In the final game of the round one playoff series, the El Campo Ladybirds ripped a win away from the Caldwell Lady Hornets in extra innings.
With the odds stacked against the Ladybirds, they shouldn’t have won game three against the Lady Hornets. After winning game one on Friday night, the second game went to Caldwell in blowout fashion. For the series, the Ladybirds were down two important people, Coach Roxanne Cavazos was under doctors orders to stay home, she is about to give birth to her first child, and senior starter and middle of the lineup hitter Ashley Lilie missed the games an injury.
In the finale Saturday night the odds were compounded. The Ladybirds went to sophomore pitcher Mackenzie Matlock who pitched sparingly in District play. Second basemen senior Aubree Matthews was asked to play shortstop, a position she hasn’t played all season. Senior right fielder Malorie Solis was moved to second base and sophomore Allyson Rioux, who mostly pitch ran during the year, was called upon to bat and play right field.
With everything seemingly going against them, the Ladybirds did something they’ve done all season, made a comeback to win the game. In nine innings Saturday night, the Ladybirds defeated the Lady Hornets 5-4 to earn the right to move on to the second round.
“It’s incredible to have nine seniors on the team, but also have lower classmen that want to win as much as everyone else does,” Cavazos said.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, senior Peyton Stock laced a double off the wall. Stock’s ball came inches away from a walk-off home run as it bounced off the top of the centerfield wall.
Senior Karsyn Russell followed with a hard hit back to first, but the fielder wasn’t able to catch it cleanly and it rolled away from her. Stock made the turn at third base and ran home. The Lady Hornet second baseman came up with the ball and fired home, Stock slid under the tag by the catcher, the umpire signaled safe and the game was over. El Campo once trailed by four runs, and two in the bottom of the seventh, but when Stock crossed the plate, the comeback was complete.
“All I saw was Karsyn (Russell) got on, I was like, oh my gosh I have to score,” Stock said. “(Assistant) coach (Lindsey) May was like go, go, go and I just went and got dirty. I am so excited, it’s insane.”
The Ladybirds fought and clawed all game long. After a four-run first inning, the Ladybirds made the switch on the mound from Russell to Matlock with one out in the second inning. Matlock took the ball and spread out three hits and two walks in her 7.2 innings of work.
“I’m so happy for Mackenzie (Matlock),” Russell said. “Nobody (on the other team) really knew her. She kind of flew under the radar and she got this big playoff win.”
“I just really thought I had to do my job right now and that’s what I did,” Matlock said. “I did it for my team and the seniors so this wasn’t our last game. My fastball was actually really working good, my curve was working good and I was able to jam them on the inside with the screwball.”
The last time Matlock pitched for the Ladybirds was April 9, against Brookshire Royal. In District, the sophomore only had seven innings under her belt.
With Matlock locking down the Lady Hornets, it was up to the bats to get going. In the finale, It wasn’t until the third inning that the Ladybirds started to dig out of the 4-0 hole.
Rioux in her first at-bat in the series, led off in the bottom of the third with a single to right field. She’d end up on third base after a bad play on the ball by the Lady Hornet outfielder. Matlock would bunt her home a batter later.
Senior Natalia Terrell reached first on an error to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. After back-to-back passed balls, Terrell made it to third base. With one out, senior Kinley Bubela laid down a bunt and the four-run Lady Hornet lead was chopped in half.
While the Ladybirds put pressure on the Lady Hornets with two base runners in the bottom of the sixth, they came up empty-handed.
Rioux reached base on an error to start the bottom of the seventh. She’d quickly got thrown out on the bases, and the Ladybirds were down to two outs to find two runs to save their season.
The next two Ladybirds reached base and the rally was on, with runners on second and third with one out. Senior Reagan David had an RBI ground out to make it 4-3. The groundout also moved Matlock who was on second over to third. Stock followed with a hard grounder to short. Hustling down the line, it forced a quick throw from the Lady Hornet shortstop and the throw was high, Stock was safe and Matlock tied the game.
The momentum which was slowly building was now a full-blown Ladybird advantage. The bubbles the Lady Hornets were blowing in the dugout during the second game and throughout the first few innings of the finale was long gone. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Ladybirds loaded the bases but left empty-handed. An inning later they captured the win.
“It takes one pitch, one swing of the bat, one throw for an entire game to change and flip upside down,” assistant coach May said.
The win wipes away the big loss the Ladybirds had in the second game. The Ladybirds trailed 3-0 after three innings and Caldwell scored five runs in the fourth and fifth innings to end the game early.
In the series opener, the Ladybirds needed another walk-off to beat Caldwell. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, senior Madi Montalvo singled to start the inning. She’d move to second on a ground out. Senior Malorie Solis reached on an error, moving Montalvo to third base with one out. Solis stole second and Matlock brought them both home with a single to end the game.