A run-rule win at home and nine-run road victory officially clinched a postseason berth for the Midlothian Lady Panthers softball team.
Midlothian first opened its new 600-seat home field with a 12-0 five-inning victory against Ennis this past Friday.
"It had a playoff atmosphere to it. We haven't had a crowd this big outside of a playoff game in a while," said Midlothian head softball coach Alex Lozoya said after Friday's win. "It was also nice to see a lot of alumni came back to support, and we have had a lot of great kids come through here."
Lozoya, who joined Midlothian ISD in 2011, then rattled off names like Amanda Claus, who attended West Texas A&M, and Tarleton State sophomore slugger Georgia Capell as former players he saw take part in the festivities.
"They deserved a chance to play here but, unfortunately, it didn't work out," he continued. "I am glad that they came back and that is the type of culture that we try and build."
And, with next season being the 25th anniversary of the softball program at Midlothian High, Lozoya said there could be an alumni game in the future.
The win was the first for the Lady Panthers on their first-ever true home field at the new Midlothian High Athletic Complex, located across Walter Stephenson Road from MHS.
"This is a very mature bunch. Our juniors and seniors, it's their locker room and their team," said Lozoya, who noted that there were a few distractions ahead of the complex opening, such as where to get dressed and where to warm up. "But they kept the team together.
He added, "A big compliment goes to our seniors and a big compliment goes to the senior parents. The parents have done a great job since they have been here as far as allowing the kids to be teammates and allowing the kids to grow. They encourage each other when someone pinch hits and I haven't seen any griping or asking, 'Hey why this kid' or "Hey, why that kid.' These parents and this senior class has been awesome."
The Lady Panthers followed that win up with a 10-1 District 14-5A road victory Tuesday night against Corsicana. It mathematically put the Lady Panthers into the 5A playoffs.
The two wins improved Midlothian to 15-7 on the season and 6-4 in district play. They are now three games clear of fifth-place Cleburne and Ennis with one game to play.
Midlothian is also locked into the fourth seed, as Joshua, Waco University and Red Oak all have matching 8-3 records.
Corsicana brings up the rear of the 14-5A with a 1-8 mark.
The Lady Panthers also already know their playoff foe: the state-ranked Forney Lady Jackrabbits.
Kristalyn Brown is credited with the first-ever complete-game shutout in the history of Lady Panthers Field following a 12-0 Midlothian win Friday against Ennis.
Brown struck out five and allowed just two hits — singles in the third and fifth innings — over her five innings of work inside the circle. She needed only 59 pitches.
Midlothian outhit Ennis 9-2 in the contest, while both teams committed two errors in the field.
With the new home digs come a few "firsts." The first-time accomplishments that occurred Friday on the new Lady Panthers Field included:
• First strikeout: Kristalyn Brown stuck out Aubree Lalani on four pitches (T1, 0 outs).
• First ball in play: Jayme Esparza grounded out to Riley Crawford at 3B, who threw to Kylie Hoggatt at 1B (T1, 3 outs).
• First hit: Riley Crawford singled to left field (B1, 1 out).
• First stolen base: Crawford stole second (B1, 1 out).
• First base-on-balls: Megan Martens walked on nine pitches with Aubree Lalani pitching (B1, 1 out).
• First double: Sierra Mihailov doubled to drive in two runs (Crawford, Martens) with two outs in the bottom of the first inning.
• First RBI: Sierra Mihailov doubled to drive in two runs (Crawford, Martens) with two outs in the bottom of the first inning.
• First hit-by-pitch: Maddie Morrow was plunked by Aubree Lalani (B1, 2 outs).
• First win: Kristalyn Brown tosses five-inning complete-game shutout with five strikeouts, no walks and two hits allowed.
• First loss: Aubree Lalani recorded the first loss following 4.1 IP with 12 runs allowed (4 earned) on seven hits and seven walks. She struck out four.
• First walk-off: Kylie Hoggatt doubled to score Emily Singleton, Crawford and Martens in the bottom of the fifth inning for the walk-off run-rule win, 12-0.
The Lady Panthers conclude their regular season at 7 p.m. Thursday at home against Red Oak.