LLANO — Coach Jeremy Hickman didn’t give a rousing speech to his Tivy softball team before the third inning. There wasn’t a magical fix, or an “eureka” moment, either.
The Lady Antlers simply adjusted at the plate.
During the first two innings, Austin LBJ pitcher Maddie Dixon befuddled Tivy’s batters with her delayed delivery and the way her pitches spastically moved through the strike zone. For a moment, it looked as though the Lady Antlers’ bi-district playoff game was going to turn into a pitcher’s duel.
But that’s when Tivy’s batters began communicating with each other in the dugout, figuring out together how they were going to adjust to Dixon’s pitching style.
“The further you get along in the playoffs, you are going to see better pitching and defense,” Hickman said. “It’s going to be a war. … We have to able to adjust, work on timely hitting and getting clutch hits.”
The Lady Antlers accomplished all three after the second inning. Hickman didn’t want to disclose too many specifics in case Tivy faces a similar pitcher later in the playoffs, but whatever they did, it sure did work. The Lady Antlers scored 10 runs in the third and added eight more in the fourth to roll to a 19-0, five-inning victory over the Lady Jaguars on Friday in Llano to advance in the Class 5A playoffs. They will play Uvalde in the area round at a time and place to be determined.
After only mustering one run and one hit in the first two innings, the Lady Antlers (23-10-2) collected 12 hits in the third and fourth. Hickman then gave his junior varsity players at-bats in the fifth.
“We were able to get some barrels on the ball and make some things happen,” Hickman said. “It was a matter of making adjustments at the plate. I am proud of the girls for being mature when it comes to that. That just comes with seasoned players who understand what to do.”
Those same players (and their parents) were ready to celebrate their first career playoff win. After the game had ended, Kaitlyn Secor’s mom (Natalie Secor) entered the diamond carrying the same golden banner that the Lady Antlers used to celebrate last week’s district title. Only this time, Natalie scribbled the letters “Bi-” next to the words “District Champions” to celebrate Tivy’s latest achievement.
The Lady Antlers then began serenading her with the song “Happy Birthday.” Natalie’s birthday is on Saturday, and her biggest birthday wish was for the Lady Antlers to win their playoff game. Her daughter, Kaitlyn, made that wish come true with her performance in the circle, striking out seven batters and only allowing two baserunners.
Her lineup gave her plenty of support. Seniors Marissa Medina and Campbell Grona both supplied three hits; Amber Pintsch and Hannah Delgado added two.
The Lady Antlers were especially productive during at-bats with two outs, driving in 12 runs on seven hits. That level of production in pressure situation is an encouraging development for the Lady Antlers as they advance in the postseason.
“It shows that we have matured over the years,” Pintsch said of Tivy’s production with two outs. “We have really focused on our game and not letting other factors mess with us.
It’s nice to get this playoff game out of the way,” Pintsch continued. “It shows how we are growing. I am ready for the next one and to
see how far we can take this.”