends to prepare his team for the intense atmosphere.
“We’re going to be working on defense, hitting and putting ourselves in pressure situations at practice,” he said, “because we need to be able to withstand the pressure.
“It’s going to be the same thing in the second round that we had in this series. We have to be able to handle those pressure-packed situations.”
CLASS 3A BI-DISTRICT (best-of-3)
- Thursday: Florence 6, Comfort 3
- Thursday: Comfort 9, Florence 8
- Saturday: Florence 14, Comfort 12, Florence wins series 2-1