LIBERTY HILL — Gatesville’s unexpected playoff run is over.

After entering the postseason as a fourth seed and upsetting four-time defending district champion Fairfield in the Class 4A bi-district

round, the Hornets opened their area series with a 5-3 win against Liberty Hill.

Friday, however, the series shifted to the Lady Panthers’ home field, and after winning Game 2 by three runs, 5-2, Liberty Hill dominated the tiebreaker, cruising to an 18-1 victory in five innings and ending Gatesville’s season.

It was a disappointing finish to a year that saw the Hornets return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and win their first series since 2013.

And for much of Game 2, it appeared the Hornets might reach the regional quarterfinals for just the second time in program history.

Gatesville recorded the game’s first run as center fielder Amiah Lamar crossed home plate thanks to teammate Chesney Smith’s RBI, but the Lady Panthers tied the score in the bottom of the first inning.

The score held until the third inning, when Liberty Hill posted three runs on four hits to take a 4-1 lead, but the Hornets cut the deficit in half in the fifth inning as Lamar’s RBI single scored first baseman Jaycee Bragewitz.

But Gatesville could not get any closer, and the Lady Panthers forced a deciding contest, and the Hornets quickly lost control.

Each of Liberty Hill’s first two batters reached base on an error, and moments later, both scored before a solo home run from Kandya Faurie made the score 3-0.

Then, the scenario repeated itself.

In the second inning, the Hornets committed two more errors, and the Lady Panthers capitalized with three runs on three hits, inflating their cushion to 6-0.

Following a quiet third inning with the batters going three-up-and-three-down, Liberty Hill’s offense exploded as the Lady Panthers posted a dozen runs on 12 hits in the fourth and fifth innings combined.

The Hornets finally responded in the fifth inning, getting their first hit of the contest from right fielder Maci Matthews, who connected for a single. Four batters later, Matthews scored from third base on a wild pitch, but it was not enough to avoid the run-rule defeat.

Gatesville finished the game with five errors and ended its season with a 24-15-1 record.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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