JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
GIDDINGS — The Burnet High School softball team ended its season to Needville in a best-of-three series in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs May 8-9.
The Lady Dawgs (21-6-2 overall, 7-5 District 26-4A) lost the first game 11-1 in six innings and the last contest 2-1 in eight innings. But they rallied to win the second game 6-3 by overcoming a 2-0 deficit.
“When you’re in the playoffs, you really learn to understand the importance of each pitch, each at-bat, each defensive moment,” Burnet head coach Corey Bledsoe said. “You learn about adversity, struggles and about confidence. You learn to be your best every single moment.”
Ultimately, that explains how Burnet bounced back from the Game 1 debacle.
Needville’s first run of the series came on a solo homer by Kylie Matula that seemed to set the tone for the contest. The Apaches (25-6, 10-0 District 28-4A) scored at least one run an inning for six innings while belting out 10 hits and taking advantage of three free bases during the six-inning contest.
Meanwhile, Needville pitcher Victoria Moreno threw a one-hitter. Burnet’s lone run was unearned.
A 30-minute break between Games 1 and 2 allowed Bledsoe to get his players refocused. And he put Amber Womack in the circle for the second game.
“It’s always an advantage (having two pitchers),” Bledsoe said. “We have confidence in them both.”
Womack gave up one earned run and one unearned run in 5⅔ innings that allowed Needville to take a 2-0 lead. But when Womack left, Makenzie Carpenter, who was the Game 1 starter, returned with the bases loaded and needing one out, which she got off a ground ball.
Moreno began the sixth inning with a strikeout and a flyball for outs. But Burnet’s Vanessa Escamilla singled, Carpenter doubled and Marissa Escamilla brought them home thanks to a two-run triple. She went home on a fielder’s choice to give Burnet a 3-2 lead.
Needville tied the contest at the top of the seventh inning. But Womack drew a walk to begin the bottom frame. Shelby Wilson doubled, and Rose Bailey walked. That set up Carpenter’s bases-clearing hit for a 6-3 Burnet victory.
Bledsoe credited Carpenter for her mental toughness.
“She’s a competitor,” he said. “She understands the situation. She shook it off and began getting prepared to help her team when the next opportunity arose. She knew she didn’t have her best in Game 1. She’s confident that if she has her good stuff, then she would be fine. She hasn’t backed down from anyone all year.”
That was apparent during the final contest.
Carpenter gave up two earned runs off five hits with one free base and 11 strikeouts in eight innings.
Burnet scored its only run of the final contest in the first inning when Lexey Parker scored on an error after she singled to get on base. Moreno gave up four hits and relied on her team’s defense to make routine plays, including a double play in the seventh inning that ended Burnet’s rally.
For Bledsoe, the season’s ending didn’t detract from the program’s accomplishments. Burnet had a share of the District 25-4A crown and earned a bi-district championship for the first time in program history after beating Gonzales in a series. He credited the seniors for wanting to do more than qualify for the playoffs. Now, the players must learn to take the mindset of being good to being great, he said.
“We matured as a team this season and got the playoff feel,” he said. “We tasted a little of how the playoffs are. Take that to next year and apply it and know that it’s ours to take now.
ON OFFENSE: RBIs (series) – (Burnet) Carpenter 3, M. Escamilla 2, Ashley Hallmark 1.
ON DEFENSE: Game 1 – Carpenter (loss) 10 runs off 9 hits with 2 walks, 1 hit by a pitch and 6 strikeouts in 5 innings; Womack 1 unearned run off 1 hit. Moreno (win) 1 run off 1 hit with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. Game 2 – Womack 1 earned run off 3 hits with 3 walks, 1 hit by a pitch and 4 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings; Carpenter (win) 1 earned run in 1⅓ innings. Moreno 3 runs off off 7 hits with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts; Matula (loss) 1 run off 2 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts in 1⅓ innings. Game 3 – Moreno 1 earned run off four hits in eight innings; Carpenter (19-6) 2 earned runs off five hits, one player hit by a pitch and 11 strikeouts