SANGER — Sanger coach Jae McMinn has considered moving freshman McKayla McDaniel up the lineup, but she doesn’t like messing with things when they’re working.
On Friday night, McDaniel showed why she’s hitting seventh in the lineup with two home runs to lead the Lady Indians to a 7-0 victory in the first game of a best-of-three Class 3A regional quarterfinal series against Frisco Lone Star.
Game 1 was scheduled for Thursday night, but rain forced it to Friday night.
“She stepped up big,” McMinn said. “She’s just a freshman, and she hits the ball well. She’s very confident, and she was just seeing a big beach ball today. I don’t want to jinx it, but we’re pretty solid one through nine. I could put her at the top, too, but I’ve got people at the top that are doing the job. This is pretty much the way we’ve batted all season.”
McDaniel’s two-run home run off the top of the left-field fence in the second inning gave the Lady Indians (27-9) a 2-0 lead in the second inning, helping Sanger put the first-inning, bases-loaded jam behind them that pitcher Kelly Mardones escaped with a strikeout — a punctuation she repeated four of the next six innings on the way to allowing just five hits.
“Kelly had a good game,” McMinn said. “She pitched much more efficiently than she had been. I was pleased with her and [catcher Victoria Eakman]. She called some good pitches. They did good.”
Morgan Turkoly, who scored on an error after earning a walk in the third inning, got the Lady Indians’ four-run fifth inning started with her fifth home run of the postseason — a solo home run to right field that gave Sanger a 4-0 lead.
After Jordan Casen reached on a hit-by-pitch and Katlyn Stamper walked, McDaniel delivered her second, two-out home run of the game with a three-run homer to left, this time clearing the fence for the final score.
The Rangers threatened to break the shutout in the sixth inning, but Mardones shut the door again by striking out Claire Miller to end the inning and strand two runners.
Despite the 7-0 lead, McMinn said she didn’t believe they had secured a big enough lead.
“It’s never wrapped up,” McMinn said. “Even with a 7-0 lead, I never feel like it’s wrapped up.”
The Lady Indians will now head to Frisco Lone Star today for Game 2 at 2 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, will follow 30 minutes after the completion of Game 2.
McMinn hopes the team can extend their offensive success into today’s game.
“We’re not digging ourselves out of a hole, so that’s always nice,” McMinn said. “We just need to start where we left off today.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
Sanger 7, Frisco Lone Star 0
Frisco Lone Star
WP — Kelly Mardones. LP — Hanna Eaton. 3B — S: Jaycee Garcia. HR – S: Morgan Turkoly, McKayla McDaniel (2).