JUSTIN — In the bottom of the third inning of Thursday night’s postseason opener, Guyer junior pitcher Shayne Starkey was in trouble.
An error, a walk and two doubles to start the inning allowed Saginaw to score one run and load the bases with no outs and Guyer nursing a three-run lead. Guyer coach Keith Medford even took right fielder Lauren Lindgren out of the game to warm her up to possibly replace Starkey in the circle.
Three outs later, the Lady Wildcats had escaped with minimal damage and Starkey never left the game as Guyer rolled to a six-inning 15-4 win over Saginaw in a one-game bi-district playoff at Texan Diamond, where Starkey began her high school career at Justin Northwest as a freshman on varsity before moving to Guyer as a sophomore.
“I think a little bit, it did,” Starkey said about a possible mental hiccup from playing at her former home park for the first time since 2012. “Just like when I played them [Northwest] this year. I think after the first inning, I settled in and felt a lot more confident.
“I think I was trying to overpitch at first. It was getting in my head. Once I settled down and realized my team has my back — sometimes I forget that — I was good.”
Guyer (25-4) will move on to face the winner of a best-of-three series between Burleson Centennial and Fort Worth South Hills in the area round next week.
Saginaw (15-12) led 3-2 after the first, as Starkey allowed four hits and walked three in the first three innings, while Guyer committed three errors in that same span. But after that stretch, the Lady Wildcats (25-4) outscored Saginaw 8-0 as Starkey gave up just two hits the rest of the way.
“She struggled a bit in the circle, but she’s tough as nails,” Medford said. “She came back, got herself together and got her team together. Physically she’s great, but mentally and leadership-wise, she’s huge. Not just her, but also our seniors and [junior] Hannah [Hodapp].”
The Lady Wildcats erased any doubt in the sixth when they batted around and put seven runs on the board as the lineup got into a groove led by No. 9 hitter Lauren Lindgren, who hit third in the order for much of the season, and the Nos. 1-3 spots. Those four spots combined to go 13-for-15 and drove in nine runs, while scoring 11 times.
Starkey, hitting third, went 4-for-4 with four RBIs, and Hodapp was 4-for-5 with two RBIs in the second spot.
Medford said Lindgren’s recent move to the ninth spot has given the lineup a huge lift and finally found the right combination to produce.
“Sometimes kids can take that wrong way [moving down in the order], but Lauren is such a team player,” Medford said. “She’s bought into it. That is by design. I’d put her against any 9-hole in this area. She has power, speed and a lot of tools.
“It took us a long time to figure out the flow of our lineup. I really like the way it’s flowed. People are coming up in positions where they do things well.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
Guyer 15, Saginaw 4 (6)
WP — Shayne Starkey. LP — Mary Kate Lenth. 2B — G: Tara Solomon, Hannah Hodapp. S: Rachel Hills, Mary Kate Lenth, Cassidy Cutler, Marissa Davila. 3B — G: Shayne Starkey 2. Records — Guyer (25-4) Saginaw (15-12).