LITTLE AXE — Scheduling confusion that led to a way late start couldn’t dent the state tournament atmosphere at Little Axe.
Of course, Washington and Little Axe, having met in each of the last two Class 3A semifinal rounds at Hall of Fame Stadium, it made perfect sense.
It also made sense, even on the Indians’ fast-pitch diamond, it would be the Class 3A second-ranked Warriors’ turn to turn the tables on their area rivals. Then again, that’s why they play the games.
The winner of three straight state titles, Little Axe has hardly been able to buy a victory this fall. That all changed a little before 10 p.m. Tuesday, when the Indians secured their 4-3 victory over the Warriors.
“It would be a very, very big win at the right time,” said Little Axe athletics director Mike Bread as the game was being played.
So it was.
Cassidy Clark came through in the circle and at the plate, and the rest of her teammates just kept coming through despite falling behind 2-0 before ever coming to the plate, despite being robbed of runners at the corners and one out when a tough call went against them at third base in the fourth inning and despite giving up a 3-2 lead when a sacrifice and two infield hits from the Warriors conspired to knot the game in the fifth.
Clark allowed a first-inning extra base hits to Dagan Lampkin, a triple, and Brooke Rains, a double, and both came around to score. Yet she was strong the rest of the way, striking out two, walking or plunking nobody and allowing only the run in the fifth. Then, at the plate, she led off the bottom of the sixth with a double of her own.
Cheyann Brophy’s single put runners at the corners and Clark would have scored on Alyssa Gregory’s ground out, but she didn’t have to wait, coming home as Gregory backed out of the batter’s box following a wild pitch from Warrior starter Kailee Orr.
In the final frame, Clark endured an error that afforded Washington an additional out, but managed just fine, getting Macey Cargill to pop-out into her glove, between the circle and the plate.
“We needed it bad,” Clark said. “We kept up our energy up the whole game.”
That was no small thing for the Indians, who have lost a bunch of close decisions and are still just 4-8 on the season. The Warriors dropped to 9-5.
“I had to keep my cool,” Clark said. “I couldn’t get overwhelmed.”
That went for her teammates, too.
Aspen Vail made it happen in the third inning.
First she drove in Mychal Barnett to make it 2-2, next she took the extra base when the throw home got away, then she reached third base on Aubry Branch’s groundout before coming home on a wild pitch.
“Tonight is big because it’s proof that we’re still in the running for a state championship,” she said.
Savannah Hall, who knocked in the Indians’ first run in the second inning, offered credit to her brother, Jacob, a baseball player at Rose State, who finished up at Little Axe last year, who, she said, finally made it to one of her games.
“We just really wanted to beat them,’ Hall said.
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