The Lorena softball team showed off its ability to rally as it opened the Class 4A playoffs.
Although Midlothian Heritage grabbed an early lead, the Jaguars couldn’t sustain momentum against Lorena’s hit barrage.
The Lady Leopards scored in all but one at-bat as they notched a 13-2 run-rule victory on Thursday night at the Lorena High School softball diamond.
Lady Leopards third baseman Kaci Donaldson smacked a two-run home run over the wall in left field to score Ashlyn Wachtendorf and end it in the bottom of the sixth.
With that, Lorena (19-6) took a 1-0 lead in the bi-district series. The Lady Leopards and Jaguars will resume play with Game 2 of the best-of-three series at 6 p.m. on Friday night in Midlothian. If needed, Game 3 will immediately follow Game 2.
Heritage (11-13) scored two runs on two hits in the top of the first inning, but Lorena answered quickly.
Lady Leopards cleanup hitter Madison “Bird” Gardiner ripped a double that bounded into the left field wall, scoring Wachtendorf and cutting Heritage’s lead in half in the bottom of the first.
Though that’s all Lorena would get in the opening frame, it was significant.
“That steadied our nerves a little bit right there,” Lady Leopards coach Steve Dolezel said. “We felt good about getting that run. You feel like you’re going to get to a pitcher, we’ve just got to be patient and see the ball well.”
Lorena pitcher Sara Robertson, who played in the regional golf tournament earlier this week, found her rhythm in the circle and shut down the Jaguars the rest of the way.
Robertson retired six in a row during a stretch from the second to fourth innings and gave up only three hits after the first inning.
Meanwhile, the Lady Leopards produced runs on a regular basis.
Lorena rightfielder Kylie Henderson led off the second with a single to left and Alexis Nava followed with a double that reached the wall in left. Robertson tied the game by grounding to second, scoring Henderson. Then Alyssa Moore singled up the middle, driving in Nava and putting Lorena in the lead.
Donaldson hit a bloop single to left field that brought Moore home and finished Lorena’s three-run rally.
The Lady Leopards came back with three more runs in the bottom of the third. Robertson sparked the offense with a triple that landed just inside the first base line in right field and scored Brooke Haberman and Nava. Moore followed with a grounder to second that scored Robertson.
Wachtendorf keyed the four-run rally in the sixth that ended the game. She slapped a triple that bounced over first base and into foul territory, allowing Nava and Moore to scamper around and score. With one out in the bottom of the sixth, just about any ball in play would have ended the game with Wachtendorf at third, but Donaldson left no doubt with her homer.