FORT WORTH — After jumping out to an early lead and cruising to a Game 1 victory in a best-of-three Class 4A bi-district playoff series against Saginaw on Friday, Guyer looked poised to do the same thing in Game 2 and stroll to a series win.
After loading the bases with no outs in the top of the first, the Lady Wildcats were retired without making Saginaw pay and were deadlocked in a scoreless game for four innings Saturday.
But Saginaw pitcher Mary Kate Lenth could only keep Guyer’s bats quiet for so long, and the Lady Wildcats got out of a jam of their own on their way to a 6-0 victory and a series sweep.
Guyer moves on to face District 7-4A champion Aledo in the area round after winning its first playoff series since 2010, when the Lady Wildcats advanced to the state semifinals before losing to Waco Midway. Guyer and Aledo will play a best-of-three set at a time and place to be determined.
In the past two seasons, Guyer was swept in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs by state powerhouses Hebron and Plano.
“We played well [in 2011 and 2012] but had nothing to show for it,” Guyer coach Keith Medford said. “It’s great to get another milestone with this group of kids. They’ve had a lot this year. I don’t know if you’d say it’s getting over a hump, but it’s something we haven’t done in a couple of years.”
After Guyer (24-5-1) blew its golden scoring opportunity early on, the Rough Riders (22-12) got their own chance in the bottom of the fourth.
After an outfield error and a hit batter by pitcher Suzette Palmer put runners on first and second, Saginaw’s Donna Hanners hit a single to right to load the bases with no outs.
The next batter, Tori Hernandez, hit a soft liner to second base. Guyer second baseman Kylie Miyata ran to her right and backhanded the ball before firing to third baseman Hannah Hodapp to double up Rachel Hills at third. The next batter for the Rough Riders hit a lazy pop-up to Miyata to end the inning and the last serious Saginaw threat.
“That was a huge play,” Medford said. “She’s made plays like that all year. That was a great pitch by Suzie, too, to get a little pop-up. That’s a crucial play in the game. People see the score and think it was a blowout, but it was a pretty close game. That was the play of the game, obviously.”
In the top of the fifth, Guyer finally did some damage on the scoreboard when Kaitlyn Thomas led off with her third infield single of the night. A bunt to third base from senior catcher Megan Washam induced an errant throw that put Thomas on third.
After Washam stole second base, Kennedy Been laced a 1-0 pitch to right-center field for a triple and was able to score on a Saginaw error, giving the Lady Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
“You can’t panic in that situation,” Medford said of his team’s inability to score early in the game. “That’s a typical playoff game. We’ve been in a lot of those this year where you’re hitting the ball and they’re not falling. The worst you can do is panic, and our kids don’t panic.”
After Guyer took the 3-0 lead, Palmer went to work in the circle, needing just seven pitches to retire the side in the bottom of the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, Thomas hit an RBI double followed by an RBI triple from Washam to put the game away.
“I think we took the momentum from that [bottom of the fifth] and went into the next inning with it,” Washam said. “When she [Palmer] goes out there and shuts them down, it gives us a jump-start. We want to go out and support our pitcher.”
Washam, who was a freshman starter on the 2010 state tournament team, was excited to once again advance in the postseason in her final year but said the past two years didn’t feel like downtrodden times for the Lady Wildcats.
“It’s weird, because to me it seems like we’re just getting back in the groove, not like we’ve been in any kind of losing streak,” Washam said after collecting her 101st win as a Guyer varsity player. “It just seems like we got back to what we always do.”
GUYER 6, SAGINAW 0
WP — Suzette Palmer (18-4). LP — Mary Kate Lenth. 2B — G: Kaitlyn Thomas, Kylie Miyata. 3B — Kennedy Been, Megan Washam. Records — Guyer (24-5-1). Saginaw (22-12).