Lady Elks collect sweep, face rival in next round
Just as they did last season, Burleson’s softball team made quick work of an area-round foe sweeping Saginaw Boswell in a pair of game last Friday to reach the regional quarterfinals.
The Lady Elks scored four first-inning runs to win the opener 5-1 and then belted the Lady Pioneers, 9-2, in game two to take the Class 5A Region I area-round series.
Burleson (16-12) will take on arch-rival Centennial (27-3) in a best-of-three regional quarterfinal series at Arlington’s Workman Softball Complex. Game 1 of the series was delayed by weather Tuesday night and rescheduled for Wednesday.
Game 2 is slated for 4:30 p.m. Friday with a third and deciding game, if needed, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The winner of the series will take on the winner of the game between No. 5 Canyon and Canutillo in the regional semifinals.
In the opener, Lauren Isbell and Sarah Alexander each drive in a pair of runs in the first inning. Alexander’s double put the Lady Elks up 4-0. Alexander celebrated her double with a little dance at second base.
“I was really exciting because I haven’t been hitting the couple of games,” Alexander said. “It felt pretty good to know I was backing up my teammates.”
Junior third baseman Zoe Miranda was also thrilled because the bottom of the order kept the rally going.
“It’s real big, when they hit we score,” Miranda said of the bottom of the lineup. “They are my babies. I’m very proud of them. They have come a long way since the start of the season. Know they are getting hits and they are a lot more confident at the plate.”
Staked to a 4-0 lead early, senior pitcher Hannah Loudermilk, who been battling a should injury, kept the Lady Pioneers in check allowing one unearned run on three hits while striking out five.
“I was using my curve ball and keeping it up and they were chasing the ball,” Loudermilk said. “I had some shoulder problems during the summer and it hasn’t completely gone away. It is starting to kick back up. My defense played great and the offense took a weight off my shoulders by scoring four runs in the first.”
In Game 2, Miranda’s bat let the way to the sweep. The junior drove in five runs and scored twice while going 3-for-4 at the plate with three doubles.
Burleson collected 13 hits including seven doubles. To go along with Miranda’s three doubles, Saeya Esparza, Natali Wheeler, Maddie McGovern and Emily Wilson each added a double.
Wilson, Wheeler and Rich each drove in runs in the win.
In the circle, Rich worked six innings for the win. The freshman allowed two runs (one unearned) on four hits. She struck out five and walked two. Loudermilk tosses a perfect seventh to end the game.