COPPELL—A high school softball team doesn't reach mid-May with an undefeated record by accident.
And for all the heroics that have encompassed a rebound year for Plano West, state-ranked Denton Guyer was a step ahead at seemingly every turn in Thursday's one-game regional quarterfinal. The Lady Wildcats were on the scoreboard just three batters into the evening and strengthened their hold on the contest with each passing inning en route to an 8-0 victory from the Coppell Baseball and Softball Complex.
Guyer improved to 33-0 on the year, punching their ticket to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2010. The Lady Wolves were making their first third-round appearance since 2017.
"We knew we had to play a pretty flawless game to get a win. We hoped we'd be able to jump on them early and score some runs, and we did some good things early," said Mike Ledsome, West head coach. "We got some people on base and were hitting the ball, but we just couldn't get a run across the board."
The Lady Wildcats had plenty to do with that, leaning on the arm of freshman pitcher Finley Montgomery and a defense that made all manner of highlight stops to snuff out any sustained offensive by the Lady Wolves.
West was limited to just three hits on the night, with senior Adayah Wallace, sophomore Elyse Mikes and sophomore Kaaya Mehta all singling. The Lady Wolves totaled just seven base-runners in the loss.
West put a pair on base with one out in both the second and seventh innings, but Guyer's defense responded with a double play on each occasion — including a nifty flip of the ball from second baseman Kaylynn Jones to spark a 4-6-3 sequence to finish off the win.
Guyer's offense was just as potent, striking for 13 hits and capitalizing on a trio of West errors to swell the lead over the back half of the ballgame. The Lady Wolves stayed within striking distance at just 2-0 through three innings, but the Lady Wildcats ballooned their cushion with five runs between the fifth and sixth stanzas.
The top five hitters in the Guyer lineup combined for 10 hits on the night, led by a 4-of-4, two-RBI effort from Jordan Osborne.
"We made some uncharacteristic plays defensively, but that's what good teams do—they put that kind of pressure on you," Ledsome said. "They did and we just didn't make the plays we needed to and we didn't hit enough."
It was a hard-luck end to a bounce-back year for the Lady Wolves, who turned consecutive seventh-place finishes in 6-6A into a district championship. West finished off the year at 27-10, including a stretch of 12 consecutive wins heading into Thursday's regional quarterfinal.
"Coming off two years when not much good was happening and to have a turnaround like we did, that's a heck of a win in itself," Ledsome said. "It's a win for our program and just a testament to our seniors. They had been through the bad stuff and you never know that affects them when they get to their senior years and they were determined to not let it happen again."
Ledsome shifted the credit to the trio of seniors Brooke Hilton, Madison Strayhorn and Wallace for helping right the ship with the Lady Wolves. Wallace (Texas) and Hilton (Texas A&M-Commerce) are four-year starters who will go on to play softball in college.
"The credit goes to the seniors for how they got the girls on board, made them a team and developed a team. The rest was easy—we coached them up after that and they listened and worked hard," Ledsome said.
Although the contributions of that trio loom large, the Lady Wolves could very well bring back every other part of their district championship lineup next season, including seven starters and both pitchers deployed in Thursday's game in juniors Carra Cleaves and MC Pollacia.
"It's valuable experience. You hate it for the seniors for what they've meant to this program ... but this is big for us," Ledsome said. "They should come back stronger and feel like they're capable of getting it for the seniors that just graduated. All this experience is going to help us, there's no doubt about that."
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