One way or another, Aaliyah Gibson just wanted to end it.
Gibson did just that, slapping a bases-loaded single through the infield in the bottom of the seventh to send Westlake to a 2-1 win over visiting Cedar Ridge in Game 1 of their bidistrict playoff series Friday night.
Lindsey McLeod gave up just one run and two hits, striking out 10 in the complete-game win to out-duel Cedar Ridge’s Brooke Merrill.
Gibson had been struggling at the plate prior to the game-winner.
“I was pretty much in shock,” said Gibson of her hit. “I pretty much wanted to get the game over with.”
It was quite possibly the first game all season that McLeod didn’t enter with nerves, something the sophomore expects before every start on the mound.
“Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous,” she said. “I don’t know why. I just knew how bad I wanted to win this game … Everyone was up, you could see how bad everyone wanted it. It’s awesome to win in that kind of situation.”
The Chaparrals had a runner on base in every inning but couldn’t break through with their second run until the final frame.
“‘We need a run,’” Westlake coach Haley Gaddis told her team before the final inning. “It was great for Aaliyah to come through in the clutch.”
Stephanie Wong led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on a groundout by Gibson to make it 1-0 Westlake (28-5).
The Raiders (18-12-1) tied it up on a Brooke Saldana home run to left on a ball that sailed over the fence despite the windy, muggy conditions. It was the last time Cedar Ridge reached base, as McLeod retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Wong was 2-for-2 with a walk in the game, while Lindsey McLeod walked twice in the win.
In the seventh, Lacey Boyd worked a one-out walk on a full count, and Lauren McLeod followed with a bloop single to shallow right field.
Cedar Ridge opted to intentionally walk Wong and bring the infield in, but Gibson ripped a single through the drawn-in infield to keep the game from going to extra innings.
“Lately our bats haven’t been as hot but we’ve been working on it a lot,” Lindsey McLeod said. “We got hits when we needed them. I’m pretty proud of my team. This was so exciting.”
Gaddis kept the Chaps’ confidence high despite the lack of success at the plate. “That showed they have a lot of fight and don’t give up,” she said. “That’s gonna be a great thing for us, especially tomorrow.”
Game 2 is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Cedar Ridge, with Game 3 to follow (if necessary).
“Offensively we’ve had our ups, we’ve had our downs,” Gibson said. “Toward the end of the season we started struggling … We feel pretty confident, I think we can do it. We have to continue what we did at the end of the game – where everyone was up. It brings more confidence to the whole team and whoever is batting.”
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 F R H E
Cedar Ridge 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 0
Westlake 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 2 5 0
CR (18-12-1): Brooke Saldana 1-for-2, HR, R; Nicole Merrill 7 IP, 5 H, 5 K, 2 ER; WL (28-5): Stephanie Wong 2-for-2, 3B, R; Aaliyah Gibson 1-for-3, 2 RBI; Lindsey McLeod 7 IP, 2 H,10 K, 1 ER