The Hays Rebels needed half an inning Tuesday to validate the hardball axiom that hitting is contagious.
A 10 run, six hit bottom of the fourth inning catapulted Hays to a 12-9 come-from-behind district opening win over the Lake Travis Cavaliers at the Rebel Softball Field.
Key adjustments at the plate led the Rebel offense to find success in the fourth inning and beyond, said head coach Lisa Cone. Prior to the fourth frame, Hays struggled to take advantage of scoring chances.
Despite having runners in scoring position in the second and third innings, Hays was unable to scratch across any runs.
Cone said her coaching staff noticed players were swinging at pitches early, which led them to ask batters to step up in the batters box.
“I’m not sure if it took their mind off of it. We made solid contact after we made that adjustment … The girls were all over it. I think it was that adjustment we made at the plate.” Lisa Cone, Lady Rebel head coach
Hays had to make adjustments after Lake Travis sped out to a 5-0 lead after three innings. Hindering the Rebels were several defensive errors, which allowed Lake Travis to extend innings and score runs.
Cone said nerves relating to the first district home game got the better of a young Rebel infield that had trouble making the routine plays early on.
“The girls were nervous to open up at home. That’s to be expected,” Cone said. “We settled down after the first couple of innings and we were good after that.”
Hays rallied with a vengeance in the fourth frame, led by designated player Jordan Tovar who compiled a single, double and four RBIs all in one half-inning.
During the course of the fourth inning, Hays sent 13 batters to the plate and received RBIs from Brianna Rodriguez, Lulu Arroyo, Illyana Cisneros and Abbie Blackwell.
Tovar, who capped the fourth inning with a three-run RBI double, said the team was surprised at the offensive output in the contest.
Cone, however, said the Rebels hit the ball “extremely well” during a tournament last weekend and got “good cuts” on practice the day before the game.
“Usually, when we’re down, we’re kind of negative about it,” Tovar said. “But we came out strong and finished strong.”
With a 10-5 lead in hand, Hays turned to pitcher Maxine Valdez, who earned the win by going 6.1 innings and giving up nine runs on six hits in the game.
Cone said Valdez adjusted after Lake Travis caught on to her inside pitches. She instead chose to attack the outside of the plate, which helped keep Cavalier bats off balance down the stretch.
Valdez also battled heat-illness toward the end of the game.
“I’m proud of her. She didn’t act like a sophomore tonight,” Cone said.
Lake Travis inched closer to the Rebels in the fifth inning by scoring two runs to cut the Rebel lead to 10-7.
But for every Cavalier response, Hays answered right back. The Rebels gathered two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 12-7 lead.
Lake Travis added two more runs late, but couldn’t pull back into contention.
The Cavaliers had two runners on base and the tying run at the plate with two outs in the seventh inning, but Gabie Aleman, who earned the save, forced a ground out to end the threat.
With Westlake on the horizon Friday, Cone said the win was a boost of confidence for the Rebels.
“This is huge for us. It gives us confidence, to know we can hit the ball and come back from a 5-0 deficit,” Cone said. “I know it’s something we can build on.”