CORSICANA – From mentally downtrodden to trying to refocus to extended concern to jubilant celebration, the previous 24-hour stretch from Tuesday through Wednesday was a roller coaster for the Red Oak softball team. So when Wednesday’s game at Corsicana stretched into five extra innings, it was a mentally challenging test.
But it was totally worth the stress. Jaimi Munoz sent an RBI single to left field bringing home Lauren Tamez in the top of the 12th inning for what turned into the deciding run in the Lady Hawks’ 2-1 victory over the Lady Tigers.
“It was about time. It took us long enough,” Munoz said of her go-ahead hit. “I did it for (pitcher) Mar(ley Dickert) because she’s dying out here for us and we needed to pick it up for her.”
Just over 12 hours removed from an 11-3 thrashing by district-leading Forney, the Lady Hawks (9-13, 2-4 district) headed to Corsicana for a mid-afternoon game against the previously district unbeaten Lady Tigers.
With the wind blowing in and both pitchers playing well, the game moved along as both offenses failed to get much going on the scoreboard. Corsicana took a 1-0 lead in the third inning by using a walk, hit-by-pitch and fielding error to plate its lone run.
Red Oak responded in the fifth inning when first baseman Kaitlin Callier laid down a bunt single and ended up on third when the ball was thrown away and into the outfield. Red Oak tied the game when No. 9 hitter Morgan Dufour sent a single to left.
“It felt good. I really enjoy being able to have that advantage because normally nine holes are not very strong and I know that it’s a job to get that girl on base or whoever is on around,” Dufour said.
Red Oak actually got the better of Corsicana offensively but could not produce runs when the situation presented itself. The Lady Hawks notched 11 hits for the game but left nine runners in scoring position.
With her teammates trying to find some success at the dish, Dickert did her best from the circle to keep the Lady Hawks in the game. Battling a back injury that progressively got worse as the game rolled on, Dickert kept Corsicana off-balance with her pitches. She allowed three hits for the game but only one hit after the second-inning. Along the way, she recorded seven strikeouts including four after the seventh-inning.
Despite putting the winning run on base in the eighth and ninth innings, Corsicana could not push it across as Dickert and the defense kept making plays at the right time. An off balance catch by Munoz in left, a pop-up to Callier at first and another behind home plate to Dufour all kept the Lady Tigers out of potential game-winning situations.
Tamez’s leadoff single in the 12th was followed by an error in the outfield during Dufour’s at-bat, which put two on with no outs. That’s when Munoz, who finished the day 4-for-5 with three singles, a double, a walk and an RBI, sent her shot to left that brought home the winner. A Lady Hawk pinch runner would get caught in a rundown during that sequence but that single run was all the team needed.
The defense stood up for their pitcher in the final frame as Dickert allowed a leadoff walk, which was quickly erased. Dufour first gunned down the runner trying to steal first as Dickert got the final two batters to pop-up on the infield. Dufour’s diving catch in foul ground, her second such catch of the day, sealed the victory and sent players spilling on to the field in celebration.
“It’s just all something that comes with the job. You just go with it on the fly,” Dufour said of her play.
For coach Tatum Thorne, the win was a positive moment to end the playing week on as Red Oak resumes its schedule next week against West Mesquite.
After the Forney loss, players returned to the field early Wednesday morning eager to take batting practice and work on fielding to get better and prepare for the game ahead. The hard work was rewarded, albeit after a long wait.
“It’s huge, to beat a 5-0 team in this district is tough. This district is huge,” Thorne said. “For our emotional state I think it’s a bigger win than it is for them a loss and that doesn’t make a lot of sense when I say that but we’ve got to figure out ways to win.”
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