Despite showing a familiar resiliency and grit, twice coming back to force extra innings and having multiple chances at victory, the McKinney Boyd softball team lost Game One of its bi-district, best-of-three playoff series to Wylie, 4-3, in 10 innings.
With Wylie consistently pitching around star senior shortstop Diana Murtha, Boyd could never consistently get big hits in clutch situations despite pounding out eight hits on the night. The Lady Broncos squandered a golden opportunity to scratch out a run in the bottom of the sixth inning after loading the bases with no outs, only to come away scoreless.
“We’ve just got to come out [on Friday] and play hard and empty out our bucket on the field,” said Maureen Fritz, Boyd head coach. “We came out slow, but I’m proud that once we settled in, we got into the groove of playing and embraced this stage. This is just Game One, and it didn’t go our way today, and we will just regroup and come back at them [on Friday].”
Count star sophomore pitcher Kinsey Kackley as one person who embraced the big stage even in defeat.
Although she walked two straight betters to begin the game, which led to Wylie’s first run, Kackley was able to settle down and showcase why she is blossoming into one of best sophomore players in the nation. On the mound, Kackley was her usual dominant self, striking out 24 batters while only allowing three hits and two earned runs and five walks.
She also made a big impact at the plate, going 3-of-5 on the night with two RBIs. With Boyd down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh, Kackley smoked a two-run home run over the right-field fence to send the game into extra innings while getting the biggest hit of her career so far.
Despite getting on base and getting thrown out at the plate to foil Boyd’s comeback attempt in the 10th inning, Kackley had as good of a postseason debut as anyone could script.
“I was definitely struggling to find myself in the first inning, but once I did in the second inning, it felt good just to play my game and help my team out,” Kackley said. “On the home run, I didn’t know it was out until I saw the outfielder stop running on the warning track and it felt good to get a big hit for our team. I know we will come back and play hard to get a win [on Friday] because we want to prove ourselves to all those people who have doubted us all season long.”
Kackley wasn’t the only Lady Bronco to have a big impact in her postseason debut, as Murtha did the same despite limited chances. Wylie walked Murtha intentionally three times to keep the bat out of the Boyd star’s hands, which led to her being on base in 4-of-5 plate appearances.
With frustration in the air at times, Murtha knows if her teammates keep plugging away there’s a good chance the tide will turn around for the Lady Broncos.
“I like our mentality we had today because we looked at it as just another game and it served us well and we will do that again [on Friday] while trying to find a way to tie things up,” Murtha said. “We are going to let this loss sink in a little bit and for the next two days it’s going to be all about winning and that’s all we are going to think about.”