The Reedy softball team utilized timely hitting and capitalized on costly miscues in a pivotal showdown on the diamond Monday night against Lone Star.
The Lions escaped with a 5-2 victory at the hands of the Lady Rangers to remain just one game back of first-place Centennial with five outings left on the docket.
On the other hand, Lone Star remains one game back of the fourth and final playoff spot in District 9-5A following the loss, and head coach Tom Thuman knows just how critical this final stretch is in making the postseason.
“We have to take care of our business from here on out and can’t afford anymore losses,” he said. “We have to go 5-0 to finish the season.”
Errors proved to be the name of the game, as four of Reedy’s five runs were unearned, including two in the bottom of the first that helped set the tone early.
Back-to-back errors by the Lone Star infield put runners at the corners with nobody out for junior shortstop Maia Wark, who wasted little time in driving in the game’s first run on a groundout to short. With cleanup hitter and sophomore pitcher Micaela Wark batting next, a wild pitch brought home sophomore second baseman Toni Mcinnis to make it 2-0.
“It’s huge to jump on a team like that early,” said Brooke Cline, Reedy head coach. “I told them not every ball hit has to be a base hit, but if we continue to put balls in play hard like that then it’ll make them have to play defense. Things like errors can happen and we can produce runs that way without having to always hit the ball 300 feet.”
However, Cline’s crew was able to crush a pitch nearly 300 feet that padded the Reedy lead in the third inning after Lone Star junior catcher Megan Lundt knocked in an RBI single in the second.
Mcinnis, who led off the bottom of the third with her squad hanging on to a 2-1 advantage, came through with the Lions’ only earned run of the contest when she belted a solo home run over the right-field fence to add some insurance to the lead.
“That hit was huge,” Cline said. “Most of the time, she’s in that two-hole spot to move runners or get a base hit, but it was good for her to get up there and swing it a little bit.”
Reedy’s bats cooled off the rest of the way with just two hits from that point forward, but the Lions made them count. Maia Wark racked up her second RBI of the night in the fifth on a double down the left-field line to score Mcinnis from first, who reached on an error.
The lead then extended to four at 5-1 when a dropped fly ball in the outfield two batters later resulted in Wark scoring from third.
Despite picking up the loss, Lone Star senior starter Mary Grace McKenzie allowed just four hits and struck out three in six innings of work in the circle after giving up just one earned run.
Another bright spot in the defeat for the Lady Rangers came from a rising star in the program in freshman shortstop Autumn Benavides, who crushed a solo shot to lead off the sixth from the seventh spot in the order.
“[Benavides] is going to be a heck of a ball player for me,” Thuman said. “She is the first shortstop I’ve had in about five years, and I’m excited to have her. The sad thing is she is also a good pitcher, but I need a shortstop right now.”
Lone Star will look to bounce back Saturday at home against Liberty, while Reedy takes on Centennial in a showdown for first place.