Lady Tiger softball dug a deep hole against visiting Hillsboro Friday, March 14, but Glen Rose climbed out with a bang.
After trailing 6-0 in the third inning, Glen Rose scored six in the bottom of the seventh to rally for an 11-8 victory. Amber Ponce blasted the game-winning grand slam to centerfield, as Glen Rose hit three long balls. Hillsboro finished with more hits (13-12) and errors (3-0).
“It was a huge last inning for us,” said coach Kiel Miller. “Like I told the girls, the weight room is our friend and you could see that with the three home runs today. It showed that we’re never out of a ballgame, and we just need to swing the bats like that in the early innings. Their pitcher started struggling in the late innings and it was an outstanding job by our girls to jump on her.”
Ponce (HR, double, 4 RBIs) led the offense.
“That’s very big to get those three home runs, because we’ve been hitting the weight room so hard every day we practice,” Ponce said. “To have our three seniors hit them – it feels amazing. This win says that we’ll never give up. We pushed hard until the very last inning.”
Cheyenne Harton hit a solo homer and added an RBI single.
“Cheyenne continues to be a productive hitter, and her power is really coming on,” Miller said. “Teams better worry about her, because she can hit it over the scoreboard.”
Hannah Morales (2 singles, 2 RBIs) and Taya Vasquez (2 singles) also had multiple hits.
“Hannah and Taya are starting to find their bats again, which means their confidence is picking up,” Miller said.
Other offensive contributors were Sydney Stegint (HR, RBI), Destenie Lewis (single, RBI), Madi Gibson (single, RBI) and Sabrina Watson (triple).
Vasquez (3 IP, 6 R – 6 ER, 7 H, 2 W, 1 K) opened the game and Morales (4 IP, 2 R – 2 ER, 6 H, 1 W, 4 K) came on in relief.
“Hannah was pitching strong and throwing strikes,” Ponce said.
Despite a running catch by centerfielder Watson in the first, Hillsboro went up 2-0 with a walk, a single and a two-RBI single. Glen Rose went down in order, and then in the Hillsboro second catcher Page Green picked off a runner (hit) at first base.
“That pickoff by Page early made them more hesitant the rest of the way,” Miller said. “She let them know she was there to make it rough on them.”
The Hillsboro pitcher continued to control the action and then the visitors made it 6-0 in the third with a double, a walk, an RBI single, a two-RBI double and an RBI triple.
Glen Rose began to climb back, as Stegint belted a leadoff homer in the Glen Rose third.
“Sydney put in extra work earlier in the day and made a hitting adjustment to smoke one out in left field,” Miller said. “It’s her first home run, but probably not the last.”
With two outs, Lewis singled, Green reached on an error, Vasquez singled and Morales hit a two-RBI single for a 6-3 game.
“That third inning was big to make it a new ballgame for us,” Miller said.
Morales entered the game to pitch in the fourth and retired the side, striking out the first two batters she faced.
“When you go down six, you can’t go down much further and expect to win,” Miller said. “Hannah did a good job, and going forward I think we’ll continue to use both Hannah and Taya to throw batters off.”
Glen Rose pulled within 6-4 in the fourth via a Ponce leadoff double and a Gibson RBI bunt single (second on error).
Although second baseman Harton continued to play well with a fielded groundout, Hillsboro went up 7-4 in the fifth with a single and an RBI single.
Left fielder Gibson ran down two foul flies in the sixth, and then shortstop Lewis caught a popup to keep the deficit at three. A potential three-run homer for Hillsboro went just foul.
Harton hit a solo homer way out to left field to open the home sixth (7-5), but Hillsboro retired the next three batters. Although Hillsboro had a single, a single and an RBI single in the seventh, it only pushed the lead to 8-5. Gibson threw out a runner at third on a Ponce tag and then Morales struck a batter out.
“That was a great job by Madi,” Miller said. “She didn’t quite get the ball on the dive, but stayed with it on the throw to get a key out.”
With three outs left to plate three runs, Watson led off the home seventh with a triple to deep right-center.
“Sabrina really stepped up to slam one into the gap, which brings a big boost of confidence,” Miller said. “It was the big spark we needed.”
A Lewis RBI sac fly made it 8-6, then Green reached base on an error for the second time. Singles by Vasquez and Morales loaded the bases and a Harton infield RBI single cut the deficit to 8-7. Ponce then cranked the ball over the fence in center to clear the bases in thrilling fashion (11-8).
“That’s absolutely the best moment of my career,” Ponce said. “When I got up there, I told myself I was going to hit the ball well, and my heart was racing. I think we need to start hitting earlier in games, and that’s just about mindset.”
Miller was happy for the senior.
“Amber gets the grand slam to go with a double, and having her confident in the middle of the lineup is important,” the coach said. “I love to see the RBIs from her.”