TEMPLE — Temple produced timely hitting and pitching as well as solid defense Tuesday night, yet pins and needles still managed to wedge themselves into the season opener.
That’s OK, though, a little extra adrenaline to warm the senses on a chilly early February evening never hurt anybody.
Down by four in the seventh, visiting Harker Heights pulled within one with a three-run rally that included Ja’Lynn Swiney’s second home run of the night. But Tem-Cats starting pitcher Makenna Holland got Evan Fuller to swing through a 2-2 pitch for the final out, preserving a tense 7-6 victory in the teams’ season and District 12-6A opener.
“You’re always a little nervous about district being this early in the season, but it’s a great win to start out,” Temple coach Jessica Harborth said. “It’s gives us some momentum going into the season.”
The Tem-Cats had just expanded a 5-3 advantage to 7-3 with Bryanna Salas’ RBI sacrifice fly and Ashley Alcozer’s run-scoring double in the bottom of the six when Holland, a four-year starter, took the circle three outs from finishing off what looked to be a comfortable victory.
Back-to-back one-out walks and a double steal set up Marissa Stillwell’s RBI groundout, and Swiney followed with a two-run homer to left field that cut the Lady Knights’ deficit to 7-6. Holland, though, left it there by getting her fifth strikeout of the game.
“Makenna did a great job of getting things done when she needed to, and we came away with the win,” Harborth said.
Swiney finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs for Heights, which had seven hits but committed four errors to Temple’s zero.
Salas’ two-run home run in the third staked Temple to a 3-0 lead, and the Tem-Cats’ answered a Lady Knights run in the fourth with two in their half of the frame via Hayli Hesse’s RBI triple down the right-field line and Jaydin Kindles’ RBI single to make it 5-1.
Heights chipped away with a pair of runs in the sixth — Swiney’s first home run and Haley Brown’s RBI double — but, again, Temple responded with those two key runs in the sixth.
“This team is really good about having the mentality of if the other team scores one, they’re going to go get that one back,” said Harborth, whose team next plays at a tournament in Bryan starting Thursday. “As you can see, tonight they did a really good job of executing that.”
- Holland 7, Florence 2
- Marble Falls 7, Gatesville 4
- Rogers 6, Lampasas 3
- Belton 10, Copperas Cove 1
- Temple 7, Harker Heights 6
- Waco Midway 22, Killeen 0, 4 innings