By Moses Leos III
ROUND ROCK – A late-inning Hays Lady Rebel rally couldn’t rectify a series of miscues in Thursday’s bidistrict playoff opener against the Cedar Ridge Lady Raiders.
Four unearned Lady Raider runs on seven Hays errors proved the difference as Cedar Ridge escaped with a 6-5 win.
Cedar Ridge holds a 1-0 lead in the best of three series. Both teams will square off for game two Friday at 7 p.m. at the Lady Rebel Softball Field.
Consistency and accuracy in the field proved problematic for Hays on Thursday. Lady Rebel softball head coach Lisa Cone attributed some miscues to youth and pregame jitters.
Hays, however, couldn’t get out of their own way and amassed errors she said they haven’t made all season.
“We’ve got to play without mistakes. That was the difference in the ball game,” Cone said. “I told them it’s still softball. It’s still the same game. We win this game without our errors.”
Cedar Ridge took advantage of Hays’ mistakes in the bottom of the first inning. With two runners on base and one out, a routine ground ball by Desney McDonald turned into three throwing errors by the Hays defense.
The Raiders took advantage and scored a trio of runs on the errors; Cedar Ridge led 3-0 after an inning. The lead grew to 5-0 in the second frame on a two-run RBI bloop single from Christiana McDowell.
As Cedar Ridge thrived on Rebel errors, Hays’ offense worked to adjust to Cedar Ridge pitcher Breanna Hernandez.
Through the first three innings, Rebel bats couldn’t gain solid contact on Hernandez’ pitches. It led to pop-outs and ground balls in the early going.
Cone said Hernandez’ length and height played a factor.
“Her length is a little deceiving. She looks like she’s throwing really hard,” Cone said. “I think it’s because she’s pretty tall. That has something to do with it.”
Adjustments at the plate allowed Hays to manufacture a two-out rally in the fourth frame.
With runners on the corners, Hays senior Lizzie Bowne delivered a two-run RBI triple. She later scored on an error to cut the Lady Raider lead to 5-3.
Cedar Ridge added a run in the fourth frame. Hays attempted to counter in the fifth and sixth innings, but couldn’t capitalize with runners in scoring position.
It wouldn’t be until the seventh inning when Hays could take advantage.
With runners at the corners and one out, Hays High senior Aspen Salazar delivered a two-run RBI single. Her hit shrunk Cedar Ridge’s lead to 6-5
But Hernandez closed the game with a strikeout and a pop-fly to earn the win.
Avoiding mistakes is now the mantra for Hays with its season on the line Friday.
“I think we definitely got all our nerves out,” Cone said.
Hays’ Nadia Natek went four innings, giving up seven hits and six runs; two of those runs were earned. Hernandez went seven innings and gave up five runs on six hits while striking out four batters.