ARLINGTON — Playing a rough district schedule has prepared Justin Northwest to be patient at the plate.
The Texans needed it Friday night as Brianna Barnhill broke open a pitching duel with a three-run home run in the fifth inning to help her team to a 5-1 bi-district win over Weatherford at Workman Softball Complex.
Northwest (18-16) advances to the area round and will face the winner of Midland and El Paso Montwood next weekend.
“Coach has talked about being patient all season, but we hung in there tonight,” Barnhill said. “I basically saw all the pitches in my first two at-bats and I was ready for a first-pitch strike, I got it.”
The homer was her eighth of the season and gave her the single-season team record.
For Weatherford, which ended its season 28-6, the outburst couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Kangaroos pitcher Kelso O’Brien retired the first nine hitters she faced before a double by Northwest’s Darrian Ross.
O’Brien retired the side after that and had only thrown 58 pitches, 40 for strikes.
But Northwest found its offensive groove. Shayla Vegas singled to open up things in the fifth and scored from second on an error for the game’s first run.
Weatherford’s defense looked like it might bail out O’Brien, picking up a couple of outs to save runs before Barnhill came to the plate.
The junior leadoff hitter struck out on five pitches in the first inning and doubled in the fourth to break up the perfect run.
Her homer cleared the left-field wall.
“O’Brien had shown some that she was willing to challenge with first-pitch strikes,” Northwest coach Tanya Morrow said. “So it was good how much work they forced her to do early. Brianna had a green light if the pitch was there.”
Weatherford sniffed a chance to tie things in the sixth when Tawnye Bramlett’s single scored Liz Konig to make it 4-1.
But Bramlett was doubled off after Abbey Cowen’s liner was snared by third baseman Andrea Haisten.
“I’m not sure what happened,” Weatherford coach Ty Comstock said. “It was just unfortunate how and when they scored all the runs and that’s not easy to overcome.”
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