LORENA — The Lorena Lady Leopards went deep to claim victory over West in an impromptu battle of Central Texas softball stalwarts.
Lorena shortstop Kaci Donaldson and left fielder Madison Gardiner each blasted two-run home runs in the early innings, paving the way for the Lady Leopards’ 5-3 win over West on Tuesday night at the Lorena High School softball field.
Lady Leopards pitcher Rachel Williams held the Lady Trojans scoreless for the last five frames and finished with eight strikeouts to earn the win in the circle.
West coach Guyla Smith said Williams consistently baffled the Lady Trojan hitters.
“(Williams) did a great job of working in and out on them, up and down a little bit,” Lorena coach Steve Dolezel said. “That’s what really does a good job for a pitcher. You don’t have to throw really hard if you can do all that and she throws hard so that’s a big advantage now.”
The two softball programs, which are playoff regulars, scheduled this midweek contest on Sunday, giving each a chance to see another strong opponent.
“It’s good for us to play during the middle of the week against a quality program like West,” Dolezel said. “You’re going to have to be pretty sound to have a chance to beat them because they’re always going to do what you’re expected to do as a softball player.”
West’s Mia Pokluda reached base on an error to start the game, then moved to second on a bunt single by Libby Gerik and came around to score on a groundout by Caroline Roessler.
But Lorena (9-3) responded in the bottom of the first with a three-run rally.
Lady Leopards second baseman Damiana Longo started the inning with a double down the third-base line and scored on a single by first baseman Emma Tindell.
Then Donaldson put Lorena in front by turning on a 1-0 pitch and smashing it over the wall, just inside the foul pole in left field.
However, West (6-10) came back to tie it in the top of the second when shortstop Halley Maler drilled a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field, scoring Emily Jares.
Gardiner came through with the game-winning hit for Lorena in the bottom of the third when her fly ball to center field cleared the wall and scored Donaldson.
Williams walked the first West batter in the top of the fourth, but then retired seven straight, including striking out the side in the fifth.
Lorena and Williams held West to two hits and just three base runners after the second inning. Williams struck out Pokluda swinging to end the game.
“Basically they out-foxed us, the coach and the pitcher,” Smith said. “We didn’t make enough adjustments at the plate like we needed to. But we’re pretty young. We’re freshman and sophomore strong. I just got done talking to them about ‘She jammed you, well let’s back off the plate.’”
West 120 000 0 – 3 4 1
Lorena 302 000 x – 5 10 2
Leading hitters. West: Halley Maler 1-3, HR. Lorena: Damiana Longo 2-4, 2B; Emma Tindell 3-4; Kaci Donaldson 1-3, HR; Madison Gardiner 1-4, HR.
WP: Rachel Williams. LP: Ashlyn Williams.