MANSFIELD – The first three games of the Mansfield ISD softball tournament were good building blocks for the Midlothian softball team to start the season. Friday’s game with No. 4 state-ranked Plano East was more like a reality check.
After cruising to a 4-0 start to the 2011 season, the Lady Panthers were hit with their first loss in sizable fashion, falling 11-0. Midlothian’s offense was limited to just three hits on the day, two of which came from outfielder Savannah Valderas.
“She’s a great pitcher and I’m not taking anything away from her but we just didn’t adjust well at the plate. I think we just kind of psyched ourselves out a little bit,” Valderas said. “We didn’t come out here to hit.”
Plano East took advantage of several Midlothian miscues to extend innings. The team scored on a failed fielder’s choice at home plate and an infield pop up that was touched before rolling foul in the third inning. Those two plays contributed to a four-run inning. East scored at least one run in four of the five innings played.
While the East offense pounded away, the Lady Panther bats fell silent as only Valderas kept the team from being completely retired in a row. Marissa Baltierra recorded an infield hit with two outs in the fifth and final inning. In all, Midlothian batters struck out four times and hit just two balls out of the infield.
“They’re a good team and they showed why they’re ranked No. 4 in the state,” coach Frank Griffin said. “They hit the ball, they hit the ball hard and we’ve got to react to it. That’s going to happen. We know that we’re going to get hit occasionally and we’ve got to react to it and we’ve got to react better than we did.”
Midlothian opened the tournament with dominating wins over Southwest Christian (8-0) and Mansfield Summitt (9-0) on Thursday. That success continued into Friday as the team started the day with a 3-1 victory over Fort Worth Southwest. Valderas helped key the offense in that game as the team scored two runs on her triple in the fifth inning to rally back from a 1-0 deficit.
The good vibes came to a halt against one of the state’s elite teams. While it was the team’s first loss of the year, the negativity was short-lived as Griffin stressed to his team the need to face adversity, learn from it and build on it. The lesson appears to have taken hold with the team.
“I thought it was good that (the bad loss) happened now just to learn how to bounce back from those kind of things. Like coach Griffin said, we’re going to have to come back against that hopefully at the end of the year,” Valderas said.
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