A three-run third inning explosion Monday carried the Lehman Lobos to a hard-fought 4-2 win over the Austin Maroons.
But it was several stellar defensive plays in the field that allowed Leh-man to secure its fourth win of the 2018 campaign. Jesse Bustamante, Lehman head softball coach, said the efforts accentuate the high level of play the Lobos have exemplified so far this season.
“The girls are doing everything I’m asking them to do,” Bustamante said. “Our defense has been really good all year. I’m proud of the girls, they work hard in practice and are trying to get better every day.”
Lehman’s defense stood firm early in the contest by denying Austin a potential game-breaking play in the second inning.
With Austin runners on first and second base and no outs, Lehman left fielder Mariana Pena completed a sensational diving snag to rob a would-be extra base hit. Pena turned the fly ball out into a double play, which helped Lehman keep Austin to a 1-0 lead.
Lobo Pitcher Lexi Bechtel, who went the distance in Monday’s game, lauded the play of her defense.
“It’s great that the outfield was working for me and it boosted my confidence because they always have my back,” Bechtel said.
The Lobos took advantage of the play an inning later when they broke out for three runs, highlighted by a two-run RBI single from Audrey Dienhart.
“I saw an opportunity to get runs for our team to get ahead,” Dienhart said.
The scoring outburst was a by-product of situational hitting for the Lobos, who tried to execute with runners in scoring position.
Bustamante said the team works on “small ball” during practice, to ensure they have runners in position to score when their big hitters go to the plate.
“I tell the girls, if we aren’t able to hit, we have to be able to play small ball and move the runners over,” Bustamante said.
Lehman turned to the arm of Bechtel, who shut down the Maroons to only one additional run scored in the fourth frame. Bechtel and the Lobo defense stranded upwards of five Maroons on the base paths.
Bustamante said Bechtel hit her spots and had a strong outing in the circle.
“All we can ask for is ground balls, even if they are making contact,” Bustamante said. “Ground balls, pop-flies, that’s the type of pitcher she is.”
Taking things one moment and one game at a time is the Lobos’ goal as they prepare for the district schedule.
But the win was critical for the morale of the Lobos.
“It puts a win on our shoulders and gives us something to look forward to and work on,” Dienshart said.