An eighth inning walk-off home run was how the Lehman Lobos softball team (16-5) knocked off the Del Valle Cardinals in a thrilling 5-4 win Tuesday.
Going into the game, Lehman Head Coach Robert Young wanted his team to play every game as if it was the biggest game of the year.
“I told the girls all the games that have come before these don’t matter,” Young said. “The ones from here on out are the ones that matter.”
It didn’t take long for the Lobo offense to light up the scoreboard and provide support for starting pitcher Lexi Bechtel, who earned the win.
Following a lead off walk drawn by Ariana Ybarra, Lobo Emily Perry smacked a two-run inside-the-park homerun via a line drive to right centerfield. The big hit gave the Lobos an early 2-0 lead.
Del Valle got a run back in the second off an RBI double, but Lehman kept up the offensive pressure over the next few innings. Lehman’s Seryna Avalos scored on an errant throw in the fourth frame; Gabby Rodriguez drove in a run in the fifth inning with a double to right field. Going into the sixth frame, Lehman held a 4-1 lead and momentum.
Del Valle, however, responded by scoring three runs on two big doubles in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game. Neither team broke through in the seventh frame, leading to an extra inning.
The Lobos turned to catcher Audrey Dienhart, who made a pair of critical defensive plays to keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard.
Dienhart’s first defensive gem came when she threw a baserunner out at third base. Later in the frame, Dienhart recovered a passed ball and successfully tagged out a Cardinal baserunner who attempted to score from third base.
Those plays set up the Lobos in the bottom half of the frame.
Freshman Isabell Harrington, who had gone 0 for 3 with two strikeouts beforehand, crushed a walk-off home run to left field to win.
Young said Harrington had it in her to rise to the occasion.
“She’s a good kid,” Young said. “She kind of struggled early on, but I told her to get up there and swing out of her shoes.”
Lehman travels to play at Hays Friday, 7 p.m. at the Rebel softball complex.