Gatesville — The Hornets were able to defend the nest as they stung Liberty Hill at home 5-3 on Wednesday night.

Behind a strong outing by senior pitcher Chesney Smith and an offensive explosion in the second inning, Gatesville captured the momentum moving into Game 2.

“Chesney has been doing this for four years now, and she’s been able to overcome adversity all year long,” Gatesville head coach Jamie Villarrial said. “I’m really proud of her, and she hunkered down at the end.

“I went out to visit with her and tell her to relax and take a deep breath, and she told me to take a deep breath.”

Liberty Hill was able to load the bases in the top of the second inning, and the Lady Panthers were able to get the first run of the game on a sacrifice hit.

Gatesville responded in the bottom of the second, however, after Smith was hit by a pitch. Maci Matthews hit a single into centerfield, and five other Hornets followed with hits.

Jaycee Brayewitz, Erin Necessary, Rachael Dunahoo and Kendall Villagrana all got hits into centerfield, driving in three runs.

“We got some big hits there, and we were able to rally and hang on,” Villarrial said. “That’s what we do, that’s who we are.

“That was good stuff. We just have to have kids come up and produce.”

Haley Nichols drew a walk in the third inning and was able to steal second, but she was stranded on base as the inning ended.

Necessary got a single to start the bottom of the fourth inning on a blooper to short left field, and then, she was able to steal second. Villagrana and Amiah Lamar drew back-to-back walks that loaded the bases for the Hornets.

Necessary was able to steal home on a wild pitch, bringing the score to 5-1.

Liberty Hill was able to piece together a late rally in the top of the sixth and score two runs.

“You could see some of our inexperience in the playoffs there at the end,” explained Villarrial “We had some lack of focus and some jitters, but they were able to maintain composure and get the win.”

Gatesville will travel to Liberty Hill on Friday for Game 2 of the area-round series. The contest is set to begin at 6 p.m. with Game 3 to follow, if necessary.

The Hornets will be seeking their first trip to the third round since the 2010 season.

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