A combination of stout defense, exceptional hitting and gummy bear reinforcement helped propel the Lehman Lobo softball team to a 7-3 win over district foe Leander Lions Tuesday night at home.
Things didn’t start out according to plan for the Lady Lobos early.
Although Lehman was down 3-1, it was fortunate the score was that close. In the first three frames the Lion offense produced seven hits – including one triple and two doubles – but left four runners in scoring position.
Lady Lobo head coach Lydia Baggett said that she knows her team has an amazing defense, but sometimes they let one mistake affect their emotions.
“I just have to keep reminding them it’s okay, you’re gonna make mistakes,” Baggett said. “It happens, it’s life, it’s a game, it’s softball. You can’t let it affect the rest of your game and you can’t let it define you.”
The Lobos took these words to heart, and everything changed in the top of the fourth after freshman first baseman Lexi Bechtel made a spectacular catch off a line-drive, and then turned the double play to end the top of the fourth.
Then in the next frame sophomore shortstop Seryna Avalos was up to bat with the bases loaded and only one out. After going down in the count, Avalos rifled a shot down the left-field line for a three-RBI double to give Lehman the first lead of its game.
“I’ve been struggling throughout the season, and I just wanted to get the ball in play to bring whatever I could do to at least start a rally for my team … My mindset was just swing early, and it just went through.” Seryna Avalos, Lobo shortstop
This surge in scoring not only gave the offense confidence, but the defense too, as they held the Lady Lions scoreless in innings four, five, six and seven.
Baggett said Lehman tends to fall behind in the beginning of game, but she just keeps trying to tell them it’s one hit, hitting is contagious, it’s gonna happen.
Contagious it was, as Lehman put together seven hits after the Avalos double, including two triples from senior third baseman Alyssa Martinez, three doubles and two singles.
Baggett has a unique way of inspiring her team.
Incorporating a technique she learned throughout her coaching career, Baggett uses “positive reinforcement” through candy and treats to help inspire her team.
Tonight, it was gummy bears.
“So base hits, great defense, great pitching … you get a gummy bear,” said Baggett. “It’s just something to keep spirits up and keep them working – keep everybody up.”
However, Baggett does not believe gummy bears were the main reason for Lehman’s success tonight.
“The biggest factor was that nobody was getting down on themselves,” said Baggett. “It can’t just be one thing; it has to be both the offense and defense together. There was one point where I told them we can have the best defense, but it’s not going to amount to anything if we can’t start getting hits, getting on base, and scoring.”
Martinez seconded her coach’s sentiment on the importance of the team coming together.
“We realized the potential of this team when we (became) more of a family,” said Martinez. “I think we finally got to the mindset of we’re here, let’s go all out and play for the team. We got down as a team in the first round, now we’re seeing what we really can do.”
After earning their second win in district with the second round of play coming up, Baggett and her team are optimistic.
“Why not us?” said Baggett. “Why not have a great second half? Why not? Surprise everybody. Why can’t it be Lehman? If we give 100 percent and you keep working hard, why can’t it be us? All we have to do is never stop working.”