AP NEWS

Lady Mustangs fall late to Barbers Hill, 2-1

May 12, 2019

CROSBY - Having won 24 of its previous 25 games, the Barbers Hill softball team hadn’t experienced a tense situation of late.

Trailing 1-0 in the fifth inning Saturday to Friendswood, the Lady Eagles needed a momentum-changer.

Much to the Lady Mustangs’ chagrin, that came in the form of a 3-hour rain delay.

When the teams resumed play, Barbers Hill sophomores Samantha Landry and Stephanie Niemann took command.

Niewmann drove in the tying run in the fifth inning, and then delivered the game-winning single into right-center with one out in the bottom of the seventh to rally the Lady Eagles to a 2-1 victory in a Class 5A regional quarterfinal matchup.

Landry, a hard-throwing right-hander, pitched an erratic one-hitter which featured six walks and a hit batsman, but after the rain delay she retired six of the final seven batters she faced.

She also helped silence several potential Friendswood scoring threats with her 10 strikeouts.

The only damage she suffered was a one-out home run from Lady Mustang shortstop Patricia Yarotsky, who blistered a line-drive shot over the left-center field wall in the fifth inning.

Barbers Hill (36-3) will next play Georgetown or A&M Consolidated.

“During the rain delay, we all said that this is our game, and we have to be mentally focused,” Landry said. “The one run they scored was kind of a wake-up call to all of us.

“We were like, dang, we have to get it together.”

Landry had to face Yarotsky again in the top of the seventh with one runner on base, but she was able to retire her on a soft liner back to the circle.

“I was like don’t call a changeup. I left it too high the first time (to Yarotsky). If I would have been scared throwing to her, then it would have happened again. I said ‘This is my circle, this is our game.’

“I got her out on a rise, but I threw a lot of drops before that.”

Barbers Hill scored the tying run in the fifth after Amber Thibodeaux led off with a single. Following a stolen base and a ground out by Matee Simon moved her to third, Niemann hit into an unassisted putout at first, but Thibodeaux crossed the plate.

The Lady Eagles pushed across the winning run in the seventh following a leadoff walk to Thibodeaux and Simon put down a sacrifice bunt.

That brought Niemann to the plate again and she promptly delivered her hit into right-center and Friendswood (24-5) had no chance of making a play at the plate on Thibodeaux.

“I was just telling myself that it was my last at-bat, and I had to get the ball down,” Niemann said. “I just felt it coming, and I knew it was going to be a hit.

“After the rain delay, we knew we had to execute and get at least one run, and after that we could battle it out. We were just mentally preparing ourselves the whole time (during the rain delay).”

Friendswood had a golden opportunity to score several runs in its initial at-bat when the rain was falling and the ball was slippery.

Yarotsky and Reagan Jones each walked and were wild pitched to third with none out in the first inning.

However, Caylynn Esparza grounded out to third base and the runners had to hold. Elizabeth Higgins then bounced a grounder to shortstop, but it was hit hard enough to result in a putout at the plate.

Chloe Riassetto then walked to load the bases, but Landry ended the threat with a strikeout of Lauren Adams.

In the third inning, Yarotsky and Esparza each walked with just one out, but Landry used a 6-3 ground out and another strikeout to escape trouble.

After Yarotsky belted her home run in the fifth, Jones walked, but Landry worked out of the jam once more.

Riassetto, a freshman, went the distance in the circle for Friendswood, striking out one and allowing seven hits.

“I didn’t feel like she was as sharp (after the delay),” Friendswood head coach Christa Yates said. “That’s part of being young. It’s a learning experience.

“We have only two seniors with any experience. It’s just a young team.”

Friendswood played only three games since April 17, making it difficult to stay in a groove.

“It’s tough,” Yates said. “I lost both flips to Dayton and Manvel so those were one-gamers. I lost the day flip on this once. It’s difficult to keep your routine, but at least you get to game plan for the following week.

“But I felt like we had some great moments this year. This was a special group of young ladies and we fought through some things. The two seniors will go on to do great things, and hopefully, these girls can build on what we accomplished this year.

“Honestly, this week was full of adversity. It’s been a long week, and when you add the rain delay to it…it is what it is.”

tdunnam@hcnonline.com