FORT WORTH — Ponder’s high-powered offense was held in check for the first 13 innings of its Class 2A Region II bi-district playoff series with Grandview, and with one inning left in Friday’s Game 2, the Lady Lions looked well on their way to a disappointing first-round sweep.
Grandview likely felt that way too, but Ponder erupted for 10 runs on eight hits in the top of the seventh to rally for an 11-3 win and force today’s decisive Game 3, slated for 11 a.m. at Saginaw Chisholm Trail.
“To be completely honest, I was doubting it [the seventh-inning rally],” Ponder senior pitcher Jessica Orozco said. “Once a few girls started getting on base, though, there was a little fire of hope there. We were so desperate to get the hits we needed, and it finally clicked.”
The Lady Lions (17-11) entered the seventh inning having combined to score just three runs off Grandview pitcher Lexi Meadows. Meadows allowed four hits in Thursday’s 6-2 win and had the Lady Zebras (15-9-2) leading 3-1 through six on Friday.
Just like Thursday’s game, Ponder jumped out to a lead in the first inning only to see the Lady Zebras rally. Trailing 1-0, Grandview scored two runs in the third and added another in the bottom of the sixth.
It wasn’t enough this time.
By the time Meadows got Andie Beer to ground out to end the seventh, she had faced 14 batters and her defense had committed three errors. Ponder scored six runs with no outs, and three of its eight hits went for extra bases, including a double, triple and two RBIs from Orozco.
Orozco finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs. She also struck out nine while allowing five hits from the circle.
“We finally figured her [Meadows] out,” Ponder coach Paige Wells said. “I felt like we were putting the ball in play much better than we had on Thursday; we just couldn’t string enough together in the earlier innings. We finally got a few in the hole, and it started from there.”
With two runners on in the seventh, Ponder’s Sage Stover ripped a two-run single to tie the game at 3. Orozco promptly doubled to put runners on second and third, and after a walk to Beer that loaded the bases, Hannah Prather doubled to give the Lady Lions a 5-3 lead.
Two of Ponder’s next four runs came with the help of Grandview errors. Orozco then plated two runs with her two-out triple to increase the lead to 11-3.
Orozco struck out two of the three batters she faced in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.
“I think we have a lot more confidence now [going into Game 3],” Orozco said. “You can tell that both teams are tired, but at the same time, both teams want this next win. It’s going to be a tough one.”
Ponder 11, Grandview 3
WP — Jessica Orozco. LP — Lexi Meadows. 3B — P: Jessica Orozco. G: Shelby Estep. 2B — P: Karah Ortiz, Jessica Orozco, Hannah Prather. G: Lauren Starr. Records —Ponder 17-11; Grandview 15-9-2.