Early offense was the key for the state-ranked Hays Rebels softball team Friday as it cruised past the Westlake Chaparrals 7-2, notching the program’s 10th straight win in a row.
Hays leaned heavily on freshman starting pitcher Katie Noble, who struck out two batters and allowed two runs on six hits over the course of seven innings.
Despite falling into early inning jams, Noble escaped trouble, backed by the assistance of the Rebel defense.
With runners on second and third base and only one out in the opening frame, Hays’ third baseman Brianna Rodriguez successfully fielded a squeeze bunt to throw out a potential run at home plate. Noble then forced a groundball out to eliminate the threat and keep the game scoreless.
Hays capitalized on its defensive prowess in the next half-inning with back-to-back leadoff singles from Kaylin Davis and Kari Louk.
Davis scored on an errant Chaparral throw, while Louk came in on a wild pitch. Rodriguez scored via a Westlake error, which increased Hays’ lead to 3-0.
While Westlake got a run back in the top of the second inning, the Rebels slammed on the gas pedal the rest of the way.
An RBI triple from Davis, followed by an RBI single from Rodriguez, increased the Rebel lead to 5-1. Rodriguez scored on a Westlake throwing error to pad Hays’ lead to 6-1.
Both pitchers settled down and only two total runs were scored the rest of the way.
Hays’ final run of the night came via an RBI triple from Louk that scored Emma Morales.
While there was traffic on the basepaths, Hays head coach Lisa Cone said Noble took care of business en route to earning the win.
“There was a lot of good,” Cone said. “Defensively, we made every play that we had to. We did play a lot of good defense.”
With a possible district title on the line, Cone said the team aims to work hard as they head into the backstretch of the regular season.
“We’re taking it one game at a time and focusing on what we need to do to get better,” Cone said. “Now we know what we have to work on.”