By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
In a battle of district champions, the margin for error is slim.
The District 10-5A champion McKinney Boyd Lady Bronco softball team used timely hitting and their all-state pitcher to win 3-1, taking game one over 12-5A champion Rockwall at Boyd in the UIL Class 5A Region II Quarterfinal best-of-3 series.
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon at Rockwall, beginning at 1 p.m.
Despite allowing nine hits and walking one batter, Boyd starter Erin Riding picked up the win in the circle. Riding struck out eight Lady Yellowjackets over seven innings and did not allow an earned run.
The lone Rockwall run came in the top of the seventh inning, after Hayley Baker, Alyssa Henry and Bailey Wallace all reached base with no outs. After striking out Shelbi Court and getting Dani Greenlee to fly out, Riding was one out away from throwing a complete game shutout.
Down to her final strike, Payton Mills took a 1-2 pitch and singled to second base, allowing Baker to score from third base, cutting the Lady Bronco lead to 3-1. With Jocelyn Meyers up to bat and the leading run on first base, Riding got her to fly out to Mo McDonald in center field for the final out of the game.
Rockwall got a runner on base in every inning against Riding, including loading the bases in the first inning. With just one out, the sophomore struck out the final two batters of the inning to leave the Lady Yellowjackets with the bases loaded.
At the plate, two home runs was the difference for the Lady Broncos. In the bottom of the third, Jill Nicklas hit a line drive home run over the left field fence, scoring both her and McDonald to give Boyd a 2-0 lead.
Boyd would tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, when McKenna Henry homered to center field to make it 3-0.
McDonald and Nicklas both had two hits in the game, while Cassandra Heller, Bailey-Jo Jones, and Henry each had one hit against Rockwall’s Emily Cowan and Kayla Vandergriff. Cowan earned the loss for Rockwall, throwing five innings and allowing two earned runs.
Follow TownSquareBuzz.com on Facebook for live updates of Saturday’s game two action between Boyd and Rockwall. If Rockwall wins game two, the winner-take-all game three would start at 3 p.m.