With a one-run lead Friday, Northwest’s Brianna Barnhill erased all doubt with one swing of her bat.
Her three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth broke open the game, and propelled the Lady Texans to a 5-1 bi-district playoff win over Weatherford.
Northwest (18-16) advances to face Midland in the area playoffs in a best-of-three series. Game 1 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in Brownwood. Game 2 is noon Saturday.
If necessary Game 3 will be played 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2.
This marked the third straight game the Lady Texans had to win to keep their season going.
“The last game of district we had to win that and force a playoff,” Northwest coach Tanya Morrow said. “Then we had to beat Timber Creek, and we got past them to advance.
“It’s all about the girls stepping up to adversity. They know what they have to do to take care of business.”
Northwest had to face a lot of adversity early as Weatherford’s Kelso O’Brien was dominant in the circle. She struck out four in the first two innings, and did not allow a hit ’til the fourth.
Northwest sophomore pitcher Catherine Totty was just as tough. She allowed leadoff hits in the first and third innings, but kept the Lady Roos off the scoreboard.
Totty ended up getting the win, going all seven innings, giving up four hits and striking out two.
“Defensively we played well, and offensively it took us a couple of innings, but we finally got going,” Morrow said.
A throwing error by the catcher allowed the first Lady Texan run in the fifth. Two batters later with two outs, Barnhill provided all the insurance Northwest would need with her three-run blast to center.
“Everybody had some timely hits,” Morrow said. “Once we laid off her rise ball and started staying on top we began to find some gaps.”
The Lady Texans took a 4-0 lead to the sixth. Weatherford scratched out their only run of the game in that inning with an RBI single from Tawnye Bramlett.
Northwest’s Sydnee Hinkle got that run right back in the bottom of the inning with her eighth home run of the year.
Morrow says taking down the champion of District 3-5A is an indicator of the tough play Northwest had to deal with.
“Our district prepares us,” she said. “We see some stiff competition, and we are stronger because of it.”