By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – If the Gatesville Lady Hornets have any hopes of defending last year's championship at the Cen-Tex Hit-N-Run Classic, they know they're going to need the strong right arm of senior Emily Leib.
That's why, after Leib pitched all eight innings of a 4-3 extra-inning victory over Wolfforth Frenship, Gatesville coach Michelle Edwards didn't even hesitate to rest her ace against Lampasas, which the Lady Badgers beat handily 6-2 in six innings Friday in the second annual edition of the Belton-hosted softball tournament.
"We've been riding on Emily's arm for the last 13, 14, 15 ball games, so it's nice to see what some of the younger girls can do and this was a good game to do it, and also give the girls a rest and get ready for tomorrow," Edwards said.
Jumping out on Lady Hornets' No. 2 starter Ashley Cook, Lampasas scored all six of its runs over the first three innings, taking full advantage of Leib's absence for 10 hits.
The Lady Badgers (8-6) struck first for two runs on four hits in the bottom of the first as Lampasas' first three batters all reached on singles. Clean-up hitter Marissa "Rizzo" Bogart then sacrificed in a run, while Kady Crow singled in another two batters later.
Lampasas didn't let up offensively, scoring another run in the second and three in the third, giving left-hander Taylor Holloman – who has pitched 24 consecutive innings – all the support she needed.
"Really, I needed them to help pick me up and help me out when I was getting weaker – I just needed them to back me up the whole game, and they did that," Holloman said, admitting her arm began to tire late against the Lady Hornets.
Gatesville (11-4) scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning off a one-out single from No. 2 hitter Jaycee Summers, but the young Lady Hornets couldn't manage anything more against Holloman, who struck out six and allowed just two hits.
Gatesville 4, Frenship 3, 8 inn. – Locked in a 0-0 pitcher's duel at the end of regulation, the Lady Hornets' bats broke the deadlock with four runs in the top of the eighth.
"It's huge. You saw the energy in the dugout change, the energy on the field change, and I don't think with that kind of energy that anybody could have come back to beat us," Edwards said.
Leib, who had held Frenship to just two hits through the first seven innings, got out of a stressful eighth only allowing one hit – a three-RBI double. But as the baserunner tried to advance, catcher Amber Colson's throw nailed her at third and Gatesville got out of a bases-loaded jam with the victory.
Lorena 3, Lampasas 2, 8 inn. – Taking advantage of two Lady Badgers in the top of the eighth inning, Lorena edged Lampasas 2-1 in the final frame for the victory, its second over the Lady Badgers in as many days,
Knotted up at 1-1 at the end of seven innings, after both teams scored in the fifth, Lampasas managed just one run on a sacrifice by Bogart, who knocked in Kallen Vann from second after starting the inning there under the international tie-breaker rules.
Celina 5, Belton 3 – Unable to match Celina's fifth-inning effort, the Lady Tigers lost their fifth straight game Friday, including starting 0-3 in their own tournament.
With four straight hits to begin the fifth, including a bases-clearing triple, Celina jumped on Belton pitcher Allison Boston early for four runs while the Lady Tigers could only manage a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame. Boston took the loss allowing 10 hits and all five runs.
Belton 11, Pflugerville Hendrickson 4 – After struggling with their bats for much of the tournament, the host Lady Tigers finally busted out with a five-run second inning to roll over Hendrickson for their first victory in the last six games.
Starting off with a one-out triple by Amber Peters, the next six Belton runners reachd base, capping the huge inning with back-to-back RBI doubles by Madison Moore and Kristi Moose. The Lady Tigers added two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, with Moose coming through with a two-RBI double in the fourth to finish 2-for-3 with four RBIs.