LAMPASAS — It is not the outcome Drew Cleavinger wanted, but it might be the one her team needed.
Lampasas entered Friday’s regular-season finale against Liberty Hill with momentum on its side after dominating the competition for more than a month. The Lady Badgers won 10 of their previous 12 games by a combined 66 runs, with their lone losses coming against District 19-4A champion No. 12 Salado.
In its last contest before returning to the playoffs, however, the streak ended.
Lampasas gave up a run in each of the final two innings and did not record a hit after the second inning, and the Lady Panthers capitalized, rallying late in the game to win 4-3.
Following the loss, the Lady Badgers head coach admitted the performance was disappointing, but the timing could be beneficial.
“A game like this helps us,” Cleavinger said. “We don’t want to have this feeling we are having right now anymore.
“This is a bit of a reality check, letting us know that we’re not unbeatable.”
Early on, Lampasas appeared poised for an impressive showing.
After allowing a run in the top of the first inning, the Lady Badgers immediately responded as leadoff hitter Kyndal Moyer hit her first of two singles in the game. Two batters later, fellow senior Sloane Johnson sent her teammate across home plate with an infield single.
Then, Lampasas designated player Cally Reding hit an RBI double, and Hannah Greenberg sent her home moments later, inflating the Lady Badgers’ cushion to 3-1.
Lampasas continued to load the bases in the second inning, but left fielder Natalie Denoso was thrown out at home plate, and a pair of runners were left stranded on the corners.
The Lady Badgers, who had five of their seven hits in the first inning, reached third base just once for the duration of the game.
“We can’t stop at the beginning,” Cleavinger said. “Those early runs were all we got, and that’s the hardest part — we just didn’t fight back like we normally do at the end of the game.”
Liberty Hill (19-6, 10-2) hit a home run in the fourth and sixth inning en route to tying the score 3-3, and the Lady Panthers produced the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning.
With the loss, Lampasas (16-6, 9-3) clinched third place in the district standings, placing it in a bi-district matchup against Caldwell.
Like Liberty Hill, the Lady Hornets are honorable mentions in the current Texas Girls Coaches Association poll.
Game 1 of the series will be played Thursday at 6:30 p.m. with Game 2 on Saturday at 5 p.m. If necessary, Game 3 will follow.
Pflugerville High School will host the series.
“They’re good,” Cleavinger said. “Like always, we’ll be working on having a tight defense, and we will work on our hitting, but we’re going to have to do our research.
“We have to study all the reports we can get on Caldwell, and then, we’ll go out and hit them hard.”
FRIDAY'S AREA BASEBALL
- China Spring 11, Gatesville 1
- Liberty Hill 6, Lampasas 5
- Blanco 17, Florence 4, 5 innings
- Liberty Hill 4, Lampasas 3
- Blanco 13, Florence 9