LIBERTY HILL — The Salado Lady Eagles call themselves a family.
They showed exactly why on Saturday.
Down 1-0 in the best-of-three series to Caldwell, the Lady Eagles persevered and played inspired softball to come back and capture the series by winning two games on Saturday by the scores of 4-3 and 12-11.
In Game 3, Caldwell had the tying run on third with two outs, but Lady Eagles pitcher Bailey Tindell induced a popup to right field to send the Salado dugout into celebration.
The Lady Eagles had come back from two games down to take the series and advance to the area round to meet Hillsboro next week.
“I was really interested to see how we would step out on the field today after they handled us Thursday,” said Salado head coach Kory Craddick. “Our girls really got in the box and fought.
“And to be able to step out on this field and win two games today in this heat says a lot about the type of team we have this season.”
Playing with just two seniors on its entire varsity roster, the Lady Eagles had to come out ready to play from the start and take two games from a Caldwell team that defeated them 8-3 on Thursday 8-3, Salado (26-8) did what not many teams could be able to do with such a young squad.
“We really preach being a family and all of them are really here for each other. I know we are still young and immature, but they really buy into trying to play for one another 100 percent of the time,” Craddick said.
“They really did a great job today. They rallied around our two seniors who are tremendous leaders and gave us a boost.”
In the finale, Caldwell (14-16) jumped out to an early lead when it plated three runs in the first inning. The three runs were helped when Salado committed two errors.
The lead was short-lived as Lindy Martin added a triple to center and a wild pitch scored three Lady Eagles to tie the game at 3.
Trailing 6-4, Salado then proceeded to put up a crooked number to take control of the game and charge ahead. During a seven-run inning, the Lady Eagles sent 11 hitters to the plate against Caldwell pitchers Daeghan Drgac and Micaela Olivrez.
UMHB commit Jenna Calder produced a run on a ground-rule double, Abbie James drove in a run when she singled and Martin hit a sacrifice fly. Caldwell committed four errors in the inning.
Tindell admitted the seven-run inning made her job a lot easier.
“It gave me a lot more energy whenever I needed it, because I knew that my teammates were going to have my back at the plate. Pitching after that lead allowed me to just play catch with my catcher and know that my defense was going to pick me up.”
In the fifth, the Lady Eagles added a run when Calder hit a sacrifice fly that proved to be the difference in the game.
However, Caldwell did not quit.
Entering the seventh, the Lady Hornets trailed 12-10 and after Tindell retired the first-two hitters, Emily Telg hit a home run to inch Caldwell closer. After a walk and a pair of wild pitches, Tindell did her job and left the tying run stranded at third.
Tindell pitched every pitch in both games for Salado in the blazing heat, and Craddick admitted that it takes a special person to be able to do exactly what the junior did.
“I can’t say enough about Bailey,” Craddick admitted. “She really came out and gave us everything today. Our backup, Rebecca (Dockray), was a little banged up. I really didn’t know if she would be able to pitch at all today, so I knew it was going to be in Bailey’s hands.”
“She competed pitch by pitch and you could tell by the last three innings that she was laboring at times, but really gutted it up and gave us her all in the end,” Craddick said.
To go along with Martin’s five-RBI day, Breigh Oliver and Elizabeth Ford each picked up two hits in the first game on the day, and in the finale, Piper Randolph and Oliver also collected multi-hit games. Calder added two doubles as well.
Martin admitted the team lost a lot of seniors last year, but still has players that can go deep into the playoffs.
“I actually think that this team is capable of doing a lot more that we think we are capable sometimes,” Martin said. We are a young team, so a lot of times we get underestimated, but our freshmen work extremely hard and so I am proud of all of them.
“Being a senior I think we can do big things, because I know we believe it and we have a lot of people who believe in us also,” she said.