Lady Hornets rally for comeback win to clinch area title
May 6—CORSICANA — For the second consecutive week, Huntsville softball had to battle a weather delay en route to claiming a title.
After grabbing a 7-0 win in game one on Thursday, the Lady Hornets needed to win just one more to claim their second area title in three years, but things started shaky against Lovejoy.
Senior Hope Grant would get the start in the circle but saw just one inning of work. The Lady Leopards found themselves with a lead off triple to break the game open against Grant. Lovejoy grabbed the early 1-0 lead after a ground out.
However, Huntsville was able to answer and get the 2-1 win.
"This is something we really wanted to push through," Huntsville head coach Morgan Bryan said. "We had the standstill on offense and we really wanted to come back and put it on. We were disciplined and that is the biggest thing we tried to convey. We didn't swing at her pitch and they did a great job refocusing at the plate."
Offense for Huntsville opened game one strong, but then they fell flat. Stretching back to Thursday, Huntsville saw five straight scoreless innings against the Lady Leopards. But the Lady Hornets put things together in the top of the third.
Senior Noelle Sandmann drew a walk and was moved over with a ground ball, something the Lady Hornets have used a lot this year. Junior Aariss McHale would reach base and scored Sandmann, which tied the game.
Outside of that, Huntsville struggled to get anything else. They finished the game with three hits as seven members could not get a hit in the game. But luckily a mistake by Lovejoy allowed the Lady Hornets to get around the bases in the top of the seventh.
Coming out of the near two hour delay, junior Emily Zunker was hit by a pitch and back-to-back two out walks moved the runners up. Lovejoy's pitcher then threw a ball into the turf and it bounced over the 20-foot fence to score the go-ahead run.
"I think it's those big situations that come up and we are pressing too much," Bryan said. "We are going to refocus on not pressing as much in those situations. We have to dig our feet in and get comfortable in the box and do the little things right."
Junior Jaelynn Duke pitched in Thursday's game and the plan was to get her rest in game two, but that didn't happen.
Duke would then come in relief where Lovejoy was held scoreless the rest of the way.
Duke finished the game where she allowed four hits and struck out nine as she logged her 50th career win.
But over the two days, Duke has thrown 193 pitches.
"The thought process was to rest her because she played a phenomenal game on Thursday," Bryan said. "We had to go back to her and she did a great job. She dug her feet in and said 'I got this' and wanted the pressure situation. To get the 50th win was a big one and it's a huge milestone for her."
Huntsville heads back to the regional quarterfinals for the second time in three years but this time they will face a familiar opponent. The Lady Hornets will draw district member Dayton in the regional quarterfinals.
The two teams have met twice this year with the teams both winning their respective home games. Now, they will face off for a chance to save their season.
"It's a big matchup and they hit the ball well last time," Bryan said. "We weren't prepared so we will do a better job and we will be ready this time."