A four-game winning streak has the Red Oak Lady Hawks on the cusp of a 5A playoff berth.
But their sights are set much higher than simply sneaking into the postseason.
"It's back in our hands," said Red Oak head softball coach Jonathan Rogers to Daily Light when asked about the potential for the Lady Hawks to win the District 14-5A title after a crucial 5-3 win Friday, March 29 against Joshua. "[...] If you pitch well and play good defense, you have a chance."
That victory moved the Lady Hawks into a tie atop the district standings with the Lady Owls. It was also the first of four consecutive district wins for the Lady Hawks, who are now alone on top of 14-5A.
The latest win, a 7-0 victory at home Friday against Corsicana, is also one that senior outfield Raegan Ferguson will not soon forget, either.
Ferguson (8-2, 5.87 ERA) tossed a seven-inning complete-game gem inside the circle for the Lady Hawks. She struck out seven, walked five and allowed just two hits.
It was her sixth seven-inning complete game of the season and first shutout. The two hits allowed were the fewest she has surrendered in an outing that lasted three innings or more.
And she wasn't done there.
The Lady Hawks offense was first kickstarted when Makyla Kelly singled home Brianna Evans in the top of the first inning.
Ferguson then slugged a two-run home run, scoring Taniece Tyson who leads the Lady Hawks with five round-trippers on the season, over the right-center field fence for a 3-0 Red Oak lead.
The first-inning home run was her first since Feb. 26 against Ferris. She then waited just four more innings to launch a second home run on the night — this time a solo shot to center field to put the Lady Hawks up 6-0.
Lacy Weaver also led off the bottom of the third inning with a home run to complete the evening's fireworks. It was her fourth.
Rosie Dillard and Tyson drove in the other two Red Oak runs during the victory.
The Lady Hawks outhit the Lady Tigers 9-2 and did not commit an error in the field.
"We have to keep learning from what we do well and, sometimes, even learning from the other team when they make mistakes, as well," said Rogers about where the Lady Hawks needed to focus during the final stretch of the season. "Even if it is not a mistake that we make, we can still learn from those."
Red Oak improved to 12-9 on the season and 7-2 in the District 14-5A standings with the Friday win. The Lady Hawks are one game clear of second place (14-10, 6-3) Joshua and (9-10, 6-3) Waco University. Midlothian, who had a bye on Friday, is fourth in the district standings with a 5-3 mark.
Cleburne is currently in fifth place in the 14-5A standings but, with only four games to play, the best the Lady Yellow Jackets could do is match Red Oak's seven district wins and force a play-in game. That would also mean the Lady Hawks would have to lose each of their final three 14-5A contests.
The latter is highly unlikely, meaning the Friday victory against Corsicana all-but solidified a 14-5A playoff spot for the Lady Hawks. They need a district win or Cleburne loss over the final two weeks of the regular season to make it official.
Red Oak went 6-4 in March and is already off to a 2-0 start in April.
The Lady Hawks suffered early-season losses to 6A South Grand Prairie (5-3), 6A Odessa (17-1), The Colony (15-7) and 6A Mansfield (12-5). They also had key non-district wins against playoff-bound 6A Waxahachie (8-7), Mesquite Poteet (12-10 and 5-2) and 6A Cedar Hill (10-4).
Red Oak returned to action Tuesday on the road against Wichita Falls and fell 12-5 in a non-district tilt.
The Lady Hawks return to 14-5A action Friday at 7 p.m. on the road against Waco University. They then return home Tuesday, April 16 to host Cleburne and close out the regular season Thursday, April 18 at Midlothian.
The final two ball games are slated for a 7 p.m. first pitch.
Fred Phipps/Daily Light contributed to this report.