By Tyler Tyre
Slaton overcame Kermit in the Area round of the playoffs over the weekend. Winning both games in a three game series to advance to the Regional Quarterfinals.
In the first game, the Tigerettes jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, with Kamryn Gibbs picking up a solo home run and Madi Englund scoring on a wild pitch.
Kaylee Franklin then pitched a scoreless bottom of the first, recording two strikeouts in the process. Slaton was held scoreless in the second and Kermit tied things up in the bottom of the inning, with two runs crossing the plate.
Gibbs added a second homer to her tally in the third inning, driving a two run bomb to center. Kinzie Boreing followed Gibbs up with a three run homer of her own to give the Tigerettes a five-run lead.
The Lady Jackets however, roared back in the bottom of the inning, scoring five runs of their own to tie the game.
Slaton started off the fourth with yet another homer, as Sam Gatica drilled a ball over the center field fence. After a Gibbs walk, a Madi Englund walk and a KK McCord single, Alexis Rubio stepped to the plate and delivered a two-run double to bring The Tigerettes lead to three.
Kermit again responded in the bottom of the inning, hitting a two run homer to bring the score to 10-9 Slaton after four innings.
The Tigerettes increased their lead to four in the top of the fifth, as Gatica hit her second home run of the day, driving in Boreing and Lizzie Thomas in the process.
The Lady Jackets took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth, scoring seven runs on four hits in the home half to take a 16-13 lead.
After loading up the bases in the top of the sixth, the Tigerettes scored on walks to both Gatica and Gibbs. Englund then hit a bases clearing triple, regaining the lead for Slaton.
The Tigerettes weren’t done in the inning, as Justyne Zapata scored Englund on an RBI single.
Kermit was again able to take back the lead in the bottom of the inning, scoring six runs on five hits to make the score 22-19 in the Lady Jackets favor.
Slaton loaded up the bases for the second straight inning in the seventh, and Englund stepped to the plate and slugged a grand slam to give the Tigerettes a one-run lead. McCord added an insurance run for the Tigerettes with a steal of home to bring the score to 24-22 for Slaton heading into the final half inning.
Franklin shut down the scorching Lady Jackets offense to clinch the win, including a strikeout for the final out of the game.
“We hit the ball really well this past weekend, I think confidence is the key with hitting, and right now we are confident stepping up to the plate. Practices change some later you get into the season and having multiple practices to get ready helps,” Langston said. “We have been able to get more focused batting practice in the last couple of weeks and have hit the ball well, so our confidence is in a good place right now. We talk about anytime we have an at bat left, we are still in the game no matter what the score is, it is pretty crazy how deep we are. We have girls on the bench that can come in and hit well any time for us.”
The second game was all Tigerettes. The team jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, Englund hit a two-run double to start the scoring, and the Tigerettes added two after an error by the Lady Jackets second baseman.
Kermit clawed two runs back in the second inning, and didn’t allow a run by Slaton in the bottom half, but the Tigerettes responded in strong fashion.
Aryanna Zapata drove in a run on a ground out, Thomas added another on an RBI single and Englund capped off the inning with a three RBI triple to give Slaton a 9-2 lead after three innings.
After blanking Kermit in the fourth, the Tigerettes sealed the game by putting up six runs in the bottom of the inning. Zapata started the scoring with an RBI double before coming around to score on an error by the short stop in the next at bat, Gibbs then sent a two-run home run to center field to add to the tally.
McCord hit an RBI double and Amaya Flores added to the lead with an RBI single. Rubio blanked the Lady Jackets in the fifth to clinch the series for the Tigerettes in two games.
Langston praised the performance from Rubio, who allowed just two runs on eights hits, while striking out one.
“We expected Alexis to pitch a lot more then she has this year, but she had some injuries and illnesses early on in the season. I knew she was capable of helping us from the mound, it was just trying to get her healthy and in a right place to get out there and compete for us. She won three games in District, and each time out she has gotten more comfortable pitching,” said Langston. “Knowing that we have some other pitchers helps all around, it helps Kaylee feel like it’s not all on her, and the team knows that Rubio is able to come in and pitch well for us.”
Some top performers over the weekend included Englund, who notched seven hits, a grand slam and 12 RBIs in the series. Gibbs, who hit three home runs, drew six walks and had six RBIs in the two games. And Gatica, who had five fits with two home runs and five RBIs.
The Tigerettes will play this Saturday (May 11) against Brownfield at the Lubbock-Cooper Softball Complex. Brownfield is a team Slaton is very familiar with, as the Tigerettes split games with the Cubs this year.
“We know that Brownfield is a good team. They are going to show up and play, and their goal is to end our season. I think the biggest challenge is for us to not overthink things that happened in the past and just go out and do what we do and be more concerned with us,” Langston said.
“It will be a good challenge for us and it’s an exciting time of the year. Our girls have really responded well to some adversity this year and have been calm, kept their heads up and kept fighting. I think as long as we can stay focused on us and keep the confidence at the plate and continue to hit the ball like we have been, then good things will happen for us.”