Keith Medford has never been one to make excuses, and the only softball coach Guyer has ever had took the blame for his team coming out in an offensive funk for Thursday’s District 5-4A game against Denton — a contest that originally was slated for Tuesday but was rescheduled twice due to inclement weather.
Despite the on-and-off status of the game, Guyer managed to win 5-1 and take advantage of Denton pitcher Natasha Kissell’s struggles with control, even if it might have played into a lack of actually pushing runs across for the Lady Wildcats.
“I wouldn’t say she was wild,” Medford said of Kissell, who walked 11 batters and hit another. “That’s too strong a term, but I think it wasn’t coming across the zone a whole lot and our kids are pretty selective, so it’s kind of hard to get an offensive rhythm when there’s that many walks.”
With 12 free passes to first base, Medford was concerned with the lack of run production, however, as his team left 12 runners on base and left the bases loaded twice.
“We cannot leave that many on base,” Medford said. “I don’t care about the hit total or the walk total, that’s the stat we’re focusing on after this. We can’t do that.”
For a while Thursday, it seemed as though that would come back to bite Guyer, as Denton scored a run in the second inning when a throw from first baseman Shayne Starkey sailed wide of catcher Megan Washam after Guyer (19-3-1, 7-2 district) recorded an out at first base, allowing Kissell to score.
That took the score to a 2-1 Guyer advantage after the Lady Wildcats scored twice in the bottom of the first on a two-run single from Kylie Miyata, and it stayed that way until Guyer put up two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Denton coach Rhana Ramos hung her hat on the fact that her team played with Guyer for those four innings after the Lady Broncos (12-10-1, 1-8) lost by just three runs earlier in the district season to Guyer, which is in a tie for second place with Wichita Falls Rider.
“We’re one inning away from putting all these games away,” Ramos said. “Last time we played them 6-3 and they scored all their runs early and didn’t score the rest of the game. I have to give it to them. They found a way to get on base and score more runs than we did.
“We outplayed them. We outhit them. We just have to have more confidence to finish the game.”
Medford said his team came out flat from the beginning and played far from its best.
“I’ll take the blame for not having my kids ready,” Medford said. “That falls squarely on me and that won’t happen again this year.
“Tonight we were flat and we just didn’t play our best game. I don’t want to take anything away from Denton High, but we didn’t play our best and we still won 5-1, which is really not a close game.”
The Wildcats, the No. 23 team in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A state poll, extended their one-run lead in the fifth with back-to-back RBIs from Starkey (on a bases-loaded walk) and Kaitlyn Thomas. Then in the bottom of the sixth, Guyer erased any doubt with a lined shot off the bat of Lauren Lindgren to right field that scored pinch-runner Alyssa Dixon.
Guyer also got a big performance from a new face at shortstop. Tara Solomon, making her first start at shortstop since early in the nondistrict season, had several big defensive plays, including a double play in the seventh inning after a leadoff single. Guyer turned three double plays on the night.
“There’s a couple of things we can lean on tonight,” Medford said. “We started a different kid at shortstop and she did a great job.
“I thought we played great defensively.
“When one thing’s not working, they lean on one or two other things, and we’re not going to beat ourselves up for winning. There’s no stat in the stat book for an ugly win. It’s a win or a loss, and at this time of year we’ll take it.”
Either way, Guyer has a quick turnaround. The Lady Wildcats will travel to Trophy Club Nelson tonight for their second district game in as many days. Nelson shut out Guyer on March 12 — the only time Guyer has been blanked this season.
In that game, Nelson pitcher Ashley Dumoulin gave up two first-inning hits and then tossed six hitless innings as the No. 22 Lady Bobcats played flawless defense.
Now Guyer will have a shot at retribution, although Medford just sees it as an opportunity for his team to improve.
“We look forward to a challenge against a really good state-ranked team,” Medford said. “We look forward to that challenge. We know Ashley’s a really good pitcher, and we know we’ll have our hands full because she shut us down last time. I don’t know if it’s revenge, but we’re motivated to show them we’re better than what we were the first time we played them.”
GUYER 5, DENTON 1
WP — Suzette Palmer. LP — Natasha Kissell. SV — Shayne Starkey. Records — Denton (12-10-1, 1-8). Guyer (19-3-1, 7-2).