ROSENBERG – All Santa Fe first baseman Alicia Owens wanted was to do something to help her team.
Owens did that and then some, blasting a seventh-inning grand slam over the right field fence that lifted the Lady Indians to an 8-3 win against the Tomball Memorial Lady Wildcats in Game 1 of their best-of-three second-round series Thursday at Lamar Consolidated.
“I was thinking, ‘please God, let me get a hit so I can help my team,’” Owens said of her second home run of the season.
After Santa Fe meticulously built a 4-0 lead, Memorial tightened the contest with a three-run bottom of the fifth inning to make a game of it with the favored Lady Indians.
Still clinging to the 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh, Santa Fe put together a two-out rally with back-to-back shortstop errors and a walk loading the bases. That’s when Owens, a senior, who had three groundouts to that point, crushed her four-run round-tripper to put the game out of reach.
Santa Fe starting pitcher Shelbi Sunseri forced a grounder to second, gave up a walk, got another ground ball out and struck out her 12th batter of the game to wrap up the win.
In the early going of Thursday’s game, the Lady Indians kept busy on the base paths in a variety of ways, and it paid dividends in the form of building a solid lead.
“Every inning we’re always doing something,” Santa Fe head coach Trish Leidy said. “We always find a way to get somebody on and keep the pressure on.”
Santa Fe third baseman Mycahla Howard reached base after striking out but seeing the ball scoot by Memorial catcher Kaycie Moore. Sunseri then knocked in the Lady Indians’ first run of the game with a double over the head of center fielder Selena Valdez.
Santa Fe boosted its lead to 3-0 in the top of the third. Designated player Kayla Tisdale opened the inning with a walk but was replaced on the base paths after center fielder Shelby Doherty hit into a fielder’s choice.
Right fielder Erin Palmer legged out an infield single, which was followed by a double to deep right-center field by second baseman Courtney Clark that gave Santa Fe a 2-0 lead. Palmer was thrown out at home trying to make it a three-run lead. Howard ensured there would be no play at the plate with an RBI triple hit down the right field line.
In the top of the fifth, another lead-off walk by Tisdale, a bloop single to shallow right field by Doherty and an RBI fielder’s choice from Palmer made the lead 4-0.
Fifth to forget
Sante Fe’s freshman hurler Sunseri was as dominant as it gets for the first four innings and the last two. In the fifth inning, though, she looked like a mere mortal.
The bottom of the fifth began in fluky fashion with Memorial left fielder Kaytlin Moore reaching base on a swinging third strike that got by catcher Haley Chavez.
After an infield single by pitcher Trystan Melancon and a fielder’s choice to put out the lead runner Moore, the shortstop smashed a double to deep left field to cut Santa Fe’s lead in half. Catcher Kaycie Moore smacked a single up the middle to whittle the lead down to 4-3 but was thrown out trying to leg out an extra base.
Sunseri sat down third baseman Sarah Bowden on a swinging strikeout to end Memorial’s rally.
Sunseri pitched all seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits and had 12 strikeouts and five walks. All three runs and three of the hits came in the fifth.
Santa Fe and Memorial play Game 2 of their second-round series 5:30 p.m. today again at Lamar Consolidated. If necessary, Game 3 will follow 30 minutes after the end of Game 2.
Softball playoffs – Class 4A second round
Santa Fe vs. Tomball Memorial
All games at Lamar Consolidated
Game 1: Santa Fe 8, Tomball 3
Game 2: Today, 5:30 p.m.
*Game 3: Today, following Game 2
* if necessary
Contact Sports Editor James LaCombe at email@example.com or 409-683-5242.