By Moses Leos III
Even as the power went out Friday at the Lady Rebel softball field, Hays High kept shining a light on its march to the playoffs.
An efficient night at the plate, highlighted by a four run sixth inning, launched the Hays Lady Rebels to an 11-6 win over Austin High.
Hays head coach Lisa Cone said Friday’s win helps build the team’s confidence as they hit the final week of the regular season.
“It just gives us even more confidence later on this season,” Cone said. “It’s great to play at this level going into next week.”
Hays High’s offense didn’t waste time finding a rhythm against Austin pitcher Lexi Ybarra. Four runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the second inning, highlighted by an RBI single from Maria Arroyo, giving the Lady Rebels a 4-0 lead.
After Austin rallied for two runs in the top of the third, Hays’ offense responded in the bottom half.
The Lady Rebels pounded across two more runs, aided by back-to-back doubles from senior Alyssa Martinez and Nadia Netek.
Arroyo said the team’s ability to “get the hang” of Ybarra and the “feel of what’s she throwing to us” helped propogate success at the plate.
“We were all just getting on it, it was like a chain reaction,” Arroyo said.
Cone said the team’s ability to make good adjustments at the plate provided success.
“They were looking for the one pitch she was throwing that was waist high,” Cone said. “There was that one pitch that was right to drive. It was the one they were looking for.”
On the defensive end, Lady Rebel pitcher Nadia Netek controlled the Maroon bats in the circle, allowing only two runs and five hits through the first three innings of play.
Hays held a 6-2 lead and momentum. That all changed when a power outage led to a 40-minute delay in the top of the fourth frame.
When play resumed, Austin High took advantage and surged back into contention, cutting the Rebel lead to 6-4.
Cone opted to make a pitching change, swapping out Netek for freshman Max Valdez. She said the reasoning was to give a change of pace.
“I told Nadia that she wasn’t doing anything wrong. I just wanted to change it up,” Cone said. “But the delay didn’t help. Nadia was in a great rhythm, but it broke it up.”
Austin continued to hang tough with Hays, pulling to within a run at 7-6 in the top of the sixth frame.
But every time the Maroons responded, Hays answered right back. They did so once again in the bottom of the sixth inning as they manufactured a two out rally.
With two runners on and two outs, Hays’ Illyana Cisneros smacked an RBI double to left center field, giving Hays a 9-6 lead.
After Brianna Rodriguez drew a walk, Arroyo stepped up and delivered a bases clearing RBI triple to left center field.
Arroyo said she didn’t feel like the hit was “going to do much,” but that she “hit (the ball) as hard as I could.”
“I kept going around the bases and I was freaking out,” Arroyo said. “Once I got to (third base), I didn’t realize it. I was still thinking about my hit. It wasn’t the best hit, but it got the job done.”
As the regular season draws to a close, Hays will take on district frontrunners Bowie and Westalke in the coming weeks.
“We have to play our best games, both of those games,” Cone said. “We’re trying to end the season far on top as we can be. To build momentum for us going into next week.”