RED OAK — With a day extra of rest after Friday's downpour, Red Oak High School looked to earn back-to-back district victories and catapult themselves back into the postseason picture.
Unfortunately, the Lady Hawks ran into the softball offensive buzzsaw that is Midlothian High School and fell 27-5 Saturday at Lady Hawk Field.
The (13-6, 5-1) Lady Panthers entered the game with a five-game win streak under their collective belts and had outscored their Mansfield Lake Ridge, Summit and Timberview and Waxahachie High Schools 47-22.
"We're in a different district and every game matters," said Alejandro Lozoya, the MHS head softball coach, after the seven-run win against Mansfield Summit High School. "We need to a better job of starting off, but the kids do a great job of adjusting mid-game without going through the lineup. Once they get going, the next thing you know its a hit here and ground ball there and we get a rally going. It's the work they do in practice that's showing up on the field."
Lozoya made those comments after his team thumped the Lady Jaguars 13-6 and posted 12 hits — the fifth consecutive game Midlothian earned 10 or more.
Twenty-seven runs in three innings by way of 14 RBI — 10 via home run hitters Annabel Anderson and Shelby Noah — helped down Red Oak and made their streak short-lived. Anderson, who drove in six runs, finished 3-for-3 plate and Noah, who drove in four, finished 2-for-2.
They each scored three runs.
The (5-12-1, 1-5) Lady Hawks had won their first district games only four days before. They throttled Lancaster High School 15-0 via a Raegan Ferguson no-hitter and RBI from Ferguson, Cayli Carpenter and Kaylee McCutcheon.
Though Red Oak sprinted to an early 5-4 lead after Lacy Weaver's first-inning single sparked back-to-back RBI groundouts by Taniece Tyson and Carpenter and a two-RBI double by Rhian Carson, Noah and Emari Hudson put out six of the next nine batters.
"I always look forward to playing someone who pushes us back," Lozoya said. "There's always lessons in adversity. The more they learn to be uncomfortable now, the more they'll be comfortable when the games matter most. Once they start feeling that way there will be no situation — bases loaded or two outs and we're trying to get off the field — we can't work our way out of."
Hudson, the game's winning pitcher, struck out three batters and allowed three hits with 42 pitches in 2.1 innings. Noah, who pitched less than an inning, allowed five runs, three walks and a hit in 38 pitches.
Red Oak's trio of pitchers — Ferguson, Tyson and Maegan Fullerton — combined for 150 pitches thrown, 10 walks, 14 hits, 22 errors and 27 runs allowed. Two runs came via Noah's first-inning homer that scored Anderson and Sierra Mihailov and three more came after Anderson's grand slam shot in the second off Fullerton.
Anderson's long ball helped cap a 15-run second inning.
The Lady Panthers added 12 more hits and 20 more RBI with help from the red-hot bats of Kaylee Hlavaty (2-for-3, 2 RBI), Emily Singleton (2-for-3, 2 RBI), Georgia Capell (1-for-3, 2 RBI) and Tatum Sorrels (1-for-3, 2 RBI). Mihailov, Megan Martens and Lexi Perez each had a hit.
While Red Oak fell to the bottom of the District 10-5A standings behind No. 6 Waxahachie and ahead of winless No. 8 Lancaster High Schools, Midlothian remained in a three-way tie for first place with Mansfield Lake Ridge and Legacy High Schools.
"They really bought into the philosophy. It's not the same none of 10 kids we keep in the lineup, either," Lozoya said. "It's girls coming off the bench and getting it done. I've got to give credit to our upperclassmen and seniors for that. They welcomed all the underclassmen with open arms and bonded with them. It's not a group of authoritative seniors and everyone else. It's 24 girls playing for each other and wanting to succeed to for the girl to her left or right."
The Lady Hawks will attempt to make a push toward the UIL postseason when they face Mansfield Legacy at 7 p.m. Friday at Lady Hawk Field. The Lady Panthers will play Lancaster at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lady Tiger Field.
Though teetering toward the bottom of the district, claiming must-win games against Mansfield Legacy, Timberview and Waxahachie could help shake up the district and help Red Oak take a step toward the playoffs.
It would also help Midlothian separate itself from the three-team logjam at the top.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI