VENUS, Texas — After seeing just a few of Midlothian Heritage High School District softball games, fans Macy this year's varsity team as a lightning-quick heart attack in a bottle.
It also might be because the Jaguars may be one of the most clutch performing teams in the state.
Midlothian Heritage's 20-7 victory against Venus High School on Monday at Lady Bulldog Field could be evidence of that — especially after scoring double-digit runs in the fourth inning.
"Venus always battles us like that, regardless of the sport," MHHS Head Coach Waylon Whitney said, allowing a chuckle of relief to flutter into the blue Texas sky above. "Given how they fought back and got the win today, it's a good positive. You judge a team by why they do when the chips are down and bad things happen. Venus fought back and tied the game and the next inning we put up 11 runs."
Since falling to Stephenville High School on March 15, the (8-10, 3-3) Jaguars have claimed consecutive victories and a two-game win streak.
Though Midlothian Heritage took an early lead courtesy of back-to-back singles by Makenna Anderson and Gracie Larkin as well as RBI-scoring singles from Danielle Seimears and Jordan Freas, Venus' lineup chipped away at the Jaguar lead. The Lady Bulldogs scored a run in each of the first two innings and five in the third.
Five of Venus' six hits came during the four-inning comeback. One, a fourth-inning triple by Kaleigh Monk and a follow-up single by Mikennya Echols, scored three runs and deadlocked the score at seven.
"We know how tough a fight it's going to be to get a playoff spot and hold on to it," Whitney said. "They're going to fight because they're trying to get into the playoffs like every other team in the district. There was never a sense of 'oh, no' in the dugout. Instead, they went in, had good approaches at the plate and we got 11. That's an answer we like and the response we want out of the girls."
Hailey Hess' triple extended the Jaguars' lead to four runs. The other nine runs came after Midlothian Heritage batted around the lineup once and scored runs on seven singles by Freas, Larkin, Seimears, Rachael Gray and Gracie Lenzer.
The surge also helped Lenzer on the mound, who went five innings and struck out and walked three batters each and allowed six hits and seven runs with 81 pitches. The Lady Bulldogs, with the help of leading batters Monk (1-for-3, 2 RBI) and MaKayla Buck (2-for-3), went a combined 6-for-24 at the plate.
Fourteen of those at-bats (58 percent) came in quality situations Venus either forced Lenzer to throw three or more pitches after a two-strike situation, forced six or more pitch at-bats, earned an extra-base hit or scored on a sacrifice bunt or fly.
Though she started slowly in the earlier innings, the team's catcher said the way Lenzer ended the game and how she's grown since the beginning of the season is what matters most.
"She's developed more pitches since we went through the first round of district and she's perfected the ones she already had," Gray said. "Every game she gets a little better at hitting her spots. There's a huge difference, too, in the way we play as a team compared to when the season started. We communicate as a team and have really meshed on and off the field. I think it shows in how we've played recently."
Lenzer rebounded and retired three straight batters in the bottom of the fourth inning and three of the six batters she faced in the fifth and final inning. With Gray's pitch framing and Lenzer's right arm, Midlothian Heritage outdueled Venus.
Buck, who picked up the loss after giving up 13 runs on 10 hits and allowing 11 of the 17 errors and walking four batters. She also struck out eight batters.
Freas and Gray led Midlothian Heritage with 4-for-5 and 3-for-4 performances at the plate and drove in seven of the Jaguars' 16 RBIs. Hess, Larkin and Seimears all had two or more hits and Anderson, Lenzer, Jessica Hershey and Alexa Perez added one each.
The Jaguars were scheduled to play a non-district game against District 3-6A No. 1 Fort Worth Timbercreek High School on Tuesday after press time. They will return to district play against Alvarado High School at 7 p.m. Friday at Jaguar Softball Field.
The (8-8, 5-1) Lady Indians, which are the No. 2 team in the district behind undefeated Stephenville High School, beat Glen Rose High School 13-0 Friday.
"We talked about that four-way race between us, Glen Rose, Waxahachie Life and Venus," Whitney said. "We came into the season knowing it was going to be tough against Godley and Alvarado, but we were looking to make the playoffs. They're after us and that fourth place spot. That's a good test to see how the team responds to that in the second round of district."