BELTON — The Salado Lady Eagles competed with the No. 2 team in Class 4A for five innings, but in the end, Lorena showed why it is one of the best teams in the state.
A five-run sixth inning was the difference as the Lady Leopards ended Salado’s season with a 6-1 win Friday night at Dee Dillon Field on the campus of Mary Hardin-Baylor in a winner-take-all regional quarterfinal matchup.
Lorena pitcher Rachel Williams notched the win in the circle, pitching all seven innings, striking out eight and allowing just four hits.
“Lorena is a good team for a reason,” said Salado head coach Kory Craddick. “We came in and we really battled tonight. From hitters one to nine, you could see it in the girls’ eyes — they wanted to win this game. Unfortunately, the dominoes didn’t fall in our favor today.”
In the opening inning, after the first two Salado (28-10) hitters were retired, Jenna Calder smacked a double past the first baseman. The next batter, Chris Wilson, bounced a hard chopper over the shortstop to give the Lady Eagles (28-10) an early 1-0 lead.
Lorena (25-3-2) answered in the second inning when Breyanna Fincher doubled to deep center field to even the game at 1.
From there, Salado junior pitcher Bailey Tindell and Williams engaged in a duel for the majority of the game, trading zeroes on the scoreboard.
Tindell worked a 1-2-3 third and fourth inning thanks to some nice glove work by the Lady Eagles defense.
Center fielder Abbie James and second baseman Piper Randolph both contributed during the stretch with great defensive plays.
The tie was broken in the bottom of the sixth inning when the Lady Leopards sent nine batters to the plate, scoring five runs.
After the first two Lorena hitters singled, Williams lined a double to center to bring home a pair.
Damiana Longo doubled, and a Salado error led to the other three runs.
“Hats off to Lorena. The third time through the lineup they had Bailey’s number,” Craddick said. “Bailey really did an excellent job pitching tonight. There in the sixth inning after they scored two, we made a couple of errors that hurt us. We played hard, and that’s all I can ask of my team.”
The loss marked the final games for Calder and Lindy Martin. Martin did not play in the game due to an injury. Craddick admitted the loss of the pair will not be easy to overcome.
“I’ve been fortunate to watch Jenna and Lindy both grow up together. I remember them since they were back in the sixth grade. They both mean a lot to this program. They come in every day and set a great example to the other girls. Everything I preach about being a family, they have always bought into that.”
Offensively, the Lady Eagles were led by Calder, who reached base twice with a double and walk. Marissa Gonzalez also reached base twice. Rebecca Dockray also contributed with a double.
Salado advanced to the third round with nine sophomores on the roster.
“We have some potential over the next few years to have a lot of fun in Salado softball,” Craddick said.
“With the freshmen we had this year and the eighth-grade class upcoming, the sky is the limit for these girls. I will be intrigued to see what we can do in the next few years.”