Friday night marked the final home game for the Lady Tiger seniors, and so nothing less than success was going to be acceptable.
Glen Rose (14-7-1, 6-1) overcame an off-night defensively with an eight-run third inning to key a 14-4 victory over Venus in six innings. The Lady Tigers finished with more hits (12-6) and fewer errors (5-6).
“We’d have liked to score in every inning and we started out slow, which I thought might happen because it’s Parents Night and our focus wasn’t always where it needed to be,” said coach Kiel Miller. “Plus, when you beat a team 20-1, it’s hard to get up for the rematch. But I knew as the game went longer, we would get stronger because that’s the team we’ve been this year.”
Madison Calvert (6 IP, 4 R – 3 ER, 6 H, 2 W, 7 K) got another win in the circle, but the story for the senior was the fact she hit her first varsity homer over the fence with a solo shot to lead off the fourth. She added an RBI single.
“It was a great moment,” Calvert said. “It was one of those things where you swing and you just know it. I looked up and saw my team and the fans in the stands going crazy.
“It was awesome. Plus it’s on Parents Night – just a great way to appreciate my parents and everything they’ve done for me.”
Miller acknowledged the magnitude of the moment.
“That was awesome for Madison – to see her do something she had never done in her last home game,” he said. “It’s pretty special for her and the girls loved it.”
Destiny Ponce hit a solo homer and a two-RBI triple in the same inning.
“I haven’t ever had two hits that good in one inning,” she said. “It was a great feeling. It meant a lot to play well in this game, because I hadn’t been hitting as well as I’d like lately. I felt like I got my bat back.”
Shelby Rotan (double, 2 singles, 2 RBIs) had a team-high three hits.
“Shelby has been great at the plate; she gets on base when we need her to,” Ponce said.
Other offensive contributors were Destiny Lewis (single, 2 RBIs), Amber Ponce (single, 2 RBIs), Cheyenne Harton (triple, RBI), Hannah Morales (single) and Alex Dahl (single).
While both teams went scoreless in the first, Rotan did lead off the Glen Rose first with a single. After Glen Rose made two errors in the second, the Venus third baseman committed three in the bottom of the frame. The Lady Tigers went up 2-0 on an Amber Ponce RBI groundout and a Lewis RBI single.
Venus cut the deficit to 2-1 in the third via a Glen Rose error with two outs before Calvert caught a hard liner right back at her.
To open the home third, Glen Rose had six-straight hits with a Harton triple, a Destiny Ponce line-drive homer, a Dahl single, a Calvert RBI single, a Morales single and an Amber Ponce RBI single.
“It feels really great on my home runs – the way it comes off the bat,” Ponce said.
“That’s four extra-base hits in her last two games,” Miller said of Harton. “She’s been on a tear the last couple of weeks and is really hitting the ball hard. We have to keep that up against Hillsboro.”
Lewis then had an RBI grounder (safe on error), Rotan singled, Harton had an RBI groundout and then Destiny Ponce capped off the huge inning with a two-RBI triple (10-1).
“I’ve never had a girl get a homer and a triple in an inning,” Miller said. “She put the good part of the bat on that homer and the only question was if it was high enough to clear the fence.”
Calvert wasn’t surprised to see the outburst.
“Going into the bottom of the third, we’d gotten a talking to from Coach Miller that we really needed and we knew it was our time to get our bats going the way we can,” she said.
Calvert retired the side in the fourth, as left fielder Page Green made a running catch.
“We focused on throwing first-pitch strikes, and for the most part Madison pitched well,” Miller said. “We didn’t use all of her pitches to save her arm a little bit at this point in the season. It was good for her to get some work with runners on base. We had a couple of mistakes by our young outfielders, but they each made a nice running catch and showed why they’re out there.”
Calvert led off the fourth with her solo blast (11-1).
“I’m really glad Madison is here this year and that she shared that moment with us,” Ponce said.
Venus tried to hang around and scored three in the fifth (11-4) via two hits, a walk and an error. In the top of the sixth, right fielder Sabrina Watson made a running catch.
Glen Rose managed to seal the deal in the sixth thanks to Calvert (safe on error), Kelsy Massey (walk), Lewis (safe on error, run home) and Rotan (2-RBI double).
“Shelby is doing a great job,” Miller said. “She was in a little slump by her standards lately, but she got the bat back at the right time.”
With one more district game left, Glen Rose has already secured a playoff spot.
“This will be my first time playing in a varsity playoff game in any sport, so I’m looking for the high intensity and I know our team will do as well as we can,” Calvert said.
“I’m really excited because I think we can go far this year,” Ponce added. “This is the best team we’ve ever had.”
The Lady Tigers will now travel to Hillsboro on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and the winner will lock up a district championship.
“We struggled with Hillsboro last time and didn’t play great in that one, but they left us in the ballgame and we made them pay,” Miller said. “We have to go do our jobs and play good defense to win the first district championship in our program’s history. That will probably be the biggest game ever for Glen Rose softball because we’re fighting for something that’s never happened before.”