The coin flip before game three of the Travis and Bellaire playoff series at Katy Taylor High School last Friday may have been an omen of how close the game would be as the coin landed on its side in the soft dirt at home plate.
Since neither coach had called sides, the coin was flipped again, and Bellaire won making the Cardinals the home team and setting the stage for a walk-off win seven innings later.
The Travis Tigers were trailing 8-5 in the top of the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Mady Leighton hit a ground ball to the shortstop. Skie Villani, running from second base, crossed in front of the fielder as she was in the process of throwing home and caused the throw to go over the head of the catcher as two runs scored. Bellaire protested but to no avail, and the inning ended with the game tied at 8.
With two out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Hannah Fradkin reached on an infield hit. Megan Morris then hit a ground ball to the second baseman, but just as she went to field it, Fradkin ran in front of her, causing a distraction and the ball ending up in right field and runners on second and third base. Travis protested but to no avail. Braidee Glenn then slammed a line drive off an infielder’s glove and the Cardinals were victorious 9-8. They will play Atascocita in the regional semi-finals this weekend.
Senior Jolie Duong pitched all three games for the Cardinals. When asked if she was tired, Duong said, “Definitely yes! I was tired, but I knew I couldn’t give up, because my team wasn’t going to give up.”
Travis led off game three with three runs in the first inning, but Bellaire came back with five runs in their half of the inning. “Coming back like that was huge. When we get down, we always want to come right back,” Duong said.
A number of players stepped up during the series, but the Cardinals’ freshman first baseman Cole Johnson may have been a game changer with her defense at first base. Johnson made several key plays in game two to keep the Tigers from getting closer and did the same in game three. “In the moment, I just knew I had to make those plays,” Johnson said. “I just reacted because we needed those outs.”
“The way the whole series went, neither team deserved to lose. I told my kids before game 3, that if we could score nine runs, we would win. We were down to our last out, but we go there,” Bellaire coach Brien Tuffly said. “That Travis team is a helluva ball team. They can hit, they are well coached, and their pitcher just gutted it out. It’s a shame some one had to lose this series.”
Travis will lose shortstop Skie Villani and catcher Shaina Amir to graduation but starting pitcher Rachel Ybarra is just a freshman and homerun hitter Noemi Cortez is a junior, giving Tiger fans optimism for next year.