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Big fifth inning lifts Abilene High to 7-0 win over Wylie in series opener – Big Country Preps

The series opener between Abilene High and Wylie was the pitchers’ duel many expected over 4½ innings on Friday at Abilene Christian University’s Poly Wells Field.

But when the Lady Eagles finally broke through against Lady Bulldogs starter Halli Russell in the bottom of the fifth, they did it big, scoring seven runs to turn a scoreless thriller into a comfortable 7-0 victory and a 1-0 lead in to take the series. in the best-of-three Region I-5A quarterfinals.

The win, which improved Abilene High to 24-13-1 on the year, moved the Lady Eagles within one win of their first trip to the fourth round of the playoffs since 2003 – something they will look to secure when the series resumes Saturday at 9 a.m. back on ACU.

“They were ready to play all week,” Abilene High coach Jenna Aguirre said of her team. “I know we didn’t score in the first four innings, but we put the ball in play and had good at bats. So we just kept telling them to be patient and keep getting those at-bats, and eventually they were going to fall.”

For more than four innings, Game 1 played out much the same way Friday as the two regular-season games between the Lady Eagles and Lady Bulldogs, with Russell and Abilene High ace Diana Silva going back and forth in an attempt to edge each other out. to give.

Heading into the fifth inning, the teams had combined for just three hits, and the only serious scoring opportunity for either team was stifled when Andria Starks was thrown out at home to end the bottom of the second inning.

But the game turned on a dime in the fifth, when Silva tossed around a leadoff double to record a fifth straight out in the top half of the inning and her lineup exploded for the game-deciding rally in the bottom half.

The Lady Eagles sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning, tallying six hits and three walks, while taking advantage of a Wylie error to tag Russell with seven runs – all but three earned.

“You don’t want to be on the sidelines where things start to snowball, and it didn’t seem like everything we were doing was going our way,” Wylie coach Heather Collier said. “They took advantage of it, and that’s what you do. I hope we bounce back.

“Being in a stressful situation in the city, it asks a lot of this young team, but I just reminded them that we did something right to get here, and that our five returners did an excellent job by leading this group to where we are today. . We just have to settle down, let go of mistakes and move on to the next pitch.”

Kinzley Cantu got the big blow for AHS, hitting a one-out, bases-loaded double just out of the reach of Wylie, left fielder Londyn Franklin to score the first two runs of the game, opening floodgates that wouldn’t close until the Lady Bulldogs reliever Avie Faries came in for Russell and got a bases-loaded grounder from Brie Reed to stop the bleeding.

After Mariah Estrada made it 3-0 with an RBI sac-bunt, Aubriana Camacho, Starks and Marissa Cardenas all added run-scoring hits to provide extra assurance for Silva, who pitched six scoreless innings before giving way to sophomore Avah Reyes in the seventh.

“She’s done a great job all season,” Aguirre said of Silva, who allowed two hits and a walk while striking out just one. “Honestly, she’s done so well that sometimes we have to tell her that it’s OK if she doesn’t take out the entire lineup and that we have a great defense behind her and it’s going to be a team effort from this round on.”

Abilene High, playing flawless softball, finished with eight hits and got a team-leading two hits and two RBIs from Cardenas. Cantu also added two points, while seven different players scored one point.

Wylie, which allowed only five batters to reach base in the loss, got its only two hits from third baseman Wynslow Miller, who had a leadoff single in the second and a leadoff double in the fifth.

Now one game to zero in the series, the Lady Eagles will look to shut down their crosstown rivals on Saturday.

But Aguirre knows there is still a lot of softball to be played.

“(This has been a) great start and we are super proud, but nothing is certain,” she said. “We trailed Game 1 in the first round and came back and won both, and we can easily be on the other side of that. So I just told them we have to come back and play our game again (Saturday).

Collier’s side, meanwhile, will look to pick up a few wins and extend the season for another week.

“You just have to (regroup),” the longtime Wylie coach said. “They’ve been playing softball long enough and I’ve been telling them all season that it’s a roller coaster ride. We’ve been on a high for a while now, but when you get to this point in the playoffs, it’s a battle.

“It was toe-to-toe until that (fifth) inning. We just have to know that we can do it and we just can’t give up on each other. We just have to find a way to compete and do those little things solidly.

REGION I-5A QUARTERFINALS

GAME 1

ABILENE HIGH 7, WYLIE 0

123 456 7 R H E
Wylie 000 000 0 0 2 2
Abilene High 000 070 X 7 8 0

Halli Russell, Avie Faries (5) and Cameron Gregory. Diana Silva, Avah Reyes (7) and Makayla Gutierrez. W— Silva. L— Russel. 2B — Wylie: Wynslow Miller; Abilene High: Kinzley Cantu.

Facts – Wylie 28-9; Abilene High 24-13-1.