By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Daily Sun –
She had been mobbed and hugged and even lifted off her feet, and now Navarro’s Kristin Lopez was looking for words to describe her biggest hit of the year.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it worked,’’ she said.
It was pretty enough, this soft blooper that found the grass in left field, a ball that wasn’t hit hard enough to hurt anyone’s feelings but just hard enough to lift Navarro to a 5-4 win over Trinity Valley in the bottom of the 10th Saturday afternoon to complete a doubleheader sweep over TVCC.
The Bulldogs won the first game 4-2, and wrestled the second game away from the Cardinals, who led 3-2 and then tied things with a homer 4-4 in the top of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
“I knew were going to come back and win it,’’ said Lopez, who had been 0 for 6 before coming through with an RBI single in the sixth that gave Navarro a 4-3 lead. Then she delivered again. Her bloop single brought home catcher Megan Noel, who had singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Noel flew home from second and slid underneath the tag at the plate. When the dust cleared Navarro had the sweep.
“I knew it. I knew I was going to score,’’ Noel said. “When she hit it all I was thinking was, “I’ve just got to get there. It was a dream play, to be the winning run. When I was coming home I knew it. I could see the catcher. She seemed to be waiting on the ball. When I scored, I just started jumping up and down and screaming.’’
They all did. They came storming onto the field, and mobbed Lopez. Third baseman Kristen Ahearn, who made some highlight tape plays at third and went 3 for 3 with an RBI in the first game, lifted Lopez off her feet in the celebration.
“It was crazy. I’ve never been lifted up before,’’ said Lopez, who said she was tense all day until the 10th inning. “I just tried to relax. I had been tense. I’ve been frustrated with my hitting lately. That was a big hit.’’
Ciara Luna said she jumped up and screamed when the wining run crossed the plate.
“Everybody did. I’m pretty sure we all lost our voices,’’ said Luna, who won both games on the mound. She entered the second game with two outs in the seventh and retired seven in a row and 10 of the 11 batters she faced. She went the distance in the opener, allowing six hits and two runs while striking out six. She made on mistake on a two-run homer that hit the top of the left field wall and skipped over.
“I should have made the catch,’’ said leftfielder Destiny Kennedy, who had an incredible day. Kennedy would have needed a spectacular catch to steal the homer, but she’s just that kind of player. Not only did she score three times and have six hits in the doubleheader, including a two-out, two-run single in the fourth that lifted Navarro to a 4-2 lead in the first game and a leadoff double in the ninth in the second game, but she made a running catch at the wall in the seventh inning of the second game, and made the play of the day in the opening game when she charged a single to left in the sixth and fired a bullet home to nail Melissa Bailey at the plate as Noel made the catch and tag to keep the lead at 4-2.
“This game was big, very big for us,’’ Kennedy said. “This was the most intense game of the year so far. They are the only team to beat us in the region when we split with them at their place, and we were like, ‘They are not going to beat us again.’ It was just a great team effort.’’
The sweep gives Navarro an 11-1 record in Region XIV and leaves the Bulldogs all alone in first place.
“That’s a big win,’’ Navarro Coach Jessica Karenke said. “It’s a big win as tough as our (region) is. They played a real good game. They’ve got power,’’ she said of TVCC, which scored all its runs on homers.
TVCC took a 3-2 lead in the second game on a three-run homer from Mackenzie Robinson in the fifth, but Navarro led 2-0 on a sacrifice fly from Alyssa Dotson in the first and an RBI double from Jade Havard in the third, and scored two in the sixth on RBI singles from Kelsey Villasenor and Lopez to take a 4-3 lead. But Erica Jordan hit a solo shot in the seventh to knot things at 4-4.
“I feel like right now we are in a good place,’’ Karenke said. “A lot of different people stepped up today. They are playing for each other and that’s going to take them a long way.”
REGION XIV EAST SOFTBALL SCORES APRIL 5
Navarro swept Trinity Valley, 4-2, 5-4 (10)
Northeast Texas swept Paris, 3-1, 5-4
Bossier Parish swept Kilgore, 10-6, 10-5