The Early Heartbreakers shook off a six-error performance and withstood a seventh inning rally by the Brownwood Bombers for a 9-7 win Saturday night at the Camp Bowie Sports Complex to earn a spot in today’s TTAS High School Eligible state title game.
At 10:30 a.m., the Heartbreakers will face the winner of the 8:30 a.m. rematch between the Bombers and Eastland. A second title game will start at 12:30 p.m., if needed.
Both teams got off to shaky starts as a combined seven errors resulted in nine runs in the first two innings, with Early taking a 5-4 lead.
After both teams settled down defensively, the Early bats started to heat up as the Heartbreakers built a five-run advantage.
Morgan Birrell’s two-out RBI single in the fifth inning brought home Julia Loudermilk for a 6-4 Heartbreakers’ lead. Loudermilk led off the inning with a walk against Brownwood pitcher Kate Atchley.
Early then tacked on three crucial runs in the bottom of the sixth. Tylene Middleton led off with a single and Tresta Donahoo was hit by a pitch with one out.
Bailey Harris and Shandi Winstead followed with back-to-back RBI singles over the glove of Brownwood shortstop Alex Williams. Loudermilk then plated Harris with an RBI ground out to push the lead to 9-4.
In the top of the seventh, Atchley and Kerri Jones reached on consecutive two-out Early errors, then Williams launched a three-run home run deep over the left field fence.
De Le Torre singled with two outs - her game-high fourth hit of the contest - but Early pitcher Janna Allen retired Neelie Darden on a ground out to first base to seal the victory.
Brownwood took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first as Sydnie Darden and Atchley reached on consecutive errors. Jones drove home Darden with an RBI single to left, while De La Torre knocked in Atchley with a single.
Early pulled even in the bottom of the first as Donahoo and Winstead both scored when Loudermilk reached on a one-out error.
Brownwood regained a 4-2 lead in the second inning as Jocelyn Woolf scored on an error and Tiara Brown came home from third base after Jones stole second base and the throw sailed into the outfield.
But Early grabbed a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the second as Birrell scored on an error, Middleton came home following a wild pitch and Harris’ RBI ground out scored Donahoo.
Early 7, Mabank 3
The Early Heartbreakers overcame their first taste of adversity in the tournament with a 7-3 come-from-behind victory over the Mabank Thunder Saturday morning.
After defeating Clyde, 9-0, and Hico, 9-1, Friday night, Early trailed Mabank, 3-1, after 3 1/2 innings. But the Heartbreakers scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth as an error ignited their rally.
Julia Loudermilk led off the fourth with a single to center field and advanced to second base on a throwing error. Kayla Dickerson followed and was plunked by a pitch.
Kish Suniga then laid down a bunt, but the throw to third base was errant and rolled all the way to the outfield fence. Loudermilk and Dickerson scored on the first throwing error, then Suniga raced home as the throw from the outfield sailed wide at the plate.
Leading 4-3, Early continued to pile on the runs. With one out, Tylene Middleton and Daniela Castillo each singled to left, then Tresta Donahoo followed with a bunt single to load the bases.
Bailey Harris’ RBI sacrifice fly drove home Middleton, while Shandi Winstead slapped a two-RBI single to left field, which plated Castillo and Donahoo.
The Heartbreakers gave up two runs in the top of the second inning, but closed the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the second when Morgan Birrell singled home Suniga.
In the circle, Janna Allen picked up the win as she did not allow a run after the third inning.
Brownwood 7, Eastland 6
The Brownwood Bombers survived their second consecutive nail-biter Saturday morning, coming from behind for a 7-6 win over the Eastland Lady Mavs.
The Bombers - who rallied past Cisco, 5-4, late Friday after throttling Alba-Golden, 10-1 - found themselves trailing Eastland, 6-4, heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
In the fifth, Kerri Jones and Alex Williams led off with back-to-back singles. With one out, Natalie De La Torre ripped a two-RBI triple down the right field line that scored both runners and pulled Brownwood even at 6-all.
A bunt single by Stacey Underwood and a walk by Jocelyn Woolf then loaded the bases, where Tiara Brown came through with an RBI ground out that plated De La Torre with the deciding run.
In the top of the seventh, Eastland got a runner to third base with one out, but Sayla Parsons retired the final two batters on a strike out and ground out to second base to preserve the victory.
Brownwood jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Sydnie Darden, who reached on a bunt single, scored on an error following a Jones single. Mallorie Maxwell then singled home Williams, who walked.
Eastland drew even at 2-all in the top of the third, but the Bombers regained a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the inning on Maxwell’s RBI double that drove home Kate Atchley, who singled.
Brownwood added its fourth run on an RBI infield single by Darden, which plated Neelie Darden, who singled.
But Eastland took its first lead in the top of the fourth with runs - two coming on No. 20’s single, one coming on No. 12’s triple and the final coming when 12 scored on a passed ball during No. 21’s at-bat.