Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Play at third stifles rally as Plano falls short in 5A semifinal
AUSTIN — Trailing by a run entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Plano was still confident Friday as its hitters prepared to make the most of the last three outs. The top of the order was coming up for the Wildcats, and then their song began playing over the loudspeakers.
“They played ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’” Plano coach Cynthia Zea said. “It was like this is a team of destiny.”
But unfortunately for Plano, its journey was destined to end in the Class 5A state semifinals at McCombs Field. The Wildcats put a runner on third base with one out in the seventh, but they couldn’t get the tying run in a 3-2 loss to San Antonio O’Connor.
“One base running mistake,” Zea said.
And one great play by O’Connor pitcher Kenedy Urbany. That’s what ended Plano’s final rally in its first state appearance.
Plano’s Kristen Miles, who hit better than .500 this season and came through for the Wildcats many times, led off the seventh with a hard grounder to the shortstop. Miles reached safely when the ball was mishandled and then stole second. Erin Lowell’s sacrifice bunt moved her to third with one out, and Plano knew how it wanted to get the tying run home.
MacKenzie Velasquez would bunt the ball into play, and as O’Connor made the throw to first, Miles would dart home. But the ball was bunted to Urbany, who made a very convincing fake throw to first and got Miles leaning toward home. Urbany threw to third and got Miles for the second out. Ashley McDowell, who had driven in runs in the first and the fifth, grounded out to third base to end the game.
Plano players were left in disbelief. They had come back from much bigger deficits in their last two wins — a pair of victories over Keller in the regional final. O’Connor (34-4) had built a 3-1 lead in the middle of the fifth, but even with temperatures in the mid-90s, Plano (39-5) wasn’t going to melt down.
But this time, Plano’s big rallies were just inches away. In the fifth, Plano had one out and runners on first and second when Velasquez hit a line drive toward third base. O’Connor’s Brittany Stone made a terrific play to snag it. Had the smash been an inch or two more to Stone’s left, Plano probably would’ve scored a run. It also might’ve opened the door for a bigger bang than the single run the Wildcats got in the inning.
An inning later, Plano’s Tori Seasor led off with a smash down the left-field line. She would’ve had a double, and possibly a triple, but the ball landed inches into foul territory.
That’s part of softball, Zea emphasized after the game. And it was a great game, she pointed out, and a great season.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Zea said. “The other team scored one more run. Give us one more inning and maybe we do it.”