EARLY — Fresh off a bi-district sweep of Coahoma, the District 6-3A champion Early Lady Horns look to continue their run toward Austin as they clash with the Boyd Lady Jackets in a best-of-three Region I-3A softball area playoff series.
Game 1 is slated for 6 p.m. Friday, with Games 2 and 3, if needed, to follow at 10 a.m. Saturday — all at Granbury High School.
The Lady Horns (24-7) rolled past Coahoma, 9-4 and 8-3, last weekend.
“We performed pretty well,” said Lady Horns head coach Alfonso Chavez. “We hit the ball very well, we did very well on the bases as well, and we only had one error.”
Offensively, the top of the order — Parker Smith, Sydnee Shea, Makalya DeLeon and Laiken Reagan — continue to lead the charge for Early. The foursome combined for 17 hits, 12 runs scored, 12 RBIs and six extra-base hits — four doubles, a triple and an inside the park home run — in two games against Coahoma.
“The top of the order is something else,” Chavez said. “We have Parker Smith leading off and she leads the team in batting average and runs scored. After that we have three people who can either play small ball or go long. That really helps because you don’t know what we’ll do with those three, we can go either way. Sydnee has over 50 RBIs, Makayla has more than 40 and Laiken is in the upper 20s.”
As dangerous as the top of the order is, the Lady Horns can produce runs from anywhere in the lineup as Ashlyn Kirby, Shauna Kay Connelly, Emma Loven, Vance-Cady Gordon and Gabby Constancia are more than capable of driving in runs.
“Seven of the nine have gone yard, so we have a pretty good line up,” Chavez said. “Runs can come from anywhere because we have a little more power this year than any other year I’ve been here.”
In the circle, DeLeon collected her 500th career strikeout earlier this season after overcoming a rocky start. Reagan has stepped in at times and created a stellar 1-2 combination.
“Makayla started a little bit slow but now she’s pitching on all cylinders,” Chavez said. “When you have a No. 2 like Laiken, you can always go to her if Makayla isn’t on. That’s a good thing because most school this size don’t have another person to go to. But we’re going to stick with Makayla as much as we can. If we have to play three games, she’s gone three games before and gets stronger. She always better the second game than the first.”
Boyd (11-17) is coming off a bi-district upset of Breckenridge, sweeping the Lady Bucks, 10-0 and 10-9.
The Lady Jackets average six runs per game and bat .333 as a team with a .407 on-base percentage and 16 home runs. Offensive leaders include Kayleigh Pappajohn (.398, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs), Kristin Rasbury (.395, 6 HRs, 37 RBIs), Jules Tullos (.366, 26 RBIs), Lindsey Thorpe (.351, 3 HRs, 20 RBIs) and Sydney Langley (.347, 4 HRs, 22 RBIs).
Defensively, Boyd owns a .916 team fielding percentage, but a 6.36 team ERA. In the circle, Rasbury is 8-9 with a 5.12 ERA in 16 starts, while Kristen Whatley is 3-8 with a 8.88 ERA in 11 starts.
“I don’t know much about Boyd other than they beat a pretty good Breckenridge team and I wasn’t expecting that,” Chavez said. “We just have to play our game, keep hitting the ball and play good defense.”
The series winner will face either Clyde or Peaster in the Region I-3A quarterfinals next weekend.