Going into Denton's regular-season finale, the Lady Broncos needed two things to happen to extend their season.
Denton had to take care of business against Braswell and needed Ryan to beat Wichita Falls Rider to force a play-in game between Denton and Rider.
The Lady Broncos used a five-run second inning and seven strikeouts from Riki Haase to skate to a 9-3 victory Friday, while Ryan beat Rider to set up Tuesday's play-in game for the fourth and final District 5-5A playoff spot.
"This is special for this school, program and the entire team, especially the seniors," Denton coach Maggie Stephenson said. "I noticed an intense focus in the girls this game, and we came out in the first pitch and just wanted it. [Haase] does a great job of keeping hitters off balance and changing speeds. We just fought this entire game. She's our leader in the circle, and this team is hungry to continue to play."
Braswell (5-16-1, 2-10 district) got an RBI double by Ceci Werley and took that 1-0 lead to the second, where Denton (11-16-1, 6-6) exploded.
Autumn Cooper's bloop single to shallow left tied the game at 1. A bases-loaded walk to Haase gave Denton the lead. Mailey Harris delivered a two-run single to pad the Lady Broncos' lead to 4-1. Paige Spehar coaxed a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-1.
"That inning was huge," Stephenson said. "Hitting is contagious. It only takes one hit. We scored in four consecutive innings, so we put constant pressure on their defense and even left runners on. We've had innings like that in the past, but it was key for this game."
Braswell got two runs back in the top of the third on an RBI single by Werley and a run scored on a passed ball to cut the lead to 5-3, but Denton responded in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double by Cooper and an RBI single by Haase.
Denton kept adding insurance runs, as Lydia Pluscht's RBI single in the fourth pushed the lead to 8-3 and Spehar conjured an RBI single in the fifth to make it 9-3.
The Lady Broncos will face Rider at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bowie.
"I love the opportunity for the program," Stephenson said. "I'm so excited for this group and proud that they battled. We stepped up the second round of district play, and we're led by our senior class. I'm confident in this group."
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Denton 9, Braswell 3
WP -Rikki Hasse. LP - Brooke Wachtel. 2B - B: Ceci Werley. D: Autumn Cooper, Jessica De La Sierra.