MANSFIELD — Two games removed from scoring one run during its softball district-opening loss to Mansfield Legacy High School, Midlothian is little less than a rolling offensive juggernaut.
With the help of five RBI from Georgia Capell, the Lady Panthers scored their 34th run in district play and beat Mansfield Lake Ridge High School 14-7 Thursday at Lady Eagle Field.
"Hitting has been key," said Alejandro Lozoya, the head softball coach at Midlothian High School. "Putting up 34 runs in the last three games has helped take pressure off our pitching. Our defense has been stepping up and making clutch plays to get us off the field, too."
The Lady Panthers scored 14 runs despite being held silent in the first and second innings and suffering a three-run deficit. In the top of the fourth and fifth, though, they exploded to take an initial 5-3 lead on singles by Lexi Perez and Emily Singleton and a RBI double by Capell.
Midlothian extended that lead by seven runs after Skylar Cupples drove in Splawn, walks scored Megan Martens, Kaylee Hlavaty and Tatum Sorrels and Sierra Mihailov's sacrifice fly scored Capell.
"This bunch has the right attitude," Lozoya continued. "They give their best effort in practice and games to keep it going. I feel that for us, as long as we have that, we have the ability to go out and compete at a high level."
Capell, who finished 3-for-5 from the plate and scored three runs, also sent a home run sailing over the centerfield softball fence — and tearing the covering off of one during her sixth-inning Sandlot-esqe hit — off an ill-timed fastball from Kaily Gonzales.
The Lady Panthers' hulking power hitter was one of nine players to log at least one hit. Hlavaty (2-for-3), Singleton (2-for-3) and Shelby Noah (2-for-3) each had multiple hits and Cupples, Martens, Sorrels and Annabel Anderson each added an earned base.
By the time the seventh inning came to a close the Lady Eagles' two pitchers — which allowed 14 runs on 14 hits, committed 13 errors and walked four batters with 131 total pitches — were left shellshocked. Mansfield Lake Ridge, which entered the game with hopes of keeping pace with fellow undefeated Mansfield Legacy, found themselves neck-and-neck with a resurgent Lady Panther team.
Morgan Stevenson and Kristalyn Brown, the two Midlothian hurlers, threw 114 in a combined seven innings, striking out one, walking none and allowing 12 hits.
The Lady Panthers, which were scheduled to face Mansfield Summit High School at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Midlothian Sports Complex, were in a position to vie for a first place tie with Mansfield Legacy's Lady Broncos if Mansfield Lake Ridge could rebound and knock off their sister school.
The Lady Panthers destiny, Lozoya said, lies with themselves, less than with how other teams perform as the district streaks towards its midseason.
"We still have three tough games left to finish before the end of the first round of district," he said. "We understand that teams will make adjustments on us for round two. There's .still a lot of softball left to play and all I can ask for is health and enthusiasm so the girls can compete. I don't think our team is content with what they've done so far, so I believe they'll continue to have that hunger to do more. They were very excited after the Lake Ridge game and were ready to get after it again on Friday if need be. Having a little time off should have helped us get a little refreshed."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.