When Guyer and Fort Worth Brewer’s district schedules came to an end on Friday, each team was standing on level footing after 14 games with just a coin flip left to decide their playoff-seeding fates.
Whether it’s heads or tails, Guyer put itself in position for a potential No. 3 seed in the playoffs with its 5-2 win over the Lady Bears, who had been tied atop the district with Wichita Falls Rider and Trophy Club Byron Nelson with a district record of 10-3.
With the Lady Wildcats a game behind Brewer at 9-4 coming into Friday’s senior night tilt at Wildcat Field, they knew what type of battle was in store for them.
“These two teams have been in big games all year because our district is so tough,” Guyer head coach Keith Medford said. “The four teams that qualified for the playoffs, we hope it will pay off for us. Every night is like a playoff game and every single night we lined up this year, you couldn’t mark down a win. With the competition in our district, I think we are prepared for things [against 6-4A] in the playoffs.”
Shayne Starkey (2 for 3) and Megan Washam (2 for 4) led the Lady Wildcats with two RBIs apiece while Suzette Palmer pitched all seven innings, holding the Lady Bears to just four hits with her off-balance-inducing approach that gave way to bevy of ground balls and popups.
“She’s not a big strikeout pitcher,” Medford said. “I think her strikeouts come in crucial situations, though. She’s a senior four-year letterman — nothing bothers her and she’s very determined. Our catcher Megan does a great job of calling her. She kept them off balance and there weren’t a whole lot of balls that were hit tonight.”
After stranding two runners in the first inning, the Guyer offense jumped on Brewer starter Sarah Miller in what turned out to be a difference-making third inning.
The leadoff hitter Starkey and Kaitlyn Thomas started off the inning with singles to set up Washam for a first-pitch, two-run double to left field to put the Lady Wildcats ahead 2-0. Palmer added an RBI groundout to give Guyer an important three-run lead.
“When you put three up, it kind of puts the pressure on them,” Medford said. “It was fairly late in the game, so they were running out of opportunities. They are a great team, though, and they came back and scored two on us. I knew they weren’t going to quit, and we as a team knew it wasn’t going to happen.”
Starkey continued her strong-hitting performance with an RBI single to center field in the fourth inning to pad the Lady Wildcats’ lead to 4-0.
“She’s been a great leadoff kid for us,” Medford said of Starkey. “She gets the job done. She gets on base a lot and has come up big in crucial situations, and has in the past couple weeks. She’s hitting the ball well, and that’s what you hope out of a leadoff kid.”
After a one-two-three top of the fifth inning for Palmer that ended on a strikeout of Micaela Sanchez, the heart of Brewer’s order came up in the sixth inning and it didn’t take long for the Lady Bears to scratch themselves back into the game.
Destiny Chavarria reached on an infield hit to start the inning, Miller popped up for the first out and Carissa Luna drew a walk to give Brewer a chance at getting back in the game.
Palmer got Delilah Gallegos to pop up to her for the second out, and it looked as if Jordan Kissleburg’s popup behind first base, tracked down by speedy second baseman Kylie Miyata, was going to be the final out of the inning. Instead, the ball hit off Miyata’s oncoming glove and fell for a costly two-run error.
Palmer then beaned Kaitlyn Calhoun to put runners on at first and second, but Krystal Dodson’s rope was snagged by Thomas in center field to neutralize the threat.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Medford said of the inning. “I think it was our determination. All year, we’ve focused on taking a lead and not letting people score immediately. We put that extra run up and they immediately got two on us. You try to limit mistakes and eliminate the big inning, and I think my kids did a good job on that.”
Starkey added an RBI sacrifice fly to left field in the sixth inning to give Guyer some extra breathing room, and Palmer shut down the Lady Bears one-two-three again in the seventh inning with a popup, strikeout and groundout to end the game.
GUYER 5, FORT WORTH BREWER 2
WP — Suzette Palmer. LP — Sarah Miller 2B — B: Carissa Luna. G: Megan Washam.