LAMPASAS This is why she came back.
After sitting out the last three years trying to focus on volleyball, Lampasas senior Hailey Morrison returned to the diamond eager to make a difference.
Friday night, she got her opportunity. After a wild pitch from Salado starter Shyenne Hicks allowed fellow Lady Badgers senior Tealey Farquhar to score from third, Morrison opened the floodgates with a bases-clearing double off the left-center field wall as Lampasas scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning in an 8-5 victory Friday at Badger Field.
"I just have that competitive spirit. I don't want to lose, and I don't want the ball to hit the ground it's the same thing in volleyball," Morrison said. "You just got to have that drive and you just have to want it, you can't let your teammates down."
The victory sets up a winner-takes-all showdown Tuesday against fellow District 25-3A leader Liberty Hill, which edged Lampasas 9-6 late last month.
After Morrison's two-run double, the Lady Badgers bookended a pair of outs around a walk for Kelsi Gilseth before Tori Caruthers singled in Morrison to lead 4-0.
But the bleeding didn't stop there.
A walk to No. 9 hitter Blake Webb loaded the bases for Farquhar (3-for-4), who singled to right to score Gilseth, and set up a two-run single up the middle from Kady Crow to plate Caruthers and Webb for a 7-0 lead.
"Usually when you jump on somebody like that and you just step on their throat like that and it's 7-0 in the first inning, you just ruin their hopes and spirits," Farquhar said.
Feeling pretty comfortable with a seven-run advantage, Crow settled in on the mound for Lampasas (21-7, 7-1), allowing one earned run a fifth-inning home run by Hicks in the complete-game effort.
"I was like, 'OK, (it's) in the bag,'" said Crow.
The only problem with that thinking was the Lady Eagles (16-9, 3-5 25-3A), who are still in the hunt for the third and final playoff seed following Tuesday's upset of Burnet, weren't going quietly.
Wasting little time, Salado got on the board when Hicks (2-for-4) scored on an error by Caruthers in right field, but that was all it could muster despite loading the bases twice.
The third was a little kinder to the Lady Eagles, who scored three runs on three hits, including a two-run single by Josie Norman that cut the lead to 7-4.
Salado senior Kaitlyn Moseley, who replaced Hicks with two outs in the first, kept the Lady Eagles in the game, holding Lampasas without a run between the second and sixth innings before Alex Caruthers singled home Hadley Brown.
Outside of Hick's fifth-inning solo bomb, Crow settled down, only surrendering a fifth-inning single to Reagan Best before an infield single by Norman loaded the bases in the seventh inning for Salado.
But once again, the Lady Eagles couldn't take advantage with the bases loaded, as Kori Norman watched helplessly as Crow's eighth offering of the at-bat grazed the outside corner for a game-ending strikeout.
"I told the girls they had to win all three (of their final games) to keep our fate in our own hands, and now we don't," said Salado coach Amanda Hibbs. "So we have to go and win two and beg for other people to lose."
With two games left, the Lady Badgers are in the exact opposite position, needing to simply win Tuesday to be crowned district champions.
Nevertheless, Lampasas coach Rusty Erwin sympathized with the Lady Eagles.
"It's night and day," he said. "I've been in that place ... and usually it doesn't happen. So we're glad to be where we're at because I'd hate to be where they are."