Roberts, Lady Deer rally late to stun North Shore in eight innings 4-3
HOUSTON - If Jasie Roberts seemed pretty excited to be playing softball during spring break before Monday’s game, she was three times more excited after Deer Park’s first spring break contest.
Roberts culminated a late innings rally when she belted a dramatic eighth-inning home run that propelled the Lady Deer to a come-from-behind 4-3 District 21-6A victory over North Shore at Mustang Field.
In upping their young district record to 3-0, Deer Park overcame a 3-0 deficit in its final two at-bats.
But the home run heroics by Roberts capped a sensational game for the four-year letterman.
Defensively, she may have won the game for her teammates back in the fourth inning when she dove and snagged a sinking liner in shallow right field, forcing the Mustangs to leave the bases loaded and preserving a 0-0 game.
No two ways about it, it was a beautiful catch, one that will be difficult to match over the next 11 district games.
“That saved at least one and possibly two runs. I thought she was going to come up with one more,” said Deer Park head coach Errica Cantu, referring to the fifth-inning RBI triple by North Shore’s Melanie Montes that sailed by Roberts’ glove by inches and went to the fence.
“All game, I was thinking the ball was coming to me. They hit some over us and some in front of us. So the best way to prepare for that was to expect the ball to come to me every pitch. It was a little bit of a reaction but that one, it just happened. Bases loaded, I couldn’t let it drop. That was the play, I think. That was the switch for us,” Roberts said.
But her diving catch in the fourth inning would have almost been forgotten had it not been for her inning-opening shot over the left-field wall that hugged the foul line.
“I was going for a double. In practice lately, I’ve been working to go off the wall and not trying to hit the ball over the fence every time. Going for doubles and RBIs has really been working for me,” said Roberts, who is 5-for-7 at the plate with four RBIs and three runs scored since last Friday’s La Porte game.
Leading off a frame apparently is what the team’s clean-up batter loves best when batting.
“I’m a big fan of hitting first in any inning so that helped a little, too. I don’t know, I feel I can set the tone. I can determine the inning. We’re a big string-hitting team. One person gets a hit and then the next and then the next,” Roberts said.
“Jasie has been clutch several times. She is a great, great hitter. She has come through for us when we’ve needed her time and time again. We are lucky to have her,” Deer Park head coach Errica Cantu said.
After North Shore scored all of its runs by batting around in the fifth, Deer Park got one back in the sixth on a Roberts RBI single to right field that scored Courtney Plocheck, who had singled to start the frame.
Then in the seventh, the team scored the tying runs after there was one out. Tabby Burnett reached on a shortstop’s wide throw to first and Sara Vanderford followed with a sizzling shot past the third-base bag that rolled inches fair for a triple.
Plocheck made sure Deer Park completely ate up the three-run deficit, tying the game when she flied out to center field, sending Vanderford home.
In snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, it made a winner in the pitching circle of freshman Madison Applebe, who turned into a relief pitcher on this day.
Applebe took over for Addison Lehew, Deer Park’s lefthander, after Montes’ run-scoring triple. Applebe, in raising her district record to 2-0, struck out eight of the 19 batters she faced.
Four of the opening six batters she faced reached base, but none of the balls were hard hit. A blooper to left field scored Montes, increasing the deficit 2-0, before an infield single scored the third run.
Applebe’s third strikeout of the inning was huge since it forced North Shore to leave the bases loaded, meaning the Mustangs left the bases loaded in back-to-back innings. Roberts’ dazzling catch one inning earlier accounted for North Shore’s first missed opportunity.
After a quiet sixth and seventh innings, North Shore put the potential winning runs on first and second base with singles and only one out, but Applebe induced Montes to fly out to right field, followed by her eighth strikeout to end the suspense.
North Shore’s nine-hole hitter was Deer Park’s toughest out all afternoon long. D’auna Jennings went 3-for-4, leading the Mustangs in hits.
Catalina Cavazos was the starting and losing pitcher. She went through Deer Park’s batting order the first time without allowing a single baserunner. She struck out five after her first tour through the Lady Deer’s lineup. The only batter to get a ball out of the infield was Amaya Montano when she lined out to left field.
Deer Park would collect two singles in the fourth and fifth innings, but nothing came of the team’s first basehits.
“We had scouted them last year. We knew what that pitcher had. But it was the first time for our hitters to see her, so we knew she was going to catch us off-guard and that’s what she did. She did a good job. She kept getting us with the rise ball and we kept swinging at it. Later in the game, we were able to make adjustments but not as soon as I would have liked,” Cantu said.
Deer Park goes for a 2-0 spring break ledger and 4-0 overall district mark when the team travels to C.E. King Tuesday afternoon for another 12:30 assignment. The JV kicks things off with a game at 11.