Stout defense bookended with dominant offense propelled the Hays softball team (4-6) to an 8-3 victory over the Vista Ridge Rangers (6-6) Tuesday night at Hays.
Both Hays and the Lady Rangers came into the game boasting perfect records in district. In Vista Ridge’s three district games before tonight they had outscored their opponents 33-1, while the Rebels only outscored their two opponents 4-2.
After holding Vista Ridge scoreless in the first frame, the Rebels put together a two-hit, two-run bottom of the first inning after a RBI single from Rebels pitcher Maxine Valdez.
In addition to earning runs for the offense, Valdez put together a sensational performance on the mound. The Lady Rangers came into this game leading the district in both runs and hits.
Throughout the first four innings, Valdez allowed only one hit and zero runs.
After an impressive offensive performance in the first inning, the Lady Rebels cooled off on the offensive side of the ball, going scoreless in innings two, three, four and five.
However, the high-level of play on the defense was in no way affected by the lack of production by the offense.
“The defense played great behind (Valdez),” said Rebels head coach Lisa Cone. “We had a lot of ground ball outs which is what we want – ground balls or fly balls that’s the perfect scenario for us defensively.”
Vista Ridge earned its first run in the top of the sixth inning after a two-out RBI single from sophomore Kristian Chapa went straight up the middle of the Rebel defense to cut the deficit to 2-1.
However, the Rebel offense that had struggled to produce came alive yet again with a four-hit, six-run bottom of the sixth capped off with a three-run home run from right-fielder Kaylin Davis to extend the lead to 8-1 going into the final inning.
The Rangers managed to earn two runs in the top of the seventh after back-to-back RBI doubles, but the hole they had dug themselves proved too deep.
Cone said that her defensive game plan coming into tonight’s matchup was to try and keep the Lady Rangers off balance.
“Our scouting report was that the Rangers struggle more with the outside pitch and that’s where we tried to stay as much as we could … And Max hit her spots. Every pitch I was calling tonight she was covering her spots – she did a great job.”
Lisa Cone, Rebel coach
With ice on both her throwing shoulder and throwing hand, Valdez after the game said that she was nervous at first, but after her nerves calmed down it was just like any other game. She also complimented the play of the defense behind her.
Valdez ended the game with four hits and three runs allowed on seven innings pitched.
With the Rebels now 5-0 in district and one game remaining in the first round of district play, Cone said she told her team tomorrow is a new day – enjoy tonight, but stay focused.
The story has been update to reflect the Lady Rebels’ 5-0 record.