AP NEWS

Lady Falcons advance to the regional semifinals after sweep

May 11, 2019

Christin Haygood came up to bat in the bottom of the first inning with two outs and the bases loaded.

The Hargrave sophomore first baseman found a hole up the middle and singled, driving in senior Dez Cardenas, who had walked to leadoff the half inning. Haygood also scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Hargrave Lady Falcons beat the Livingston Lady Lions 2-1 in Game 2 of their best-of-three Region III-4A regional quarterfinal, giving Hargrave the series win.

“It’s really nerve-wracking, but it’s a position you always want to be in,” Haygood said of walking up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded.

Haygood led of the bottom of the sixth inning with a stand-up double that bounced halfway up the left field wall.

She admitted she thought she had hit it over the fence and began her home run trot and momentarily panicked when she realized the ball was going to stay in the stadium.

Junior Kenzie Gates, the next batter, hit the ball into shallow right field and stretched the hit into the double, but Haygood was held at third base.

The next batter, junior right fielder Kyndel Berard, grounded to first. The first baseman touched first for the force out and threw the ball home. Haygood charged home, and the catcher applied the tag, but the home plate umpire called her safe in a close play.

Livingston’s Marley Mahoney reached on an error in the top of the seventh inning bringing up Bailey Bowers.

“We knew Bowers was one of their most dangerous hitters, and we weren’t going to give her anything to take the lead on us, so we sort of pitched around her, and we walked her,” coach Garrett Gates said. “Katy Janes and I already had that talk, we weren’t going to give her anything to hit because she’s very dangerous. I went out there and told her to settle down, and let’s go at this next hitter, and it worked out for us.”

Senior shortstop Alli Humphries got under a pop fly for the final out.

Livingston’s lone run of the game came in the top of the third inning when Taylor Hartsell led off the inning with a single, stole second, and scored with aggressive baserunning on a single by Marley Mahoney

Hargrave won the first game of the series 7-3 the previous night at Grand Oaks High School.

Hagen Pike had three hits in that game.

Bella Reid and Dez Cardenas each had two hits.

Junior Katy Janes pitched all 14 innings, striking out 15 batters in the series.

Hargrave and Livingston are District 21-4A opponents who were playing each other for the fifth time this season: the home and away district games, a district tiebreaker game and the two playoff games.

Livingston won the first regular season matchup 7-2, and Hargrave won the next two 1-0 and 4-1.

“I think (the familiarity) benefits both teams,” Gates said. “Both teams had seen all three pitchers, and it’s tough whenever we know each other that well. They are a very good team with a very dangerous lineup with a lot of speed. A tip my hat to Katy Janes for going two games back-to-back, pitching over 115 pitches each game.”

The Lady Falcons advance to the regional semifinals for a second consecutive season and the fifth time in the last eight seasons.

The Lady Falcons are 6-0 through the first three rounds of the playoffs with a total run differential of 39-6.

“We feel like we have a lot of momentum. The next round is definitely going to be a dogfight, but we’re ready for it,” Haygood said.

Hargrave will play the Lorena Lady Leopards, the team that knocked the out of the playoffs in the regional semifinals last year.

elliott.lapin@hearst.com