MANSFIELD – The No. 10 ranked Palmer Lady Bulldogs took on the third ranked Brock Lady Eagles in a region II semifinal softball playoff game at Legacy High School on Friday night.
The Lady Bulldogs played well in the first half of the game but Brock scored 10 runs over the last three innings to run away with an 11-1 win. Brock scored 11 runs on 17 hits while Palmer recorded one run on five hits.
Lady Bulldogs’ head coach Pete Hampel said that once two teams get this far in the playoffs, everybody knows how to play well and win.
“They were pretty aggressive and they came here to play,” said Hampel about the Lady Eagles. “We just didn’t come to play tonight and we did some uncharacteristic things.”
Brock scored one run in the first inning after Liney Hays hit a base hit to center field. She later advanced to third base on a sac-bunt and a ground out to first base. Moments later, a throw was made to third base trying to get her out but the throw was mishandled and Hays ran in for the 1-0 lead.
The score stayed that way until the bottom of the third inning when Palmer responded. With one out, center fielder Brooke Ray hit an inside-the-park home run to tie the game at 1-1. On the play, Brock’s left fielder, Dana Jones, attempted a diving catch that she couldn’t get to. The ball went all the way to the corner of left field and Ray made it all the way around for a score.
Palmer had a scoring threat in the fourth inning when Taylor Prestidge hit a double to center field and later advanced to third on a sac-bunt. However, the next batter grounded out to third base and the score remained tied at 1-1. Prestidge had a good night for the Lady Bulldogs. She hit three for three at the plate including two doubles.
In the top of the fifth inning, things started to go against the Lady Bulldogs. Brock’s Hays slid into second base attempting to steal and in the process she ran over second baseman Arielle Kemp. Kemp’s right knee was injured on the play and the game was stopped.
“She’s had surgery on that knee before and she said she heard something pop,” Hampel said. “She said it felt like something came out but they stretched her leg out and I guess it popped back in and she felt better after that.”
Kemp continued playing the rest of the game but she had a noticeable limp after the incident. Hampel said she should be ready to play on Saturday but if she can’t, the team will have to do without her.
After the incident at second base, Brock’s bats got hot. Katie Addison hit a bunt to bring in Hays from third to make the score 2-1. Hannah Wagner then hit a double and brought Addison home for the score. Miranda Ingram stepped up to the plate and nailed a triple to the right center field gap and the Lady Eagles took a 4-1 lead.
Hays, who had a great night at the plate (4 for 5 including a double), pitched well also. She struck out three batters in the bottom of the fifth inning to prevent any type of a comeback.
In the sixth inning, Hays hit a RBI double and Cheyenne DeLaGarza hit a two RBI double and the Lady Eagles took a commanding 7-1 lead. Brock took that lead into the seventh inning, as the Lady Bulldogs just couldn’t find their offensive rhythm.
Brock wasn’t ready to let up though. The Lady Eagles put an exclamation mark on the win when it scored four more runs in the top of the seventh.
Down 0-1 in this best-of-three series, Palmer will have to rebound big on Saturday. Hampel said his team will need to do a lot of things differently.
“We have to get some hits,” he said. “We have to put some bunts down and we have to get some hits when we need to. We didn’t get any hits when we had runners in scoring positions.”
The Lady Bulldogs will try to advance to the region two finals on Saturday. It will have to win both games in order to do so. Game two was scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at Legacy High School and game three (if needed) would be played following game two.