By Moses Leos III
For seven innings Tuesday, the Hays Lady Rebels had little to no answer for Westlake Chaparral pitcher Lindsey McLeod.
Dominance in the circle from Westlake’s ace was enough to silence Hays’ offense in a 3-0 defeat at the Lady Rebel softball field.
Hays struggled to combat the effectiveness of McLeod, who struck out 11 Lady Rebels en route to a complete game shutout.
Hays Lady Rebel head coach Lisa Cone said McLeod’s command allowed her to stay ahead of Hays batters. The speed of her pitches also caught the team off guard. Despite game planning for McLeod’s speed, Cone said it took some time to adjust.
“We played four or five games where we saw a lot slower pitching that what we saw tonight,” Cone said. “We have just got to do a better job on hitting early in the count.”
Westlake’s offense equally struggled against Hays senior pitcher Kara Davis, who rallied past a shaky start to strike out five Chaparral batters over seven innings.
But the Chaparrals got the early jump, tallying a pair of runs on two hits in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.
Aggressive pitching was the key for Davis. Cone said Davis’ use of her off-speed pitches kept Westlake hitters off balance. Strong play from her defense also limited Westlake rallies.
“It takes me at least an inning to get warmed up and comfortable (in the circle),” Davis said. “After that, when I’m on a roll, I’m on a roll.”
Hays bats soon fell silent as McLeod found her rhythm. Aiding her cause was a Lady Rebel offense that went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.
Despite having runners reach second or third base in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings, Hays never delivered the critical hit.
As a team, Hays went 4 for 25 at the plate. Kaylee Lind led the way by going 2 for 2 with a double, a single and a walk.
But Hays worked to combat the dominance of McLeod. They did so by staying patient and battling deep into counts. Davis said the Lady Rebels changed their approach in the batter’s box to combat McLeod’s rise ball.
“We realized we needed to move to the front of the (batter’s box) before the ball breaks, so that was helping a little more,” Davis said.
But it was to no avail, as the Lady Rebels couldn’t generate a rally. Westlake added a final run in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach.
As the regular season draws to a close, Cone said her team will be focused on finishing out the season strong.
“We want to take things one game at a time,” she said.
Hays will play Bowie in Austin on Friday before hosting Akins on April 21 for senior night.