SPRINGTOWN — The tension was high in a Class 2A bi-district playoff matchup Saturday as the Ponder Lady Lions’ offense showed just enough consistency while fending off a furious charge by Godley to claim a 8-7 victory to move on to the area round.
Ponder held a 7-0 lead after 4 1/2 innings before the Lady Cats’ bats finally woke up. Godley scored two runs in the sixth with no outs to claw back to within 7-6, but Ponder starter Jessica Orozco struck out two of the next three batters to get out of the inning with the lead.
“They are a great offensive team and they started seeing the ball better the third time through the lineup,” Ponder coach Paige Wells said of Godley. “[Orozco] did her job and I’m just glad we got out of here with a win.”
The Lady Lions added a pivotal insurance run in the top of the seventh as they capitalized on two errors by Godley, including a dropped fly ball in right field that allowed Taylor Tipton to score after she reached on a hard-hit ball that Godley couldn’t corral.
“It was a huge hit by our freshman [Tipton] to get on, and she scored for us,” Wells said. “That was big for us to get the extra lead run, or else it would be tied and we’d still be playing ball. She was intense, got into it and got on base for us. It was big.”
In the Lady Cats’ final inning, Linsey Tomlinson hit a clutch inside-the-park home run to the center-field fence to get Godley back within a run. However, Orozco was able to settle down and get the final three outs.
“I think we knew we had to fight,” Wells said. “That’s all there is to it. You have to be willing to keep fighting. I had to go out and say something to Jessica there to keep the ball low, keep her chin down and keep working. We are going to get the outs, and we did.”
Orozco led off the first with a walk and was driven home by Andie Beer’s single to give Ponder a 1-0 lead, and Orozco delivered an RBI double in the second to make it 2-0.
Beer continued her hot start with a double to lead off the third and scored on Hannah Prather’s single to put the Lady Lions ahead 3-0. Mackenzi Chapman added a sacrifice to make it 4-0.
After a quiet fourth inning, the fifth inning had fans from both schools cheering loudly. The Lady Lions added three runs as Prather singled and was able to score on a wild pitch by starter Cheyenne Barber. Karah Ortiz cranked a triple down the right-field line to extend the Lady Lions’ lead to 7-0.
Godley finally ended its drought at the plate in the bottom of the fifth. Kasey Richardson launched a solo home run over the center-field fence to get the Lady Cats on the board.
Sasha Rodriguez’s RBI triple brought the Lady Cats to within 7-2, and a Ponder error allowed their third run to cross the plate. Cheyenne Barber’s RBI single made it 7-4.
The Lady Cats started the sixth off with a triple by Jaci Smith over right fielder Emily Nichelson, and Richardson delivered an RBI double to center field to score Smith and make the score to 7-5.
Jordyn Logan’s RBI single to right brought Godley to within a run at 7-6, but Orozco struck out the next two batters and caught a comebacker to end the inning.
“They had 10 hits in three innings, and they weren’t just light, little dinks either,” Wells said. “That’s what’s going to happen in the playoffs, and they have to learn to keep fighting.”
Ponder (19-8) will face top-seeded Pilot Point in the area round.
“We’re going to have to come out and be willing to fight with them,” Wells said. “They have a great pitcher, and we are going to have to put the ball in play and not strike out.”
PONDER 8, GODLEY 7
WP — Jessica Orozco. LP — Cheyenne Barber. 2B — P: Orozco, Andie Beer, Hannah Prather. G: Kasey Richardson. 3B — P: Karah Ortiz. G: Sasha Rodriguez, Jaci Smith. HR — G: Kasey Richardson, Linsey Tomlinson.