Written by Matt Wixon
Lovejoy's 14 hits not enough in 11-8 loss to Buda Hays in 4A softball final
AUSTIN — A game with 32 hits is about as rare in softball as a chilly championship weekend at Red & Charline McCombs Field. But in the Class 4A state championship game Saturday, the difference was something that has separated winners and losers for years: The timing of the hits.
While Lovejoy’s bats went cold late, Buda Hays got the hits when they were needed most to pull out an 11-8 victory.
“They rallied with two outs. We did not,” Lovejoy coach Amanda Douglas said. “We had opportunities.”
Had its defense only needed to get two outs each inning, Lovejoy (35-9) would’ve won its first state title. In the first, fourth and seventh innings, Hays (32-10) had two outs before rallying for runs.
The final two-out rally came in the top of the seventh, which began with the score tied 8-8. Lovejoy’s Danielle Brochu, who pitched the final two innings in relief of Brittany Lewis, struck out the first batter of the inning and got the second out on a grounder. But Hays then hit five consecutive singles to score three runs.
Lovejoy pounded out 14 hits in the game, but the Leopards missed some big chances, including leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth.
“Around the sixth inning, it felt like we were about to bust it open,” said catcher Amanda Gray, who had three hits and two RBIs. “We had runners on most innings, or every inning, and we were just hitting it right to them.”
Lewis, who had thrown 164 pitches in Friday’s 12-inning semifinal victory, threw 108 before leaving after the fifth. The senior hadn’t been feeling well the last few days, Douglas said, and the muggy afternoon with temperatures in the mid-90s didn’t help.
“I can’t say enough good things about Brittany Lewis,” Douglas said. “She’s a competitor, she’s a fighter.”
In the bottom of the seventh, a one-out infield single by Ginger Hervey was all Lovejoy could produce. The final outs of Lovejoy’s memorable season came on a groundout and a pair of flyballs.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon