FRISCO — Saturday’s Class 3A regional quarterfinal between Sanger and Frisco Lone Star had it all: bases-loaded situations, plays at the plate, disputed ball-strike calls and game-saving catches.
At the end of a four-hour battle that saw each team collect 13 hits, Sanger persevered and scored the go-ahead run before holding Lone Star in check in the bottom of the 12th inning for a 3-2 victory to sweep the series in two games.
Despite the lengthy contest, Sanger coach Jae McMinn said her team’s ready for the regional semifinals.
“They’re ready to play another game tomorrow,” McMinn said. “We always get stuck in the next round. That’s where we lost last year. The leadership wants this done, and the freshmen are getting on board.”
Pitcher Kelly Mardones withstood the fatigue and navigated the Lady Indians out of several jams.
“I kept telling myself that this is everything that I’ve wanted,” Mardones said. “I want to advance and play the next game. I knew my team would have my back on defense, so I trusted them.
“It was crazy. I kind of wanted to cry sometimes. It was awesome to get that run, and I knew we could get the win.”
With the game tied at 2, Sanger’s Katelynn Stamper reached on an error to set the stage for Jaycee Garza’s double to left-center that gave Stamper enough time to slide safely into home for the 3-2 edge.
Holding a one-run lead, Mardones knew what she had to do.
“She walked out of the dugout saying, ‘I’ve got this. I’m good,’” McMinn said. “I wasn’t sure if she was going to have any gas for the next game, but their pitcher had to do the same thing too. She took care of business out there. She kept us in the game. Our bats were not clicking.”
Focusing on jamming each batter inside and knowing that she would have to pitch in Game 3 if Sanger didn’t win, Mardones buckled down and struck out the first two batters in the 12th before coercing No. 9 hitter Claire Miller into a game-ending groundout to shortstop Morgan Turkoly.
“I was confident because I knew that we were facing the bottom of their lineup,” Mardones said. “I’d gotten them out almost every time these past two games, so I knew I could get them. I just had to show up and finish with my best pitches.”
The Lady Indians (28-9) took a 1-0 lead in the third after Stamper walked and Garza reached on an infield hit to set up Turkoly for an RBI double.
The Rangers answered with an RBI hit by Ashley Cantu in the bottom of the third. Lone Star claimed a 2-1 lead after Cantu led off the fifth with a triple and Miranda Garza hit an RBI infield single.
The Lady Indians tied it at 2 in the sixth with consecutive hits from Victoria Eakman and Jordan Cason and an RBI single by Stamper.
Sanger loaded the bases in the ninth and 11th but didn’t score.
The Lady Indians will face Atlanta or Texarkana Liberty-Eylau next weekend.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873.
Sanger 3, Frisco Lone Star 2 (12 innings)
Frisco Lone Star
WP — Kelly Mardones. LP — Hanna Eaton. 2B — F: Madi Meyers. S: Morgan Turkoly, Jaycee Garza. 3B — F: Ashley Cantu.