Need more cowbell! Lady Gladiators sweep Mildred for area championship

Image: Lady Gladiator, Jaclynn Lewis(15), hustles to third base and then heads home as requested by Italy’s head coach, Jennifer Reeves, during the second game of the area championship game against Mildred.

Lady Gladiator, Jaclynn Lewis(15), hustles to third base and then heads home as requested by Italy’s head coach, Jennifer Reeves, during the second game of the area championship game against Mildred. (Barry Byers)

Italy — Mildred scored two runs during in the top of the first-inning but a Megan Richards triple scores Jaclynn Lewis and Alyssa Richards to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom of the inning.

Lewis remains on the mound and starts the second inning with a strikeout. Mildred’s next batter walks but a popup hit to Lady Gladiator third baseman Katie Byers is caught for the second out. Mildred steals second base. A high fly ball to centerfield is nonchalantly caught by Madison Washington to secure the third out and keep the score tied 2-2.

Byers bloops one over third base but the catch is made by Mildred’s third baseman for the first out of the second inning. Eubank and Wallis try to slap hit their way on to base but are thrown out at first for the second and third outs. The game moves into the top of the third-inning.

With an Italy fan yelling for more cowbell, Italy’s faithful obliges by increasing the noise level as air horns join in to add to the excitement. Lewis records a full count strikeout to get the first out. Lewis records another strikeout with Mildred’s batter swinging and missing. Bailey Bumpus, Italy’s senior shortstop catches a popup for the third out.

In the bottom of the third, Italy’s Washington has a high fly ball caught in right field for the first out. Lewis fights at the plate and earns a walk, one on for Italy. Alyssa Richards smacks a double to score Lewis giving the Lady Gladiators a 3-2 advantage. Big sister, Megan Richards, follows up with a double to left field. Lady Gladiator head coach, Jennifer Reeves, working hard at third base, sends Alyssa Richards home and Italy builds a 4-2 cushion.

With one out still, Bumpus singles to right field. Megan Richards holds up at third base nursing a sore ankle. Productive veteran, Alma Suaste, bunts and reaches first base to load the bases for Italy. Byers approaches the plate confidently with three of her teammates eager to race home. With the one out still one the board, Byers swung away until a liner broke thru Mildred’s infield for RBI single to separate Italy from the flock of Lady Eagles, 5-2. Eubank slaps a popup to short that is caught for the second out. Wallis tries to slap hit a bunt and heads for first but Mildred gets the force out at the plate for the third out.

In top of the fourth with Italy leading 5-2 and back on defense, Eubank fields a grounder at first base and makes an easy play to Megan Richards at first base for the out. Bumpus snags a ground ball hit to short and fires to Megan Richards at first for the second out. Lewis records a strikeout for the third out and Italy a maintains 3 run edge.

Washington earns a walk and then Lewis takes her turn at bat. Washington steals second and moments later takes third. Lewis is walked, as well, but keeps running and reaches second base, beating a throw to second. Washington heads home to make the score 6-2. Chills shutter down the Mildred fence line as Alyssa Richards grabs a bat and plots her way to the batter’s box. The intimidating presence of the Lady Gladiator Junior, prompts Mildred’s head coach to stall the game by huddling his infielders at the mound.

After a lengthy delay, the plate umpire implores Mildred to play ball but they are hesitant to turn and deal with the one they call “Bone Crusher.” Finally, play resumes, and Richards hits a grounder to Mildred’s shortstop advancing Lewis to scoring postition. Mildred gets the out at first but now must contend with Megan Richards who is armed with a bat and glaring toward the Lady Eagle pitcher. A chopper to the mound scores Lewis from third. Mildred gets their second out with a throw to first but Italy takes a 7-2 lead. Mildred strikes out the next batter but not soon enough and the Lady Gladiators retake the field.

Need more Cowbell!

Lewis starts off the top of the fifth with a full count to Mildred’s batter. The next pitch is popped up to third base where Byers dashes in for the snag to secure the first out. Moments later, Byers makes a diving catch in foul territory at the heart of the Mildred fan base. The plate umpire rushes over to give an emphatic fist pump signaling the catch has been made for an out. Byers laid flat on the “Italy” embroidered across her chest with her glove lifted up to prove the result. Mildred’s next batter hit on base followed by another batter that earned a walk.

Sensing that Lewis had gotten out of rhythm on the mound, Coach Reeves switched Lewis with Megan Richards at first base in an effort to secure the third out. Despite her sore ankle, Megan Richards took the hill. Mildred’s batter connects and sends a high fly ball to centerfield, potentially changing the course of the game. No worries as Italy’s senior right fielder Alma Suaste rushes over to make the catch and keep her team on it’s victory charted course.

Suaste is the first batter to start the bottom of the fifth and pops out behind the third base bag with MIldred’s shortstop hurrying over to make the grab. Italy’s next batter can do no better and with two outs, Byers returns to the plate in hopes of igniting a two out rally.

Byers scraps her way on base with a walk. Eubank gets on with a walk, as well. Wallis hits to advance the runners but is unable to reach first safely. With runners at second and third, Washington pounds a fly ball into left field that folds the glove over of the Mildred defender and then pops out. The hit results in a double that scores Byers and Eubank to make the score 9-2. Lewis is walked to put two runners on base but Italy hits into the third out with a grounder to third.

In the top of the sixth, Byers fields a grounder at third and then throws to Lewis at first for the out. Megan Richards records a strikeout for the second out. Eubank covers a grounder hit to second and tosses the ball to Lewis at first for the third out.

Need more Cowbell!

Bumpus is walked to start the bottom of the sixth and eventually reaches third base. That’s as far as she could get. Mildred gets three outs before giving Bumpus a chance and the game heads into the final inning.

With Lewis back on the hill for Italy and one out on the board, a grounder to the mound is fielded by Lewis who throws to Megan Richards at first base for the second out. A grounder is swallowed up by Byers down the third base line who throws to first for the games final out. The Lady Gladiators do some modest celebrating before congratulating Mildred’s squad. However, Italy’s fans let out a champions roar with their Lady Gladiators sweeping the Mildred Lady Eagles in two games with a 9-2 victory in game 2 of the series on Saturday.

Next up, the Italy Lady Gladiators will challenge Crawford in a Regional Championship matchup in Waco
(Waco ISD Sports Complex 1401 S.New Road, Waco, Texas 76711) at 7:00 p.m on Friday, May 11, and 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, in a best 2-out of-3 series. If a third game is needed, it will follow the first game played on Saturday.

Go Lady Gladiators!