GATESVILLE Second place was the more desirable spot, but third isn't unfamiliar territory to the Gatesville Hornets.
China Spring took advantage of a sixth-inning error Saturday, pushing across two runs while starter Stephanie Roberts tossed a two-hit gem in the 2-0 win at Gatesville in a second-place playoff. Gatesville beat China Spring 1-0 on Tuesday to force the extra game.
Gatesville (23-10) will open its playoff run against Burnet, the 8-3A runner-up. The two will play a best-of-three, bi-district series starting at 7 p.m. Friday at Gatesville. Game two is 3 p.m. Saturday at Burnet, with the third game to follow, if necessary. China Spring (24-10) will play Llano or Leander Rouse in the bi-district round, with the winner then receiving a second-round bye and automatic berth to the 3A region quarterfinals. Also favoring China Spring as the second seed is how the Region I bracket fills out.
Gatesville falls to the bottom half of the bracket, the same as 7-3A champion West, which is also ranked fourth in the latest state poll. No. 9 Burkburnett, No. 19 Lubbock Cooper and No. 25 Seminole are also on the same side.
But Gatesville was in the same situation a year ago, when it reached the state semifinals.
'That's what I just got done telling the girls," Edwards said. "I said, 'I hate losing and there's nothing worse than losing to China Spring, but this is exactly what happened to us last year.' We got that third-place seed and they kind of took off from there."
Gatesville lost its regular-season finale a year ago to fall into third place, but turned around and beat five playoff teams, including a 4-1 win over West, which swept the Hornets during the year.
"Maybe it's good luck to be the third-place seed," Edwards said.
The Hornets struggled against Roberts all night, managing only a first-inning Megan Chambers single and another from Skye Truss in the fifth. Chambers reached third base and Gatesville put runners on the corners with two outs in the opening inning, but Roberts got a flyball out ended the threat.
Gatesville had just one more base runner Truss but Roberts struck out Amber Colson and Lauren Nichols to leave the sophomore stranded at second base.
"Stephanie Roberts pitched amazing tonight," Edwards said. "She looked like she was throwing about five miles, six miles an hour faster than what she threw the other night. And even faster than she threw in the first and second innings.
"She was humming it. We put the ball in play a little bit, but I thought we let too many good pitches go by and swung at a lot of bad pitches."
China Spring, which managed just two hits off Gatesville ace Emily Leib on Tuesday, finished with six, registering a hit in five of six innings. Lady Cougar Christina Ochoa said her team's biggest adjustment was laying off Leib's riseball. Leib struck out 15 on Tuesday, but just six Saturday.
In the sixth, Brooke Clark and Roberts had back-to-back singles with one out. Sabrina Guzman followed, hitting a grounder back to Leib. She tried to force out Clark at third base, but the throw went low and got away from Truss, allowing Clark to score and moving the runners to third and second base.
The next batter, Chelsea Kent, hit a flyball to left field that would have been the third out, but instead brought Roberts home.
"That's playoff situations," Ochoa said. "You get to two tough teams and it's who's going to crumble first and jumping on the opportunities."