By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – Emily Leib was exhausted.
She had just completed her 15th inning in a matter of three hours and didn't want to toe the rubber again.
So, as she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with the Lady Hornets deadlocked 0-0 with rival Lorena, Leib took matters into her own hands – and drilled the first pitch she saw over the left-center field wall for a walk-off two-run shot and a 2-0 victory.
"I was (thinking), I don't want to pitch another inning – it was the 15th one (in a row Saturday)," said the exasperated Leib, who grinned from ear-to-ear around the bases before teammates swarmed her at home plate. "It was an inside pitch and I'm really happy I hit one over."
Thanks to Leib's first home run since her freshman season, Gatesville catapulted over Lorena to claim the Division II championship, winning the second annual Cen-Tex Hit-N-Run Classic for the second consecutive season.
"It felt really good because we weren't hitting the ball. Well we were, but we were just kind of chipping away at it, so it felt good to just kind of finish it," Leib said.
Both Gatesville (13-4) and No. 15 Lorena finished division play tied with a 5-1 record, but the Lady Hornets took home the title because of the two-run differential against the Lady Leopards was greater than any of Lorena's single-run victories.
"It's huge, confidence-wise," said Gatesville coach Michelle Edwards. "It's a young team with a new mixture of girls, and it helps out with confidence in each other and confidence that they can come out with some big wins."
While Leib got it done with her bat on Saturday, it was her consistent right arm that carried Gatesville to its five wins – the lone defeat being a 6-2 loss to Lampasas on Friday while Leib rested after pitching all eight innings of a 4-3 victory over Wolfforth Frenship the game before.
"You've got to give (Leib) a lot of credit because she brings a lot of poise on the mound, and if you watch her, she never changes her facial expressions and she's always ready to go," said Edwards. "She's the type of kid that wants the ball in her hands at all times and she does well under pressure."
Throwing 35 innings – which included a pair of back-to-back games – spanning the three days, Leib struck out 57 batters for an average of 11.4 per contest while allowing just three earned runs the entire tournament.
Gatesville 4, Liberty Hill 2 – With three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, after opening the frame with three consecutive singles, the Lady Hornets made amends for two errors that led to two unearned runs in the top of the fourth.
Gatesville's Jaycee Summers and Leib opened the sixth with back to back singles, cleanup hitter Shelby Watson knocked in Summers on a single of her own while Leib scored on a sacrifice from Amber Colson in the following at bat. Watson scored two batters later on a fielder's choice by Paige Chambers.
Lampasas 7, Brownwood 6, 9 inn. – Hadley Brown had a walk-off, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Lady Badgers evened up their tournament record at 3-3 for the weekend.
Knotted at 5-5 entering the top of the ninth after both teams scored two runs in the first inning of the international tie breaker, Lampasas loaded the bases with a bunt and a walk before Brown came through with the heroics.
Kallen Vann finished 3-for-5 while Tealey Farquhar, Marissa Bogart and Madison Morris each added RBI singles.
Frenship 4, Lampasas 0 – Limited to just three hits, the Lady Badgers were never able to get much going offensively as Frenship took advantage of a spot start from Lampasas' No. 2 pitcher Kady Crow.
Magnolia 5, Belton 1 – One game after exploding for 11 runs, the Lady Tigers' hitting woes re-emerged as Magnolia touched up starter Ashley Cook for five runs combined over the fifth and sixth innings.
Following an inning-opening error on a pop fly to shallow center field in the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Bulldogs scored on three straight RBI singles by Victoria Birdwell, Katy Adar and Ariel Hovis to take a 3-1 lead.
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or (254) 501-7566.