By Kyle Gregory
Westlake Picayune Contributing Writer
The District 15-5A softball standings got a little but murkier Tuesday night as Lake Travis upset league leading Westlake 2-1 with a seventh-inning rally.
“Anytime that you only have three hits, and you sit on one run the entire game, that’s not a good spot to be in,” Westlake coach Haley Gaddis said. “We sat on one run, and we were hitting the ball and nothing went through for us.”
While the teams played seven innings, only two ended up mattering.
Westlake earned a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Stephanie Wong singled and was bunted over to second by Lauren McLeod. Liz Carter then knocked her home with a base hit of her own.
“[Lake Travis pitcher] Zoe [Bacon] is a great pitcher, for some reason we have a hard time hitting her,” Carter said. “You can’t really win with one run on the board. It’s really hard. It’s one of those games that just doesn’t go your way, but it’s nothing that we can’t bounce back from.”
After the first inning, it was a duel between Bacon and Westlake pitcher Carter, as the Chaps clung to their one run lead.
Both pitchers were lights-out through most of the game. Carter didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning and exited the game unscored upon. After the first, only three Westlake hitters reached base against Bacon.
The Chaps only other scoring threat came in the top of the sixth, when Carter sent a groundball down the third base line that she stretched into a double when the right fielder bobbled it. Westlake couldn’t capitalize, and Carter was stranded.
The Lady Cavs were similarly challenged offensively. Lake Travis managed to load the bases against Carter in the bottom of the sixth, but Carter and the Westlake defense worked out of the jam.
“I had a lot of confidence in my defense,” Carter said. “I was focusing on hitting my spots. I’ve been practicing hitting my spots, and I think I did that well. It was a tough one, but I think the defense was pretty solid.”
Lake Travis finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh. Lindsey McLeod came on in relief of Carter and struck out the first batter that she faced. The next hitter reached on a groundball when the throw from first base hit her in the helmet. A wild pitch and a groundout later, and she was on third base.
With the tying run on third, McLeod worked Lake Travis hitter Sarah Pannkuk to a full count, but Pannkuk singled to the right side and knocked the runner home. Lake Travis’ next batter also singled and at that point, Carter reentered the game at pitcher.
With runners on first and second, Carter walked the next batter to load the bases. She then faced off against her Lake Travis counterpart, Bacon. Carter worked another full count, but on the final pitch, Bacon checked her swing on a ball outside to earn the walk and send home the winning run.
Carter pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on one hit. She struck out eight and walked five. McLeod pitched two-third innings and allowed one unearned run on two hits. She struck out one and walked zero.
Wong and Carter earned the Chaps only hits. Carter was 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI.
“We just really have to show the team that we are,” ,” Carter said. “I don’t think this game really showed what we can do at all.”
Tuesday’s loss ties Westlake and Bowie 9-2 at the top of the District 15-5A standings. Westlake hosts Austin Friday at 7 p.m., while Bowie faces Del Valle in both teams’ regular season finales.
“I think we’ll be fine; I think we’ll bounce back,” Gaddis said. “We go one game at a time. If we happen to be district champs, that’s great, but our focus right now is on Friday, and we’ll think about the playoffs past that.”