Senior’s first homer comes at great time for Lady Broncos

Posted Monday, May. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Senior third baseman Kolbee Gray bats cleanup for the Lady Broncos. She has power and leads the team in RBIs. Over the course of her career at Legacy, she’s had some big hits. But until last Friday night, none of them had gone over the fence.

Gray’s two-run blast against Sulphur Springs was the difference in Legacy’s 4-2 victory, which propelled them into the 4A Region II semifinals this week against Forney.

“I’ve always been a power hitter, but I guess it was just my time to hit one out,” Gray said. “It just wasn’t the right timing before … I was shocked at first and then I was excited.”

Legacy coach Michelle Mayfield admits that Gray’s homer came as a bit of a surprise, but she stops short of calling it shocking.

“She’s always had that in her, she’s just more of a line-drive hitter,” Mayfield said. “She’s always displayed the power and she’s definitely always had the ability to come through when the game is on the line. She’s been clutch this year; she’s leading the team in RBIs, so I was excited to have her up in that situation. I can’t say I expected a home run, but I can’t say it surprised me.”

The Lady Broncos were leading 2-1 when Gray took Sulphur Springs pitcher Hailey Dixon deep in the fifth. It was the last of only four hits for Legacy in the game and gave them a 4-1 lead.

The Lady Wildcats would add an unearned run in the seventh, but freshman pitcher Karlie Milburn came in to slam the door shut and keep Legacy’s season alive.

“Karlie Milburn is just a rock on the mound,” Mayfield said. “She’s come in and shut down teams in the sixth and seventh innings. We’re just really excited to have her.”

Milburn replaced junior Ryan Wright, who allowed just two hits over her six innings of work, striking out eight and not allowing an earned run.

“Ryan has really stepped up,” Mayfield said. “She had to, based on Kendall’s [Potts] injury. She’s just grown more confident and more confident with every game she throws. She threw great against Sulphur Springs. We’ll expect her to carry a lot of the load this weekend against Forney.”

The Lady Broncos have yet to lose a postseason game, but after losing a coin toss, Legacy faced elimination for the first time because Sulphur Springs opted for a one-game playoff instead of a three-game series. Mayfield feels her girls handled the pressure well.

“We talked about before the game how it was win or go home,” she said. “I think you have to take a little different approach, although every game we talk about concentrating and staying focused for every single out, every single inning and not giving teams opportunities.”

Gray admitted it was in the back of their minds that a loss would end the season.

“We had a little nerves just knowing that it was either win or lose, but we knew that we were going to have to come and show our best because we knew that Sulphur Springs were going to come and show their best, too.”

The Lady Broncos are now a series win away from matching the longest postseason march in school history. Gray was part of that 2010 Legacy team that made it to the regional finals, and she feels they’re better equipped for the emotions this time around.

“Three years ago I don’t think we were as motivated as we are this year,” she said. “We realize this year that we need to work more on the little things and get better at the basics so that whenever the time comes, the entire team is ready and we’re all together.”

Legacy must first get by Forney, champions of District 10-4A.

“They’re a lot like us in many ways,” Mayfield said of the Lady Jackrabbits. “They’ve got a good pitching staff; they’ve got a solid defense; they hit the ball very well, so I think it’s going to be a good matchup.

“We’re definitely going to have to tighten up our defense and not give so many opportunities that we’ve given in the past few rounds, as in not making routine plays when we need to. We’ve given some teams some opportunities by not catching fly balls or not making routines plays on ground outs and things like that. So we just need to clean that up and play to our capabilities on all sides of the ball.”

Gray shares the outlook of her coach, and is confident the team can make Legacy history.

“If we do what we’re supposed to be doing, we should still be playing when the state tournament comes around.”

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