WAXAHACHIE — Two games in two days may have painted a picture of the roller coaster-like nature of the Lady Indians' up-and-down 2017 softball season.
Twenty-four hours from knocking off Mansfield Lake Ridge High School, which was vying for the district lead, the Lady Indians fell 5-3 to Mansfield Summit Saturday at Lady Indian Field.
Waxahachie (8-13, 2-5) vaulted into fifth place in District 10-5A after edging the Lady Eagles on the strength of a Chelsey Catlett fence-clearing shot. A win against Mansfield Summit would have put them in contention for fourth place – the final UIL 5A playoff seed.
The (8-7-1, 4-4) Lady Jaguars, however, snapped back-to-back-to-back losses to Midlothian, Mansfield Legacy and Mansfield Timberview High Schools.
Waxahachie hurler Talia Salinas, who threw 79 pitches, struck out four batters, walked two and allowed five runs on four hits in 4.2 innings, held the Lady Jaguars scoreless until the fourth inning. Mansfield Summit earned one hit through the first innings and until Cheyenne Macias' line-drive single drove in Jennifer Hine for the team's first run of the game.
During that stretch, the Lady Indians took a 2-0 lead after Ariana Robles' first-inning, leadoff home run and Sharrika Levingston's 2-0 count single that scored Addy Redd. Salinas protected the lead and earned three of her four strikeouts.
Robles, finished with a game-best 3-for-4 performance at the plate, joined Levingston, Redd and Salinas as owners of Waxahachie's seven hits. They finished with respective 2-for-3, 1-for-3 and 1-for-2 at-bats against Lady Jaguar pitcher Lauren Blue.
Blue, in seven innings of work, struck out three batters, walked two, committed one error and allowed three runs on 92 pitches. Fourteen of her outs came on groundouts (10) and fly balls (4).
But much like Friday's finish, a single home run — courtesy of Mansfield Summit — changed the landscape of the game.
After Blue's reach of first base on a fly ball error in the top of the fifth inning scored one run, Maddie Farrow's home run a batter later added two more and sealed the win for the visiting Lady Jaguars. Though Farrow (1-for-3), Macias (1-for-3), Mia Greenzeig (1-for-4) and Mikalyn Greenzweig (1-for-3) had hits, no Mansfield Summit player had more than one.
The Lady Jaguars notched only four hits in 26 at-bats.
Their stifling in the later innings was due in large part to the pitching of Lilly Graham, who relieved Salinas in the top of the fifth and shut out Mansfield Summit in the final two innings. She struck out four batters, walked none and allowed no hits during her 37-pitch, 2.1 inning stint on the mound.
Waxahachie, in sixth place and with games against Lancaster, Midlothian Red Oak and Mansfield Legacy, Lake Ridge and Timberview on the horizon, has better than a puncher's chance of reaching the 5A postseason. The road to the postseason begins with Tuesday night's matchup with Red Oak at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lady Hawk Field.
The (4-11-1, 1-7) Lady Hawks have lost three consecutive games since beating Lancaster High School by 15 runs March 21 — including Saturday's 11-4 loss to Mansfield Timberview.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.