By Spencer Spilman
The Hays Lady Rebel softball team won a close game Thursday night against visiting district opponents Lake Travis Lady Cavaliers 2-0.
The game was filled with good pitching and error-free defense from both teams.
Lake Travis’ Emerald Pina pitched a strong six innings of work and was in control of the Lady Rebels hitters nearly the entire game. During her outing, Pina struck out seven batters and only gave up three hits and three walks. The defense behind her played a clean game as well, with zero errors.
On the other side, Hays’ Max Valdez pitched a game just as impressive as Pena’s. Valdez pitched a full seven innings and only allowed three hits, and didn’t give up a run in the complete game shutout. She struck out five Lake Travis hitters and walked four. Like the Lady Cavs, the Hays defense also played a clean error-free game and helped Valdez when she got in a jam in the final inning.
One bright spot for the Lady Rebel offense was Karina Rocha. She struck out in her first at-bat but made up for it later in the game by driving in both of the runs scored for Hays.
The fourth inning was started off with a hard-hit double by Illyana Cisneros, who was sacrificed over by Valdez. Rocha came up and hit an RBI single into the outfield to bring home Cisneros to take a one run lead.
The Lady Rebels got the leadoff runner on again to start off the sixth inning after Alyssa Martinez earned a walk. Rocha came to the plate with two outs in the inning and lined a pitch all the way to the left-center field wall which brought home Martinez from first base. Rocha walked into second base with a standup double, and gave Valdez one more run for insurance before going back out for the final inning.
But the final inning got a little too close for comfort for the Lady Rebels.
Valdez walked the leadoff batter and then threw a wild pitch to advance the runner to second base before walking the second batter. Valdez calmed down and struck out the next batter, and then got a ground-ball out, which moved the runners over to second and third base.
After working the count full, Valdez walked her third batter of the inning to load the bases with two outs in the seventh inning.
The intensity ramped up when Valdez threw a wild pitch that went to the backstop. Abbie Blackwell slid and grabbed the ball as Valdez sprinted towards home to try and make a play on the runner coming from third.
The throw from Blackwell was right on the money and the tag was just in time, and the Lady Rebels escaped in the game with an exciting final play.
Even though Valdez was in some trouble, Hays head coach Lisa Cone had confidence that she would get out of it.
“She doesn’t normally do that,” said Cone. “I knew she could get out of it, because she’s normally very mentally tough.”
The Lady Rebels will look to move on and continue the second half of district play next week.
Hays hosts Lehman at home on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.