79° F Thursday, June 22, 2017

By Kyle Gregory

Contributing Writer

Lake Travis softball took care of business Tuesday night by beating Del Valle 8-2 and setting the stage for a District 15-5A showdown Friday night.

Friday, the Lady Cavaliers (16-7, 4-1) will face their first true Class 5A test when they travel to Westlake to face the No. 4 Lady Chaparrals, who are unbeaten in district and 21-3 overall.

“Westlake is our rival, so I think it’s extra pressure no matter what,” senior Riley Cunningham said, “but also, we want to be district champs. I think that everyone kind of thinks that Westlake is going to be district champs. We want to prove everyone wrong and beat Westlake and win district.”

The rivalry game comes at an opportune time for Lake Travis, as the Lady Cavs have rolled over their past three district opponents.

“We keep winning against the teams that we should be winning against,” Cunningham said. “We’re doing really well — run ruling teams. We’re going to take how well we’re doing and take it to the Westlake game and have good confidence.”

Despite a bit of a slow start, the Lady Cavaliers turned in a complete performance against Del Valle, knocking in eight runs on eight hits and committing only two errors on defense.

“Our bats were a little stalled to start,” Lake Travis coach Christie Knox said. “We were a little disappointed in how we hit early on. But obviously you’re always glad to see them make the adjustment at some point in the game, and they did.”

Neither team produced much offensively in the first two innings, but Lake Travis found a rhythm in the third. Baylee Kuss and Cunningham each knocked one-out singles and reached scoring position courtesy of a sacrifice bunt from Sarah Pannkuk. Both baserunners scored when the Del Valle shortstop mishandled a ground ball from Allison Brascom.

“I like our hitting; our hitting was nice,” pitcher Zoe Bacon said. “We could have jumped on them earlier, but as soon as we get that rally going, it just doesn’t stop for us.”

The Lake Travis rally, if not stopped, was temporarily stymied in the fourth inning. Then the Lady Cavs added another run in the fifth, again courtesy of an error by the Del Valle shortstop.

The Lady Cardinals put up a run of their own in the top of the sixth. A misplay of a fly ball on the right field foul line and a subsequent errant throw allowed a runner to score from first base.

The bottom of the sixth is when earned runs came into play. Makaela Williamson led off with a single and was moved over on a sacrifice bunt from Alyssa Dickens. Jordan Goulart walked and the two runners pulled off a double-steal on a ball in the dirt. Cunningham drove both of them home and, in an ambitious bit of baserunning, stretched what appeared to be a sure single into a double.

“I really didn’t know I was going to go,” Cunningham said. “I saw her drop the ball and kind of fumble it and I knew her back was to me so she couldn’t tell if I was coming or not. So I was like, ‘I’m going to go for it.’ I just ran as fast as I could and I slid hard.”

A Pannkuk walk put two runners on for Brascom, who blasted a ball to right field for a two-run triple. The next batter, Hanna Contreras, hit another long ball to right field, scoring Brascom. The inning ended as Contreras tried to stretch her double into a triple and was thrown out at third.

“We talk about being aggressive on the base paths,” Knox said. “There’s a lot of good things that have to happen to get a relay in from the outfield, so you’re going to push the other team until they show that they can get you out.”

Del Valle added one more run in the top of the seventh — again with a runner scoring from first on a ball to the right side. This time, a line drive landed just on the foul line and, in the confusion as to its fairness, the Del Valle baserunner made it home before the Lady Cavs could react.

Bacon pitched a complete game for the Lady Cavaliers, giving up one earned run on four hits, with eight strikeouts and two walks.

“I felt pretty good today,” Bacon said. “I was really focused on hitting my spots and moving the ball. When I relax, I throw the ball harder.”

Cunningham and Williamson led the team in hitting, each going 2-for-3. Cunningham also finished with a walk, a double and two RBIs. Brascom went 1-4 with a triple and two RBIs. Contreras was 1-4 with a double and a RBI.

Friday’s big game is 7 p.m. at Westlake.

“I’m really confident,” Bacon said. “Our team does really good being the underdog. We thrive on that energy. It’s going to be fun. We’re all really excited and feel really good. We’re ready to upset (them).”

Lake Travis will host Hendrickson in a nondistrict game 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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