PLANO — The Allen softball team might as well have been swinging at a beach ball during Tuesday’s District 9-6A opener against Plano Senior.
The Lady Eagles came within one run and one hit of matching their season-high output in both categories — erupting for 11 runs on 15 hits to pace an 11-1 road rout of the Lady Wildcats in a bout that required just six innings before the run rule was invoked.
“It’s what we’re capable of offensively. We know that and understand it. It’s one phase of our team that we have a lot of confidence in,” said Philip Spaniel, Allen head coach. “We get up there looking for good pitches and good counts, and just looking to put good swings on it. When we do that, and go into the box with the right mindset and looking to attack, we’re capable of that.”
Tuesday might have been the team’s most effective showcase of that mentality yet. The Lady Eagles needed just four innings to reach double-digit runs, doing so on an array of extra-base hits through every pore of the Plano defense. Even grounders had an extra zip on them, causing Plano at times to fumble fielding the ball before Allen managed to beat out a throw to first base.
It all came to a head in the third inning as the Lady Eagles punched up seven runs on seven hits, dealing 12 batters and forcing a Plano pitching change along the way. By the time head coach Justin Pipak made the switch from senior Audrey McNeill to junior Mackenzie Ridley, the Lady Wildcats were staring at an 8-1 deficit.
In between, the Lady Eagles posted 11 hits off the Plano ace — including doubles from junior Alexis Telford, sophomore Brooklyn Purtell and senior Lauren Lopez — to pace the barrage. Lopez went 3-of-4 in the win, while senior Ashley Easley mixed in a big night from the plate as well with four singles on five at-hats.
“You don’t want to overthink hitting — it’s a pretty simple deal,” Spaniel said. ”Get a good pitch to hit, and our approach is to be aggressive. When you get a good pitch, take advantage of it. We don’t want to overthink the situation there.”
Eight different Lady Eagles logged hits in the win, with junior Mackenzie Duckworth punctuating the rout with a solo home run in the sixth inning for the eventual 11-1 final.
“They freakin’ hit the ball. They couldn’t miss,” said Justin Pipak, Plano head coach. “I thought when we scored one in the first that we could get rolling. I don’t know if it was Audrey not hitting her spots, but the credit goes to Allen. If you get 15 hits, it doesn’t matter. They stroked the ball tonight.”
Dealt their first double-digit loss since 2015, the Lady Wildcats were at their best early on — sophomore Bella Bishop and senior Cate Bade recorded hits within Plano’s first three at-bats, with Bade’s single into center field scoring Bishop for a quick 1-0 lead.
That hit would be the Lady Wildcats’ last of the ballgame, putting just three more players on base while being held to just two hits opposite Telford, who struck out five and walked one over six innings of work in the circle.
“I don’t want the girls to think of it so much as doing it against Plano, but just thinking of it as if this is who we are,” Spaniel said. “We can only control who we are. We can’t control our opponent, so we have to play our game and do the things we know how to do to win a game. The opponent doesn’t matter to us, but we just have to control who we are.”
The Lady Eagles look to keep their momentum rolling at 7 p.m. Thursday for a home tilt against McKinney, while Plano look to reset for a road tilt that same night against Plano West.
“We know a game like this isn’t us,” Pipak said. “This is pretty much the same exact team as last year and we lost so many games by one or two runs last year. Something I talked about going into this season was that games like that defined us last year, and we can’t get a game like this do the same.
“It’s early and we still have 11 more district games to go, and we had played well up until tonight, so we just have to reset and flush it.”