RIO VISTA, Texas — On Friday, the Lady Bulldogs were reeling from a 15-run loss to Corsicana Mildred High School.
Five days later, they used six hits and pitching brilliance to weave their way back into the title conversation.
Behind the mound performance of Teryn Pritchett and triples by Payton "JoJo" Davidson and Sierra Stone, Palmer High School beat Rio Vista High School 4-1 Tuesday at Lady Eagle Field.
It also came despite 13 strikeouts from Tayler Edwards.
"Their pitcher was on last night and she did a good job of hitting her spots," said Korey Plough, the PHS head softball coach. "We were able to take advantage of some key situations with runners on, though, and our defense made a couple of big double plays. Teryn pitching well and only giving up one hit gave us the time we needed to get ourselves going offensively."
Holding Rio Vista's explosive lineup to a single hit by Kailey Reese, a Henderson State University commit and a former All-District and All-Johnson County selection, didn't hurt, either.
Pritchett struck out seven batters and walked only two and allowed a single run and hit in seven innings with 108 pitches. Sixty-nine percent of those 100-plus pitches were strikes.
While Pritchett's arm limited the Lady Eagles to seven quality at-bats from Reese (2), Jackie Cox, Stormi Matthews, Sarah Odom, Miranda Petty and Britney Stetson, and the Lady Bulldog defense — despite four total errors — stole away line drive after line drive with diving stabs and game-saving defensive stops.
Rio Vista didn't commit a single error in the field.
One came during a Courtney Chapman to Cayden Critchfield first inning double play that came moments after Rio Vista struck first after Reese scored on an error. The two-out swing stranded Shawna McClanahan at second base.
Another came after Stetson grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to Critchfield to Chapman — the Lady Eagles' best chance in the game's late innings to close that three-run gap and earn a victory.
The Lady Bulldogs' bats and base running, however, had just as much an impact.
"We're always thinking about the next pitch instead of dwelling on the previous one," Pritchett said about her team's at-the-plate approach. "You can't change the past but do better in the future. When we did get on, we had an aggressive nature in base running. Jojo did well at that as did I despite our team leaving runners on a lot — which will hurt us if we don't find a way to fix it. Our aggressive base running and quickness, though, was what got us the runs we needed to win."
The Lady Bulldogs stole 10 bases courtesy of Davidson (4), Pritchett (4), Chapman and Coffey. Two of those steals helped account for two runs — nearly the difference between the two teams on the scoreboard after the final out.
"Our defense was great and the infield was tough. Not much got past them," Pritchett said. "That helped tremendously. We're finally figuring out how to work as a team and everything is starting to click. We pick up each other's slack. When one hitter isn't doing well, another will step up. Our offense still needs some work, but it's getting the job done. We have Grandview (High School), which will be a challenge and show our character, but we can do anything we put our mind to."
The Lady Bulldogs are tied for third place with Blooming Grove High School behind second place Corsicana Mildred and first place Grandview, which is the No. 11 3A softball team in the state per the Texas Girls Coaches Association.
Palmer will face the undefeated Lady Zebras at 6 p.m. Friday at Lady Bulldog Field. Grandview (18-5, 5-0) has won its last five games and outscored Archer City, Blooming Grove, Keene, Mildred and Rio Vista High Schools 53-6.
One of their biggest wins during that stretch came after a 12-2 win on the road against Corsicana Mildred on March 7.
"We know, in every district game, every run counts and have to be able to capitalize with runners in scoring position," Plough said. "We still left to many runners on and had some errors that we usually don't make. The girls played hard and got the job done. We just have to continue to work hard and improve every day."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.