Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Small-ball strategy sends Lewisville to 5A state title game
AUSTIN — The nerves showed early in Lewisville’s first trip to the state softball tournament. But after a collection of early mistakes Friday put Lewisville in a hole, the Farmers piled up enough hits to climb into the Class 5A title game.
“We were just pressing early,” Lewisville coach Lori Alexander said after her team’s 5-2 semifinal victory over San Benito. “Once we settled down, everything came together.”
It came together with a small-ball strategy, which helped Lewisville (30-13) earn a matchup with Humble Kingwood (35-3) in Saturday’s 4 p.m. championship. With Lewisville trailing 2-1 in the top of the fifth, three consecutive Lewisville hitters laid down bunts.
The result was a pair of infield singles and a San Benito error that gave fuel to a four-run rally. Alexander said she wanted to put the pressure on San Benito (34-3).
“I even took the bat out of the hands of some of my better hitters,” Alexander said. “Just to make something happen.”
Lewisville tied the score, 2-2, on Gaby Vasquez’s bunt, and Maribeth Gorsuch and Miranda Worthington followed with fly outs that pushed runs home. When the inning was over, Lewisville led 5-2, and Gorsuch was in control in the pitcher’s circle.
Gorsuch (21-4), a freshman who didn’t pitch for part of the season because of an injury, allowed only two hits and struck out eight. She walked five batters, however, and some early control problems contributed to San Benito’s taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning. San Benito got the runs with a walk, a hit batter and three Lewisville fielding errors in the inning.
But it seemed only a matter of time until Lewisville’s hitters started adjusting to San Benito pitcher Amber Jasso. When the Lewisville players got a second at-bat against the junior pitcher, they made much better contact.
“We’re used to a lot faster pitchers,” said Worthington, who smashed a double to left-center in the fourth inning. “We needed to sit back a little better.”
Lewisville won’t need to sit back on pitches Saturday. The Farmers will be the underdogs in the matchup with Kingwood, which has won 23 straight games and was near the top of the 5A state rankings all season. Lewisville, by contrast, was the fourth playoff seed in District 5-5A.
Gorsuch will have the difficult task of cooling off Kingwood’s hitters. The lineup of mashers had nine hits Friday in a 9-3 victory over defending champ Deer Park.
“It’s going to be a tough ballgame,” Alexander said. “Hopefully we won’t come out as nervous as we did tonight. We’ll just play.”
And play for a state title. Not bad for a team making its first playoff appearance in six years.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.