Cathy Rudy knew her young but talented Martin softball team would face a formidable challenge in its playoff-opening series against Southlake Carroll.
“They’re a great team,” Rudy said. “We knew it was going to be a fight no matter what.”
The Lady Warriors earned a No. 1 seed in the playoffs by sweeping through District 3-5A play undefeated. On other hand, Carroll had to scrap and claw just to make the playoffs. Youthful Martin experienced how tough it can be facing a team that’s playing with an edge.
The Lady Dragons rallied past Martin for a 6-3 Game 1 victory at Martin’s home Workman Field. Carroll was able to take the series with a 4-0 Game 2 victory.
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Like Martin, Bowie also faced a difficult foe in bi-district play. The Lady Vols fell to Richland in two games.
After the first game of the Martin-Carroll series, in which the Lady Warriors built an early 2-0 lead, Carroll shortstop Alexa Wimberly said her team knew that it was no ordinary No. 4 seed but that the Lady Warriors were a legit top seed. Winning the series, she said, would be no easy feat.
“If we play our best tomorrow, I think we have it,” Wimberly said. “But we definitely cannot get overconfident. They are a good ballclub and they hit the ball well. We have to be ready defensively and hopefully our sticks will show up even better tomorrow and we’ll win the game.”
The opening game featured a strong outing by star freshman pitcher Lacey Mann, who won 11 games for the Lady Warriors on the season. Junior Krista Rude staked Martin to an early lead on a first-inning RBI double.
A difficult fifth inning in which Carroll took its first lead of the game included some defensive miscues. But after the game, Martin coach Cathy Rudy stressed that her young players are adept at learning from their mistakes.
“I had a lot of kids out there who are young,” Rudy said. “They’re smart kids; they know what to do, and I think they had a rough night — a couple of them … . And they’re going to fight back and they’re going to learn from those mistakes and they’re going to push.”
Wimberly said her Carroll team got accustomed to rallying from behind during its playoff push. The formula repeated that formula against Martin in Game 1.
“We had to find a way to come from behind,” Wimberly said. “Even one more loss and we probably don’t make it.”
Rudy said Carroll and its coach, Time Stuewe, gained valuable experience from playing in an ultracompetitive District 4-5A race.
“He’s a great coach and they have great players,” Rudy said. “He gets to play a playoff game every game in district. That’s a great district and that’s a hard district. … We had great teams in our district, too. But we got lucky in that we didn’t have to see some of the teams he had to see.”