Great pitching – check. Timely hitting – check. Solid defense – check. Effective base running – check. Exceptional coaching – check. Ten-foot home run – check. The Lady Cat’s first round of playoff games on Thursday night against Pflugerville Weiss was a total team win 6-0.
Elgin (20-9) and Weiss faced off in Round Rock, and a ton of Lady Cat’s fans made the trip to cheer them on all night… loudly. The fans filled up the home bleachers and then filled open spaces on both ends of the dugout, spilling into the other seating areas. And they had a lot to cheer for during the contest.
Coach Amanda Wolf-Schramm and her staff have had to juggle their lineup almost weekly. This game saw Emma Neidig on the mound and Morgan Heine behind the plate. Hannah Reiley posted at first base, Kelsea Calhoun at second, Alexis Cathey took over shortstop and Gracie Pena took third. Left field saw Jazmine Alvarado, Kaylee Berdoll at center and Hailey Girod in right. Zaria Bledsoe was the designated hitter.
Great pitching – check. Neidig has stepped up and taken on the starting pitcher leadership role since the loss of Gracy Crafts. Many young ladies would have folded under the pressure, but this feisty sophomore shows no fear. Three up, three down – three opposing batters come up to bat, three batters don’t reach base. Neidig’s first inning against opposing batters was a three up, three down inning. And the second inning too. Ditto for the third inning. Unbelievably, the fourth inning was more of the same. Fifth inning: three up, three down! It was not until the second batter in the sixth inning that a Lady Wolves batter finally reached a base safely on a bunt single. Neidig (9-2) had so dominated the opposing team hitters, she had set down 16 batters in a row and ended the night giving up no runs and only two singles and struck out five. Coach Wolf was pleased with Neidig’s ability to locate her pitches and getting the Weiss batters to ground out or pop out.
Solid defense – check. Backing their pitcher, the Lady Cats defense was outstanding throughout the game. From Cathey catching a bullet line drive, rocketing to her at short from the very first Weiss batter, to centerfielder Berdoll chasing a long drive to center and catching it at the last second, both the infield and outfield played at peak performance the entire game.
Timely hitting – check. Bri Gonzalez, the Weiss pitcher, also showed she could really throw some heat, and the Lady Wildcat hitters initially struggled to get solid hits. Senior Alexis Cathey rose to the occasion, driving in three runs with a double in the fourth inning and a single in the sixth. She also had a walk and scored twice. Heine, Pena and Neidig also had a hit for the Wildcats.
Effective base-running – check. The Lady Cats had six stolen bases and kept the Weiss infield jittery, constantly checking to look back at the Elgin runners, instead of concentrating on the batter.
Exceptional coaching – check. Through scouting and because the Weiss pitcher was so effective, Coach Wolf and her assistant coaches had to preach small ball to their hitters. Bunt. Bunt. And then bunt more. The staff saw a weakness in the Lady Wolves infield’s ability to handle bunts correctly, and they took advantage of that weakness again and again. The Weiss third baseman mishandled bunts all night. The Lady Wolves second baseman took bad angles to cover the throws to first all night. The Weiss pitcher and catcher were no help in coverage. As in all sports, once the coaches identify a weakness, they will take advantage of it until the other team stops that
Photos by Ron Ramirez weakness. Weiss never did, and a number of throwing errors off of bunts resulted in Wildcat scores throughout the game.
Ten-foot home run – check. Okay, okay, so it won’t be scored as a home run, but it sure was fun to watch! Neidig came to bat in the sixth inning and laid down a ten-foot bunt down the third base line. The Lady Wolves third baseman rushed in to pick it up and throw it to first base. As par for the course, the throw was a bad one, high and too hard, and the ball ended up past the base and rolling all the way to the right field fence. Neidig put on her afterburners and did not waste the opportunity, streaking past first base to second. As she made the turn at second, she looked up and saw Coach Wolf frantically waving her on to third and then all the way home. She scored easily. I don’t know about Neidig, but I would be bragging the rest of the season that I had hit a ten-foot home run!
Other District 18-5A results saw Georgetown advance with a win over Pflugerville, East View lose a series to Huntsville and Bastrop lose to Glenn. Georgetown will face Kingwood Park in the next round.
The Lady Cats will face College Station in a best two-of-three series at the Brenham High School softball field. The first game will be Wednesday, May 1st at 7 p.m. Game two will be on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Game three, if needed, will be Friday at 7 p.m. Come show your colors and root on the Lady Cats to victory!