“You are going on anything,” Austin coach Terry Reyna told Angelina Leal, who was standing on third base representing the winning run.
Reyna was hoping that batter Morgan Westbrook would get green, meaning she would hit the ball to the outfield grass. Westbrook did but just barely, popping out to the second baseman, who had one foot on the grass but could not throw out Leal as she tagged up and slid into home plate to win the game 8-7 and the Class 6A second-round softball playoff series by a margin of 2-1.
“I was hoping for a little more green than that, but it worked,” Reyna said. “Angelina did a great job of waiting until the catch was made before she took off. The ball wasn’t ideal, but we had to take a chance.”
“There was no doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to score on that play,” Leal added.
In a weather-plagued series, Memorial won 8-5 in Game 1 Wednesday at Memorial. Austin won 12-8 on Friday at Austin to set up the final game on Saturday afternoon at Austin.
Memorial jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second inning of Game 3, but Austin scored four runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead. Tiana McFarland and Natalya Cuevas both singled and scored on Leal’s double. Leal scored as Westbrook reached on an error, and Westbrook scored on Sydney Carter’s single.
The Bulldogs scored again in the fifth as Jessalyn Shipley doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Westbrook’s single.
Memorial tied it up with three runs in the top of the sixth on hits by Emily Scofield, Ellen O’Neill, Claire Carothers and Mia Garza. The Mustangs then took the lead in the top of the seventh as Scofield doubled in two runs.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs’ game-winning rally began with Shipley slamming a single to left field. McFarland followed with a single and Cuevas hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Shipley.
Then the controversy began. With Cuevas on first, Leal doubled, and Cuevas stopped at third base. Leal didn’t see Cuevas on third and got caught in a rundown between second and third. During the rundown, Cuevas took off for home and the throw home beat her and she was tagged.
However, the umpire ruled there was catcher obstruction and Cuevas was ruled safe.
“The umpire ruled that the catcher had come across the plate and made contact with the runner, and he called obstruction,” Reyna said.
Memorial argued but to no avail. A few innings earlier, Memorial argued that it had a runner obstructed at the plate but did not get the call.
When play resumed, the score was tied, and Leal was on third base waiting for Westbrook to bat.
“The game didn’t go exactly as we expected, but our plan is to never give up,” Reyna said.
Austin next faces Tompkins in the regional quarterfinals. It’s a rematch of a first-round playoff matchup last year, which Tompkins won. Game 1 will be Friday at 6:15 p.m. at Tompkins, with Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. at Austin.
In other softball playoff action, Ridge Point beat Cy Creek to advance to the third round, where it will play Katy.
In baseball playoff action, Ridge Point beat Seven Lakes to advance to the second round, where it will play Stratford. Travis won its series against Cinco Ranch and will next play Memorial.