BALDWYN – Being aggressive can be a good thing. Being overly aggressive, however, may prove costly.
The Baldwyn High softball team jumped out to a 5-1 lead on Hatley halfway through Thursday night’s Game 1 of a MHSAA Class 2A quarterfinals series, only to be outscored 10-0 and outhit 11-2 the rest of the way.
As a result, Hatley took the opening game of this best-of-three series, 11-5, on the road, and now gets a chance at advancing to the semifinals with a single win at home on Saturday afternoon.
“They came out very aggressive. They were ready to win,” coach Jessica Taylor said of her Lady Bearcats’ fast start, which included a four-run first inning on four hits. “I told them all day to be aggressive, because we knew (pitcher Lesley) Hudson would start throwing it around.
“She’s really good at hitting her spots. If she gives you that first pitch and it’s a good one, you better take advantage of it because you might not get another one.”
The Lady Bearcats answered Hatley’s first-inning tally by scoring a pair of runs on a wild pitch and passed ball and two more on Genee Grace Thomas’ single to right.
“They came out swinging,” Taylor said of her team, nearly a week after being one-hit by East Union’s Alie Haynie in both Games 2 and 3 of last week’s second-round series. “They were very fired up. They were ready to win this game.”
So what clicked for the Lady Tigers? What allowed for them to take advantage of the Lady Bearcats’ aggressiveness?
Was it simply the fact that they had never faced Baldwyn pitcher Savannah Alexander (8-7) before, and it was then going to take a couple of at-bats for their hitters to get used to her?
“I don’t know,” said Hatley coach Chris George. “We started out bad. We had a lot of bad swings.
“I don’t know if she throws something that we hadn’t seen before, but the girls, give them credit: They made the adjustment later on in the game and got on (base).”
Leadoff hitter Kelsey Wilson went 3 for 3 with two walks and two runs, and Katy Duling went 3 for 4 with four RBIs.
Deanna Wright added two RBIs with her two hits, including an RBI double in the top of the seventh to plate Wilson with her team’s 11th run.
Mallory Ashcraft also drove in a pair of runs with two hits, including the game’s first score in the top of the first.
Those four were a big part of a Hatley lineup that sent 11 to the plate in a six-run fifth inning.
Despite Maggie Martin ending up 3 for 4 on the night for the Lady Bearcats, her base knocks in the fifth and seventh innings were the only hits her team could muster after the third inning.
“They wanted it too badly,” Taylor said. “I think they were trying to do too much. They were trying to win it in one swing.
“That’s what I believe a lot of them went up there trying to do. Instead of just being patient, waiting on a good pitch and driving the ball like they were doing early.
“Every one of them wants to win it and they want it so badly that they are just overly aggressive.”
Meanwhile, Hudson shook off a shaky start to strike out 11 in improving to 16-7 on the year. She struck out the side in the sixth.
“The first couple of innings there we had trouble locating pitches, and they did a great job of putting the bat on the ball with two strikes and got some good hits,” George said. “But after that, she settled down and started to locate pitches, and we then started to get outs and play defense behind her.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal