THE COLONY – In a rematch of last year’s Class 5A Region I finals, The Colony and Little Elm squared off Tuesday night to begin District 8-5A action on the diamond.
Despite the Lady Lobos snagging an early lead, the Lady Cougars rallied with a monster seven-run fourth inning, which proved to be the difference in a 7-3 victory over Little Elm in district meeting No. 1 between the two juggernauts.
“These are two great teams, and it is always a dog fight with Little Elm,” said Deana Coleman, The Colony head coach. “You just hope you get the one ball that drops at the right time, and you want luck on your side in a game like this.”
Whether it was luck or not, the hit of the night came with two runners on and two out in the fourth inning with the Lady Cougars in the midst of a four-run explosion spearheaded by the bottom of the order.
That’s when The Colony senior designated player Jodee Duncan delivered the knockout punch with a three-run bomb over the left-field fence to give her squad a commanding 7-3 lead that it would hold the rest of the way against a potent Little Elm offense.
“That was huge and I’m so happy for [Duncan],” Coleman said. “She has been in these games plenty of times before and that experience really comes into play. She hit that one right on the nose and we’re all so proud of her.”
Although senior standouts Jayda Coleman and Jaycee Hamlin each drove in a run during the rally in the fourth, the damage started with the bottom of the order with freshmen Kaitlyn Moeller, Sidney Young and Madison Levsey all reaching base to set up the top of the lineup.
All in all, the Lady Cougars collected five hits, a walk and were hit by a pitch twice in the fourth after being held hitless by Little Elm superstar pitcher Lauren Lucas through the first three innings.
“Lauren is an awesome competitor, awesome kid and an awesome athlete,” coach Coleman said. “We knew it was going to be tough against her, but we had luck on our side tonight.”
Outside of the forgetful fourth inning, Lucas was lights-out in the circle with seven strikeouts and was even more dominant at the plate with a two-hit performance, which included a two-run single in the top of the second.
But similar to The Colony’s outpour of runs a couple of innings later, Little Elm also got its jumpstart in scoring from its go-to freshmen at the bottom of the lineup.
Following a walk by senior center fielder Alyssa Adams to begin the second inning, freshman first baseman Cadence Hernandez smacked a single to left-center field before freshman third baseman D’Kota Gibbs drove in Adams on a fielder’s choice two batters later.
Freshman left fielder Krysten Moran, who joined just Gibbs and Lucas with multi-hit performances on the night, then reached on a costly error to help set up the Lucas two-run single moments later.
“Our freshmen are key and we knew that going in,” said Jill Miller, Little Elm head coach. “We got fired up after that and got them in a hole early. That’s a huge deal to get three runs like that early and put them on their heels a little bit. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalize on that and there were times where we could have swung the bats a little bit better.”
While leading 3-0 in the top of the third, a familiar trio in Adams, Gibbs and Moran loaded the bases with three singles only for Jayda Coleman to get out of the jam with a key strikeout over Melissa Ocasio to end the threat.
In the sixth, the Lady Lobos loaded the bases once again following walks drawn by Lucas, Hernandez and Adams, but the Oklahoma signee once again came through with another massive strikeout to escape unscathed.
Then after Gibbs and Moran each reached base on back-to-back hits in the seventh, Jayda Coleman retired the side to close out a complete-game effort with eight strikeouts and just one earned run in the triumph.
“We need to improve moving forward on hitting with two outs and runners in scoring position,” Miller said. “It’s really hard to win ball games when you strikeout with the bases loaded.”