By Colin Bado, TSB Staff
It may have taken nine innings, but the McKinney Boyd Lady Broncos will take the win.
Throughout the duration of Friday’s Class 5A Area Round playoff game against Mesquite Horn, the Lady Broncos struggled to take advantage of runners on base against Mesquite Horn’s Ashley Moore. Playing to a 1-1 tie through eight and ½ innings, Boyd’s Cassandra Heller rose to the occasion in the bottom of the ninth inning.
With two runners on base and two outs, Heller connected with a two-strike pitch from Moore and sent it to shallow right field. Boyd left fielder Riley Wagner rallied around third with an elated smile and arms flailing as she headed for home, giving Boyd a 2-1 game one softball victory in the best-of-three series at Bronco Field.
After hitting the game winning walk-off hit, Heller couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear.
“I’m exhilarated,” said Heller. “My first four at bats I didn’t get on base, and then with two strikes I was able to get a hit for the team.”
Game two is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Mesquite Softball Complex. If Horn wins, then the series rubber match will immediately follow.
The Lady Broncos knew they would need a good night’s rest after enduring a vigorous game that ended in elation.
“It’s been a busy week and school’s been tough,” said Heller. “I’m going to straight home and get some sleep so I’ll be prepared for tomorrow.”
“I’m proud of the girls,” said Boyd head coach Mo Fritz. Despite another game scheduled in less than 13 hours after this one ended, Fritz had no quarrel with the girls celebrating their victory.
“The girls should enjoy the excitement,” said Fritz. “They earned it. They are really good at getting back to business when they need to.”
The game was scoreless through five innings, but that quickly ended in the top of the sixth with Horn’s Aubree Turbeville hitting a blast into deep left field. Wagner was unable to make the play as Turbeville jogged into second base. Moore took advantage of her teammate in scoring position and slapped a single to shallow right, brining in Turbeville for the 1-0 lead. Before Horn could build off of their rally, Riding struck out the final out of the inning.
Without hesitation, Boyd was quick to respond. Leadoff batter McKenna Henry tied the game with one swing of the bat, striking a solo home run over the right field wall. While Boyd tried to create their own rally, the Horn defense barred the Lady Broncos from further damage. Boyd’s Bailey Jo Jones hit a towering fly ball to deep left centerfield, but Morgan Shanz tracked the ball down and made an exceptional catch.
The Lady Broncos’ inability to generate hits could have been their downfall, but thanks to stout pitching and solid defensive play, Boyd was able to take the first game in the series.
“We’ll make some adjustments with our hitting tomorrow, but we’ll continue to stay aggressive,” said Fritz.
With the score tied at one after seven innings, Boyd pitcher, Erin Riding continued her unrelenting dominance from the mound, deterring the Lady Jaguars form scoring another run and taking the lead. In game one of a best of three series, Riding continues to illustrate her importance to Boyd’s success after striking out 17 and allowing one run.
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Friday’s District 10-5A & 13-4A Softball Games:
Plano East 0 Rockwall 5 (Rockwall wins 1-0)
Plano West 13 Rowlett 5 (Plano West wins 1-0)
Rockwall-Heath 2 Plano 6 (Plano leads 1-0, Game 2 Saturday @ 1 p.m. in Wylie)
Ennis 12 Royse City 2 (Ennis leads 1-0, Game 2 Saturday @ 6 p.m.)
Lovejoy 7 Whitehouse 2 (Lovejoy wins 2-0)
Photos by TSB photographer Sawyer Erickson.