Just hours after being elected FFA District 3 vice president, Makenzie Norden blasted a bases loaded double to give the Rangers a 6-4 lead last Thursday at Clements High School. The Rangers went on to win the game 14-10.
Going into the game, Clements’ record was 7-6 and Dulles’ 6-7. If Dulles had won, the two teams would have played a tie-breaker game last Monday. For winning, the Rangers will play the Katy Tigers, the number one ranked team in the country.
Clements got on the scoreboard first as Keagan Goldwaite singled in a run and Savannah Garza drove in two with a double to right field. Dulles refused to roll over as they scored single runs in the second and third innings and took a 4-3 lead in the fourth inning on singles by Ty Porter and Kreese Johnson.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Rangers loaded the bases on a single by Goldwaite, a hit-by-pitch for Garza, and a fielder’s choice by Kelly Eng, setting the stage for Norden’s blast.
“I was nervous, but I knew I had to get a hit. I just waited until I got a good pitch to hit,” Norden said.
Clements went on to score five more runs in the inning. Tori Garza, Avery Zimos and Savannah Garza each had singles in the inning.
Dulles scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning to cut the lead to 11-9. After two outs, Morgan Lara singled, Audrey Fong was hit by a pitch, Sarah Metzer was intentionally walked, and Taylor Ames cleared the bases with a double. After an error, Ericka Gomez hit a double to centerfield to score their last run of the inning.
Clements’ increased their lead to 14-9 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Back-to-back doubles by Emily Kraynek and Caitlin Goldwaite highlighted the inning. Dulles mounted a two-out rally in the last inning as Lara and Fong walked, and Metzer drove in one run with a single. The Rangers’ struck out the last batter to advance to the playoffs.
Avery Zimos and Keagan Goldwaite had three hits each for the Rangers.
“Makenzie’s hit was the turning point in the game. Absolutely. She has struggled a bit at the plate, but to get that big hit was great,” Clements’ coach Laine Skelton said. “Mackenzie was at the FFA district meeting this afternoon and she was elected District 3 vice president. She arrived right at game time and was sprinting to the dugout before the first pitch. Makenzie ran into the dugout and out onto the field and she really didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. She just came up clutch tonight. She had a great game. She is definitely the best first baseman in our district by far.”
Going into the playoffs, injuries have hurt the Rangers’ pitching staff.
“We have a staff of three varsity pitchers, but two are out with injuries, so freshman Avery Zimos is our starter. Avery broke her hand earlier in the season and has come back to play just as the other two pitchers went down,” Skelton said.
When asked what advice she had for Zimos for the Katy game, Skelton said, “I will just tell her to pitch. Don’t leave any balls over the plate, and let her defense help her. For most of the season our defense has been flawless. She needs to trust her defense.”