LAMPASAS — It was not a win, but it was an accomplishment.
Lampasas entered its regular-season finale with an opportunity to earn a share of the District 27-4A championship by upsetting No. 5 Liberty Hill.
The Panthers refused to share the title, though.
Fueled by a five-run outburst in the third inning, Liberty Hill cruised to a 10-3 victory, completing an undefeated run through its district schedule.
Although the outcome was disappointing, Lampasas head coach Shane Doege feels it was still a benchmark moment for the program.
“If you would have said four years ago that the stands would be full,” he said, “people clapping, and Lampasas would be playing for a district championship, people would have called you crazy.
“It’s a testament to the kids, because they’ve worked their tails off to put us here. It’s weird to end the season like this, but it doesn’t diminish the fact we went 8-2 in district, and if we can go 8-2 in the playoffs, we’re going to go pretty deep.”
Few teams in the postseason, however, will possess Liberty Hill’s talent.
With TCU commit Kaden Dydalewicz on the mound, the Badgers were limited to just six hits, with sophomore Ace Whitehead accounting for half the production, going 3 for 4 with a trio of singles.
Offensively, the Panthers opened their scoring with a run in the first inning before producing five runs on four hits in the top of the third inning as all but one batter in the lineup reached base. Then, in the fourth inning, Liberty Hill (25-3-1, 10-0) inflated its advantage with a two-run home run.
Trailing 8-0, Lampasas (17-12, 8-2) recorded its first run in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Marty Ybarra hit a RBI single to center field, scoring teammate Hunter Rebando, but it was not enough to spark a rally.
Liberty Hill responded with two runs in the sixth inning before Lampasas center fielder Haydn Hammerschmidt scored on a Whitehead RBI in the bottom of the sixth, and Ethan Rascoe crossed home plate on a wild pitch in the seventh inning.
“We put ourselves in a hole,” Doege said, “and good teams take advantage of those situations. When you give them opportunities, good teams will always take advantage, and Liberty Hill definitely did that.”
Despite the loss, the Badgers will enter the playoffs as the district’s second seed but must wait for the District 28-4A standings to shake out before knowing their postseason fate.
With approximately two weeks off until the playoffs begin, Doege is not concerning himself with possible opponents, though.
Instead, he intends to use the span to focus internally.
“It’s all about getting ourselves ready to make as deep of a run in the playoffs as possible,” Doege said. “Our goal is to be the team that is most prepared come playoffs.”
MONDAY'S AREA BASEBALL
- Lorena 13, Gatesville 2
- No. 5 Liberty Hill 10, Lampasas 3