By Colin Bado, TSB Staff
MESQUITE — In game two of the Class 5A Area round of the softball playoffs, the McKinney Boyd Lady Broncos illustrated why they are one of the premier high school softball teams in the state of Texas.
Less than 24 hours after Cassandra Heller had a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to help Boyd take game one of the best-of-three series against Mesquite Horn at home, Boyd carried its momentum over to the Mesquite Softball Complex on Saturday morning.
Boyd will face Rockwall in the Regional Quarterfinals next week. Times and locations will be announced soon.
Sophomore pitcher Erin Riding continued her ability to govern the opposition from the mound, striking out 13 batters in a 9-0 shutout over the Lady Jaguars. Despite finding herself in numerous predicaments with runners in scoring position, Riding maintained her composure and stayed focused, keeping the Lady Jaguars scoreless. Riding has over 300 strikeouts during the 2013 season.
Unlike Friday night’s victory, Riding received plenty of run support from her teammates. Boyd accumulated 13 hits for 9 runs in 7 innings. Junior catcher Maddy VonHagel accounted for three runs with a critical home run over the left-center field wall in the top of the sixth inning.
“I feel elated,” said VonHagel. “I’m happy for the team and Erin (Riding) did a great job. Without her, we wouldn’t be where we are. Today was a good change of events after last night.”
VonHagel’s first home run couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Boyd was up 2-0, but her three-run blast gave the Lady Broncos some breathing room. Despite VonHagel’s inability to conjure a hit in Boyd’s previous game, she persevered and came through for her teammates.
Boyd third baseman McKenna Henry fought through a knee injury the entire season and had only recently rejoined her teammates on the field. Even though it took her a few games to establish her bearings at the plate, she has come out of her slump, hitting two home runs in two games. Henry hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to extend the Lady Broncos lead.
“Our last district game was my first game back from my knee injury,” said Henry. “Unlike last year, we played in a tough district. The district helped prepare us for playoffs.”
Boyd head coach Moe Fritz emphasized that the girls would continue to be aggressive entering Saturday’s game. Horn pitcher Ashley Moore struck out 12 batters last night, but a resilient Boyd team came out hitting on Saturday, only striking out seven times.
“I’m happy we scored nine runs today,” said Fritz. “Defensively we played well and Erin continues to stay focused and in the zone.”
Riding’s heroics were only part of Boyd’s dominance. A terrific defense also stood behind her on Saturday. Shortstop Jill Niklas helped turn a perfectly executed 1-6-3 double play in the bottom of the third inning.
In the bottom of the seventh with the game on the line, Horn refused to go down without a fight. Morgan MaCcalum and Elisia Powell each got on base with singles. With only one out and runners on the corners, Riding took matters into her own hands and struck out the final two batters.
Boyd’s initial lead came early in the top of the second. Horn catcher Miranda Dupree attempted to throw out VonHagel as she stole second, but her throw rolled into centerfield, enabling Henry to score from third.
Boyd’s second run came in the top of the fourth inning off of VonHagel’s squeeze bunt. After the bunt went down, Nicklas raced home from third base, but found herself in a pickle as Horn differed from taking the easy out at first. Nicklas maneuvered between third base and home plate. She dove for home and Horn was unable to make the tag.
The Lady Broncos final run came off a RBI double by Riley Wagner, giving Boyd a commanding 9-0 lead.