Frisco Heritage sophomore Kailey Sweezey had to settle for a long single off the center field wall during her first at-bat in Wednesday’s playoff opener against The Colony.
Sweezey hit the ball just a little further the next two times that she stepped in the batter’s box. She crushed a solo home run and then hit a three-run home run in the top of the fifth.
Sweezey’s three-run blast was part of a six-run fifth inning for Heritage as the Coyotes rallied from an early 4-1 deficit to defeat the Lady Cougars, 9-4.
"She's got a powerful swing, a long swing," said Tim O’Brien, Heritage head coach. "She goes through and gets hold of it. She is second on the team in home runs. Like with any hitter, she had a slump. I just told her, 'Shorten your swing. Get compact.' Looking at it tonight, we knew that their pitching was something that she could feast on."
Things weren’t looking so good for the Coyotes.
The Colony offense was the one doing the feasting. Sophomore Kaitlyn Moeller fouled off four straight pitches before lining a two-run double to the center field wall in the bottom of the first inning to give the Lady Cougars a quick 2-0 lead.
Heritage got one of those runs back in the second on Sweezey’s long single, but The Colony’s offense continued to put pressure on the Coyotes.
In the bottom of the second, Lady Cougar freshman Allyson Acosta hit an RBI single through a hole on the right side of the field and sophomore Payton Blanco added a run-scoring hit of her own moments later to increase the advantage to 4-1.
While the Lady Cougars were grinding out runs on their home field, the Coyotes were trying to overcome a case of the nerves. O’Brien felt like his team was pressing. He attributed it his team having only one player with previous playoff experience. Senior Riley Lunsford was on the 2018 squad that played in their first-ever playoff game.
All it took for those nerves to be squashed was a solo home run by Sweezey. The Coyote sophomore clubbed a ball into the netting over the center field wall in the top of the fourth. Sweezey’s hit cut the Lady Cougar advantage to 4-3. Lunsford clubbed an RBI double one inning prior.
Heritage seized control in the fifth. The Coyotes plated six runs to take the lead for good. Heritage junior Sarah Hagan had the go-ahead RBI single that prompted a pitching change for The Colony. A short time later, Sweezey’s three-run home run gave the Coyotes a commanding 8-4 lead.
“I knew that we were just tight and you could see it in their faces,” O’Brien said. “They were just tight and tense and trying too hard. I finally just got on them a little bit and told them to settle in, and we relaxed. Sweezey hit that home run, and I think that it just kind of relaxed everyone. It was like, 'Okay, we're in this. Let do what we do.'"
The Colony stranded eight base runners over the final five innings. Credit Heritage sophomore pitcher Jensin Hall, who worked through run-scoring opportunities for The Colony and held the Lady Cougars off the board from the third inning on.
“She's the definition of grit in the circle," O'Brien said. "She doesn't like to lose at all. She kind of tends to bear down and she likes for me to yell at her to get her going. She did good."
Game two is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Heritage (15-4). If necessary, a third game would be played at noon Saturday at The Colony (10-14-2).