Spanish Springs picked a good time to get its midseason speed bump out of the way and an even better time to get into late-season form. But Cougars ace Brette Lawrence picked a bad time to give up a pair of homers as Kalyn Paque’s three-run shot and Makenzie Hospodka’s two-run blast provided all the offense the Mustangs needed.
“They’re a good hitting team. That second home run, it was low and in. She hit a good pitch,” SSHS softball coach Jeff Davidson said. “The other one, she (Lawrence) did get up. That second one, she made a great pitch and their hitter put a good swing on it.”
The loss ended Spanish Springs’ winning streak at seven games. It’s the second straight year Damonte has taken down Spanish Springs in regional playoff action after the Mustangs lost four postseason games to the Cougars combined between the 2010 regional and state tournaments when Paque was a freshman.
Paque also pitched Damonte to the win, scattering six hits in a complete-game effort. She struck out four and walked four. The only run came on Myrissa Prince’s solo homer in the bottom of the fourth inning, giving Spanish Springs a 1-0 lead.
That’s when the Mustangs rallied against Lawrence, who had pitched 16 shutout innings in the regional tournament until the top of the fifth frame Friday evening.
After a leadoff single by No. 9 hitter Baylie West, Adelle Oaks pulled a single to right field, putting runners on the corners. It didn’t matter where they were on the bases because they got to trot home as Paque helped her cause and smashed the first pitch she saw out of the park for a three-run homer.
Lawrence walked the next batter she faced before inducing an infield pop-up for the inning’s second out.
Then Hospodka was also swinging at the first pitch, golfing a low and inside pitch way out of the ballpark to give the fourth-seeded Mustangs a 5-1 edge. Hospodka was 2-for-3 at the plate along with West.
Lawrence handed over pitching chores to freshman Ally Batastini to start the sixth. Batastini pitched two perfect innings of relief and was also the only Cougar with two hits off Paque. Lawrence gave up five runs on eight hits, while striking out four and walking one in the loss.
Spanish Springs stranded nine runners in the game, including the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. Paque recorded two outs after the first two batters of the seventh, but back-to-back singles and a somewhat intentional walk brought the tying run to the plate in the form of clean-up hitter Sidney Sinclair.
However, Paque had her number all day as Sinclair finished 0-for-4 at the plate by grounding into a 4-6 fielder’s choice to send Spanish Springs into the loser’s bracket final.
“In the end, they didn’t quit. We had bases loaded at the end. I was very proud of the team and the way they battled back,” Davidson said.
Spanish Springs advanced to the winner’s bracket final by clobbering Bishop Manogue 10-0 Friday afternoon.
The Cougars scored eight of their 10 runs with two outs and Lawrence was dominant in the circle, allowing four hits over the five innings. The junior southpaw struck out six and walked none. She faced two batters over the minimum thanks to her catcher, Sinclair, throwing out a couple runners attempting to steal second.
Spanish Springs posted a five spot in the top of the first and was never threatened by the No. 2 seed.
With two outs, Sinclair initiated the rally with an RBI single to center field.
The next four batters all drove in a run. Prince’s infield single knocked in courtesy runner Alyx Penrod. Batastini doubled off the fence, plating Prince. Kelsey Stroshine’s bloop single allowed Batastini to come home from second and Kayla Arterburn’s grounder just inside the third-base line went for a run-scoring double.
Spanish Springs tacked on three more runs in the top of the third, making it an 8-0 ballgame.
Stroshine led off the inning with a single and scored on Bayley Broadwater’s RBI single. Broadwater was thrown out trying to advance to second.
With two outs, a walk to Dani Smith and bloop single by Kelsie Merritt put two runners on. Lawrence drove one home with a double to right field, while the other scored on a Sinclair single.
In the fourth frame, Broadwater found the gap in left-center field for a double, sending Stroshine home after she had walked.
Spanish Springs set up the 10-run mercy rule with a run in the fifth. Lawrence scorched a line drive right over Manogue third baseman Chelsea Montoya’s head that rolled all the way to the fence for a two-bagger. Courtesy runner Karlie Merritt scored the 10th run thanks to an error.
Spanish Springs (25-9) will take on Reed today at 10 a.m. The winner gets a shot at a regional championship, but also guarantees its season continues next week at the state tournament.
“The only thing that matters now is the first game tomorrow. You have to come out and you have to play well, and that’s the only thing that matters right now,” Davidson said.