MIDLOTHIAN — Two games in District 8-4A had passed for both Midlothian Heritage and Life Waxahachie High Schools and both were winless.
The Jaguars' performance, though, put the emphasis on the operative phrase "were winless."
Midlothian Heritage earned its season's first district win against Life Waxahachie on Monday at Jaguar Softball Field after run-ruling the Lady Mustangs during a 13-3 victory.
It didn't hurt that six of the Jaguars' 13 runs were scored in the first inning.
"We scored six runs in the first inning but [Alexis Spears] kept off balance all game," said Waylon Whitney, the MHHS head softball coach, said about the Lady Mustangs' ace. "If we didn't have that big inning I think it becomes a tie ball game. I think [the Jaguars] learned how important intensity and focus matters. I think when you have a big lead sometimes it's human nature to let up a bit. That type of mentality can let teams creep back in and get you into trouble."
Midlothian Heritage's game-winning sprint may have been sparked by Makenna Anderson's double and Danielle Seimears two-run scoring sacrifice fly but Jordan Freas and Rachael Gray capped the run with back-to-back steals and eventual scores.
Gray, who helped frame a masterful mound performance for Gracie Lenzer, made sure her bat spoke volumes, too. She led the Jaguars at the plate and went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs.
She even muttered a valiant "that's how you run the bases" after tossing her batting helmet to the floor confidently in the dugout. It was also after she singled in the sixth inning, advanced on a Lenzer walk, stole third base and beat the throw after bolting for home on a Jessica Hershey ground ball.
Anderson and Gracie Larkin were the other two Jaguars with a multiple hit game, logging two and one RBI apiece. Every Jaguar tallied at least one hit except two players and four had two or more RBI.
Lenzer, the starting pitcher, struck out nine batters, walked one and allowed three runs on two hits with 98 pitches. She is now 5-5 on the season with a 2.368 ERA.
While the Jaguars found their stride, first-year head coach Telina Chavez and Life Waxahachie softball continued their slow and steady growth. The Lady Mustangs lost their third straight game by double digits after falling 20-0 to Stephenville High School on Feb. 28, 15-0 against Glen Rose High School on March 7 and 6-5 to Venus High School on March 10.
"That was a game that shouldn't have been run-ruled and that we should have won," she said. "If we would have played fundamental softball, we'd have done something better. You can't give up 10 errors and expect to win, especially when six of those are scoring errors. They're still adjusting to my expectations, but it's a slow process and a mentality we're trying to change."
Spears, a first-year pitcher, threw 88 pitches, allowed 13 hits and committed eight errors. The Lady Mustangs committed nine fielding errors. Chavez said she was familiar with Life Waxahachie's style of play when she faced them in District 12-3A as Maypearl High School's coach last year.
"They're fighters," she said. "This is a tough district and their first year in 4A. That team would have laid down last year if a team scored six runs in the first inning. This team didn't give up and kept fighting."
The Mustangs did, however, mount rallies in the third and fifth innings, scoring one run each with the help of a Spears' steal and score on a wild pitch and after Shannon Ainsworth reached on an error and scored on a Brianna Fite sacrifice RBI.
Spears, who finished 2-for-3 at the plate, had both of Life Waxahachie's hits. The Lady Mustangs only accumulated her two hits in 23 at-bats.
Life Waxahachie will look to go into the meat of their spring break schedule with a win when they face Alvarado High School at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Lady Mustang Field. The (2-0) Lady Indians beat the Jaguars 17-0 on March 7 and are scheduled to face Godley High School on Tuesday.
Midlothian Heritage will face first-place and undefeated Stephenville High School at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Honey Bee Field. Stephenville has outscored its three district opponents — Life Waxahachie, Glen Rose and Venus — 50-0.
"We started a little slow but my expectations this year are a lot higher," Whitney said. "They're going to have to learn that. Gracie performed well and we've really been talking to her about throwing that change to keep the batters off balance. I think If we had a couple of better plays in the field it would have been a better ballgame on the defensive side. It all starts with pitching and our defense is better with her in the circle. Our defense is doing its job and errors — they scored two runs off our six — are going to happen. They need to be limited, though, and when you make them you have to come back from them."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.