TEMPLE — Lake Belton delivered some pop in the pitcher’s circle and batter’s box Thursday night and now has a lead in its Class 4A best-of-three area-round playoff series over Robinson to show for it.
Shelby Schultz struck out 16 batters in a complete game one-hitter while getting run support in the form of three towering home runs in the Lady Broncos’ 4-1 victory over the Lady Rockets in Game 1 at Bronco Diamond.
“Just super proud of the way they competed tonight,” said Lake Belton head coach Matt Blackburn, whose squad looks to close out the series in Game 2 at 6 tonight in Robinson.
Madison Lux led off Lake Belton’s second inning with her first of two solo home runs to give the Lady Broncos (26-5) a 1-0 lead.
After the Lady Rockets (14-13-1) tied it at 1 in the top of the third, Casey Schultz sent a 3-1 pitch from Robinson’s Emma Brignac over the wall in right-center in the bottom half of the frame to put Lake Belton ahead to stay.
Lux’s second home run — her eighth this season — was skied over the tall wall in center to start the sixth inning and pad the advantage to 4-1.
“The infield was moving a lot and I could tell what pitch she was going to throw. I was just waiting on it and kept my head down — made sure I was really thinking about my mechanics since I’ve been struggling the past few games,” Lux said of her 2-for-3 evening.
Shelby Schultz improved to 19-3 in the circle with an efficient outing that featured stretches of four and five straight strikeouts.
“My curveball and my changeup were my best pitches tonight. I missed maybe one, but it wasn’t a bad miss because they didn’t get a hit off of it,” Shelby Schultz said.
She struck out the side in the second and fourth innings and carried a no-hitter into the seventh that was broken up by Haley Holmes’ one-out single.
“Lights out,” Blackburn said of his left-hander’s outing. “I mean, when you talk about playoff pitching performances that’s exactly what you want to see.”
With her team down 1-0, Robinson’s Kendyl Lashombe reached on an error with one out in the third to break up a streak of four strikeouts in a row by Schultz and promptly stole second to get in scoring position. Lashombe then stole third and scored on an error to even the contest at 1-all.
Schultz retired the next 11 in a row before a dropped third strike allowed one runner to reach and Holmes’ single gave the Lady Rockets two on with one out in their last at-bat. Schultz induced a fielder’s choice groundout and her final strikeout to seal the win.