SACHSE, Texas -- Sachse softball head coach Casey Nelson wasn’t wary of his District 10-5A fourth-place team facing the District 9-5A champion, Dallas Lake Highlands, in the bi-district round of the 2011 playoffs Saturday.
Nelson said the difficulty of his district combined with the strength of schedule his team endured before district play prepared them for any games they would have to play in May or June. That experience showed Saturday in a five-inning mercy rule 15-2 Mustang win over Lake Highlands.
The Mustang onslaught began on the mound with starting pitcher Kelsey Payne who pitched all five innings, facing only four more than the minimum. Payne struck out nine and allowed three hits with no walks.
Payne said she too believed her time as the everyday starter through District 10-5A play gave her the experience needed to throw a good outing Saturday.
“I think this whole district [season]- since I’m the only pitcher – it’s helped a lot this year. Last year I wasn’t as prepared as I was this year.”
The top of the first was the only half-inning Payne had to play without a lead. Sachse’s offense provided the run support on 16 hits with seven out of the starting nine batters tallying at least one hit. Five of those seven had multi-hit games, led by Rachel Rogers and Lauren Iverson with three.
Iverson also lead Sachse in RBI’s Saturday with four, knocking in at least one on every one of her three singles.
Sachse scored five in the first off four hits and an error, followed by 5 in the second off four hits and two errors.
“We’ve talked about figuratively punching teams in the mouth right of the bat. As soon as you can score some runs to start a game, they’re instantly on their heels and they have to play catch-up.”
Lake Highlands changed its approach at the plate with two outs in the top of the third, electing to play small ball. A bunt single by pitcher Erin Brenan broke up Payne’s perfect game bid and started a two out rally that would score her and following batter Andrea Beard for the Wildcat’s two runs in the game.
Sachse notched a victory in the first playoff game the Mustangs hosted on the campus of Sachse High School. The Mustangs were given an opportunity to host the game in exchange for agreeing to Lake Highlands head coach Kelly Baker’s wish to play a single elimination game, Nelson said.
“That was awesome. It was a dream scenario,” Nelson said about the home playoff game.
Sachse advances to play the winner of Temple and Tyler Lee in the area round next weekend.
Nelson believes the bi-district win puts Sachse in the drivers seat as they advance in the playoff bracket.
“Coming out as the four seed almost helps us because at this point we’ve flipped the script,” Nelson said. “We’ve almost become the one seed now. If we continue to play ball at the level we’ve been playing at…. teams might look past us. They may see the score on the UIL website and go, ‘Oh well they got lucky.’”