JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — Now that the Burnet High School softball team has captured its first bi-district championship, the Lady Dawgs are looking to add to the trophy case.
But standing in the way are the Needville Bluejays, the District 28-4A champions.
The two teams will begin a best-of-three series at Giddings High School, 2337 N. Main St. Game 1 begins at 5 p.m. May 8 with Game 2 starting 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. The third contest, if necessary, will be played at 11 a.m. May 9.
The Bluejays (21-5 overall, 10-0 district) enter the series after sweeping El Campo 10-0 and 12-5 last week, which stretched their winning streak to 14.
“Needville is a very solid team,” Burnet head coach Corey Bledsoe said. “They have good pitchers and play great defense. They have three or four power hitters. They have speed throughout their lineup.
The team is led by Mari Cranek, who signed to play for the University of Alabama and was called a triple threat by head coach Patrick Murphy because of her ability to hit from the left side and play multiple positions. She had six hits in the series against El Campo.
The big hitters against the El Campo, however, were Megan Crosby and Caroline Briscoe.
Briscoe had two RBIS off three hits in the first contest, while Crosby, who is committed to Sam Houston State University, had four RBIs and four hits in Ggame 2.
The Lady Dawgs (22-4-2 overall, 7-5 District 26-4A) will counter with pitchers Makenzie Carpenter and Amber Womack. Carpenter (18-4) has a 0.63 ERA. As a team, Burnet has a fielding percentage of .934.
“It’s very important our pitchers throw strikes and pound the zone,” Bledsoe said. “On the other side, we have to continue to play great defense. That’s the mindset we’ve had since day one.”
The Bluejays also use a trio of pitchers led by Kylie Matula, who is committed to Texas State University, and Victoria Moreno, who went the distance in the bi-district sweep of El Campo. In 13 innings, she gave up five runs off 15 hits without a walk and struck out seven.
“She throws in the mid-50s and locates the ball (in spots she’s aiming for),” Bledsoe said. “She’s a great pitcher, especially when she’s on.”
Still, he said, he likes the matchup against Moreno. He points out that the Lady Dawgs had 23 hits in the series sweep over Gonzales the previous week. They have a batting average of .355 with an on-base percentage of .423. Now it’s a matter of bringing home runners by stringing together hits and eliminating base-running mistakes.
“I’m confident in our bats,” he said. “Our girls are confident as well. We’re getting our confidence back, and we’re ready to make a push. We want to have a mindset of being aggressive on the bases.”
Students finished three days of state testing May 7, but Bledsoe doesn’t believe that will play a factor in the series.
“Our girls are mentally strong,” he said. “They love softball. We’re working every day.”