Hays Lady Rebel junior pitcher Maxine Valdez pitched a five-inning complete game shutout with nine strikeouts and allowed one hit in a dominating 10-0 victory over the Vandergrift Vipers Friday.
“She threw very few pitches tonight,” said Hays head coach Lisa Cone. “She was right on, everything was working well for her. I think she knew what pitch I was calling before I called it tonight. It was a great night for her on the mound.”
Valdez had her perfect game snapped with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning when a Viper batter hit a slow ground ball up the middle. Hays second baseman Julie Blumhagen made a jump on the ball to try and save the perfect game, but the ball was just out of her reach as it hit off of her glove and stalled in the dirt.
Although the perfect game and no-hit bid was taken away, Valdez regained her composure and finished the game strong allowing only that one hit in the fourth inning, while striking out two more batters in the top of the fifth frame.
“Julie almost made the play,” Cone said. “I mean, it was amazing that she got to that ball and she almost came up with it. We did score it as a hit because it was so far back here. It appeared that she would’ve been safe if we would’ve made the throw, but it was a great job of getting over here. I couldn’t believe it.”
The bottom of the lineup got things going for Hays in the second inning when Abbie Blackwell hit a sacrifice fly ball to bring in Illyanna Cisneros for the first run of the game.
Blumhagen then brought in another run with her triple into the outfield, followed up with a single by Madi Butler to plate the team’s third run of the inning. Hays scored four more runs in the third inning, which was started by an RBI double by Valdez, to build their lead to 7-0 entering the top of the fourth.
“I’ve been pitching a lot of BP (batting practice) to the kids,” said Cone. “And the kids that have the hot bats – kind of who I’ve been putting in the lineup – and that’s what worked tonight. At practice those kids are hitting the ball well and I’m noticing.”
The Lady Rebels sealed the game with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth frame, which was started by a triple from Bri Rodriguez.
Obtaining a convincing win against a district opponent was an important step in getting past a recent walk-off loss the team suffered to Vista Ridge just a few days before.
“Its very important for us to be able to put that behind us and move on,” Cone said. “And we did that and I’m very proud of the kids for that.”
Hays will now have a week off before the team faces district – leading Lake Travis Thursday.