By Richard Greene
The Liberty Hill Lady Panthers provided a rude welcome to the playoffs for the Decatur Lady Eagles Thursday night.
Liberty Hill pounded out six hits for five first-inning runs to set the tone for a 15-5 victory in six innings to take a 1-0 lead in the Class 3A Region I area round series at Waco ISD Sport Complex.
“They came out and jumped on us early,” said Decatur coach Neal Hall. “They hit the ball where we weren’t. We came back a little, but they kept hitting. We’ll have to find some way to rebound.”
Decatur will get its chance to tie the series at 6 p.m. Friday in Waco. If necessary, game three will follow.
“We’re pretty disappointed, but I’m sure we got it tomorrow,” said Decatur pitcher Megan Dittrich. “We weren’t prepared. We came out overconfident. Now, we know what they are like.”
Dittrich will need to find a way to slow the Liberty Hill offense, which pounded out 22 hits in scoring its 15 runs.
“This team hits,” said Liberty Hill coach Charice Hankins. “Tonight was a good night offensively. I was real happy with the offense. We were aggressive.”
Four of Liberty Hill’s hits did not leave the infield. Several more landed just in front of Decatur outfielders.
“A lot of their hits were weak bloopers,” said Dittrich, who struck out five and walked one. “They had one hard hit. We just didn’t adjust.”
After piling up six hits in the first, Liberty Hill added four in the second to score another two runs.
The Lady Panthers put the game away with a seven-run fourth inning. Kourtney Bevers provided the big blast, driving the ball to the left-center field fence to plate three runs. Bevers went 3-for-4 with five RBIs.
Liberty Hill scored three more in the inning after Bevers’ three-run double. Bailey Browder brought in two with a triple to right field.
Decatur had few answers offensively for Bevers, who limited the Lady Eagles to two hits.
“We’ve got to hit the ball,” Hall said. “That’s been our Achilles heel. When we don’t hit the ball. We don’t play well.”
The Lady Eagles turned an infield hit by Chelsea Patterson and a walk to Dittrich into two runs in the first inning. Jazmine Lujan brought in Patterson on a sacrifice fly to right field. Dittrich scored on a wild pitch.
Decatur scored three more runs in the fifth inning taking advantage of three Liberty Hill errors and a Nicole Thele RBI-single.
Thele came into the game to play right field in the fourth inning when third baseman Leia Andriotto injured her shoulder diving to stop the ball.
Andriotto was one of three Decatur players injured in the game. First baseman Vicky Mayo took a ball in the eye. Danae Schertz hurt her elbow diving back into first base. Of the three, only Mayo was able to finish the game.