For the first time in four years, the Waxahachie Lady Indians softball team finds itself in the second round of the playoffs.
Now that the team has gotten here, the next opponent for Waxahachie (18-9, 10-4 and third place in 15-4A) is the Wylie Lady Pirates (18-5, 12-2 and first place in 13-4A). The two teams will play a best-of-three series.
Game one will be at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Wylie. Game two will be at 2 p.m. Saturday back in Waxahachie. Game three, if necessary, will be 30 minutes after game two.
“It will be a big game Thursday if we can go up there and win it because then we have to win just one here,” Waxahachie coach Steve Howell said. “We don’t lose many here at our place.”
Waxahachie got to round two thanks to winning a one-game playoff 12-2 against Lindale last week. The Lady Indians will try and win a best-of-three series for the first time since beating Red Oak in the fourth round of the playoffs in May of 2008.
Howell would prefer a one-game playoff with this team, but he’s confident in his team.
“I think with our pitching, we’re better suited for a one-game series, but it doesn’t really matter,” Howell said. “If our pitching can be strong, we can go three.”
Pitching is always the key in a series that goes three games. It’s not uncommon to see the first two games of a series be pitching duels and the third game be a shootout as teams’ pitchers get tired. Waxahachie will try to balance Jaymie Kendrick and Miranda Herron in this series.
“We’re going to go with Miranda or Jaymie for as long as we can in game one and if we can get three or four well-pitched innings from each one we will be in it,” Howell said. “Even if we go to a game three, I feel good about them being able to go.”
Herron has 57 strikeouts in 81 innings and has 10 wins. Kendrick has six wins in 75 innings and 32 strikeouts.
Wylie has just one pitcher so if there is a third game, it may be an advantage to Waxahachie. The Lady Pirates are led by sophomore pitcher Brooke Dumas. She has 14 wins and a 3.63 ERA in 108 innings pitched. She only has 66 strikeouts, so she isn’t going to blow people away.
“She’s got a lot of spin on the ball. She’s not a top dog, but she can control some of our hitters,” Howell said. “Hopefully not all of them, but some of them.”
Dumas is also the Lady Pirate’s top hitter with a .545 batting average, four home runs, 36 hits and 32 RBI. She leads the team in all of those categories. The Lady Pirates have two other batters hitting above .400 and Howell is preparing his team for the potential small ball Wylie tends to use.
“We went and saw them play and they would bunt with their three and four hitters so we want to be prepared for that,” Howell said. “They do some things that could give us some trouble, but we’ve got to play our game.”
Waxahachie’s offense is powered by Herron and Ariel Ortiz. Herron has 16 home runs, one shy of the state record for homers in a season, 40 RBI, 11 steals and a .575 batting average. Ortiz has 11 homers, 60 RBI, 18 doubles and a .638 batting average.
Those top two batters will set the table for Waxahachie for sure, but the rest of the line up will need to contribute if the Lady Indians are going to reach round three for the first time in six years.
None of these players have played in a round two game, but Howell isn’t worried about a distraction. He’ll be able to know more when the team is warming up.
“I can look and see with my girls before the game,” Howell said. “The look I got from them the other night said we were going to win. Looks from games in past seasons wasn’t the same, but I think they are hungry now and they want it.”
Wylie isn’t as loaded as Waxahachie’s district rivals Ennis and Mansfield Legacy, both ranked in the state’s top-15, so Howell thinks his team has a good shot against the Lady Pirates.
“They are a team we can beat,” Howell said. “Teams we can beat, we should beat. That’s how we’ve done it all year.”