ABILENE — The Bangs Lady Dragons’ offensive fortunes in Thursday night’s opening game of their Region I-2A softball area playoff series against the Wall Lady Hawks can best be summed up by Keelee Allen’s at-bat to begin the bottom of the seventh inning.
Allen lashed a bullet line drive at the legs of Wall pitcher Shannon Carrico — who is bound for Texas Tech — to begin the inning. With Carrico’s kneecaps in peril, the Wall hurler flipped her glove in the way and the ball got entangled in the webbing for an out.
Such was the case for the Lady Dragons most of the night as Bangs suffered a 5-0 loss to the defending regional champion Lady Hawks.
Carrico limited the Lady Dragons (22-7), who saw their 12-game win streak snapped, to just three hits. Meanwhile, Wall (23-4) collected nine hits off Bangs pitcher Charity Sagebiel — who tossed a no-hitter in her last outing against Eastland — as most of the Lady Hawks’ hard-hit balls found gaps in the outfield.
“We did have some hard-hit balls, but you have to give Wall credit for positioning us well on defense,” said Lady Dragons first-year head coach Corey Bledsoe. “They had a good scouting report and played good defense. I just hope we can come back tomorrow and play well and with confidence.”
While the Bangs offense has proven to get stronger as games progress, in Game 1 it was Carrico picking up steam in the latter stages of the contest. Carrico surrendered hits in each of the first two innings, but only one more the rest of the evening. She also picked up five of her eight strikeouts after the fourth inning.
“We heard about this girl all year long and we were a little rattled,” Bledsoe said. “I just don’t think we showed up ready. No disrespect to Wall, they played an outstanding game, I just think we were nervous.”
Beth Mullins extended her hitting streak to 25 games with a one-out single into the bottom of the first, then Jaylee Roberts doubled with one out in the second. Sarah Garcia reached on a one-out bunt single in the sixth, while Mullins was plunked with a pitch to start the fourth to account for the only Bangs base runners.
Wall took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Carrico doubled off Sagebiel — who struck out seven and left seven base runners stranded — with two outs ahead of an RBI single by Melissa Fuchs.
The Lady Hawks stretched their lead to 2-0 in the third inning as Lauren Partusch reached on an infield single ahead of Carrico’s RBI double.
Wall’s final three runs scored in the fifth as inning as Krystal Dusek walked ahead of Savanna Daniels’ RBI triple. Daniels then scored on an RBI double by Fuchs, which was followed by an RBI single from Hunter Graham.
The Lady Dragons must win twice today — beginning at 4 p.m. back at Abilene Christian University’s Wells Field — to continue their season.
“I challenged the girls and told them tomorrow’s a new ball game,” Bledsoe said. “You have to adjust from tonight and take what you can out of it, then wake up tomorrow, put it past you and go play ball.”