MANSFIELD – In the top half of the fourth inning, Amanda Claus made a freshman mistake. In the bottom half of the same inning, she showed why she was a freshman starting on a varsity team.
After making an error in the field that prolonged the top half of fourth, Claus got atonement during her at-bat in the Midlothian half of the inning as the second baseman drove home two runs on a double to the wall in center that proved to be winning runs in a 5-4 win over Plano East.
“It felt really good, especially to be a freshman that hit the two winning runs in. It felt awesome,” Claus said.
Trailing 2-1 going into the fourth, Hillary Heisroth started the inning off with a single on the first pitch of the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Savannah Valderas moved her to second while Marissa Baltierra reached on a walk.
The Lady Panthers plated the first run of the inning on an error at third base to tie the game at 2-2 as Heisroth slid into home on the play. That set up Claus for the key at-bat and she was happy to deliver.
Her hard shot found an open spot in the grass and made its way to the wall as a pair of runners scored.
While her bat turned the game, it would be Claus’ base running that would ultimately seal the game as the fleet-footed runner moved from second to third on a ground out by Brady Luedtke. During Kacy Williams’ at-bat, the Plano East catcher tried to catch Claus leaning towards home but instead threw the ball into the outfield allowing her to score for a 5-2 lead.
That run proved to be big as Plano East plated a pair of runs in the fifth inning with the game-tying run on second. After pitching a sterling effort through the first four innings, coach Jennifer McFalls left pitcher Megan Spence in with one out in the final inning. Her decision paid off as Spence fielded a grounder back at the mound and turned a 1-6-3 double-play to seal the win.
“I always say that when teams come from behind it shows a lot of character and this team has a lot of potential but we’re just trying to figure out our chemistry a little bit,” McFalls said. “(Catcher) Jade (Laurence) has just crushed the ball all weekend. She’s doing an outstanding job as a senior leader and our freshman stepping up at the end was pretty important. Hopefully that will help give her a little confidence.”
The victory was crucial after a 2-2 start to the tournament. In each of the previous two days, the Lady Panthers (4-2) lost their opening game before coming back to win the nightcap.
But with no more games after the Plano East game, getting the win was a huge boost for a team still trying to find itself.
“It was very important for us to win because all of our first games we came out and had lost and then the second game we come back and beat the next team,” Claus said. “I was really proud of that team today for coming back with win.”
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