The state’s top two Class 5A girls’ softball teams are heading for a showdown.
After falling in the series opener and taking a close 2-1 win in Game 2, Barbers Hill’s bats came alive in a 11-1 victory over Friendswood on Saturday at the Deer Park ISD Softball Complex.
No. 2 Barbers Hill (38-4) will now face No. 1 Montgomery Lake Creek (38-0) in the first of a best-of-three regional semifinal series at Grand Oaks High School in Conroe at 6 p.m. Thursday. Game 2 will be at the same site at 5 p.m. Friday. If Game 3 is needed, it will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the second game.
“We’ve been preparing a long time for this matchup and now it’s here,” Barbers Hill head softball coach Aaron Fuller said. “Lake Creek is a very strong ballclub and our girls need to be at the top of their game if we expect to have a shot at another state title.”
In 2021, Barbers Hill eliminated Lake Creek in the regional final as the Eagles soared to the state championship over Aledo.
“You can bet they still remember what happened two years ago,” Fuller said. “They are going to come at us with everything they’ve got.”
Fuller said the Eagles must get a jump offensively on Lake Creek, who has been dominating its opponents on the scoreboard. The Lions most narrow margin of victory was a 7-5 win over Cedar Ridge in eight innings on Feb. 18.
With that said, Barbers Hill needs another performance like its 12-hit attack against Friendswood this past weekend.
After two scoreless innings in a pitcher’s battle between Barbers Hill’s Hailey Nutter and Friendswood’s Janelle Wilson, the Eagles broke things open in the bottom of the third.
With the bases loaded, Peyton Helmly was hit by a pitch to bring in the first run. Reagan Duty then unloaded a blast off the left field wall for a double that drove in three runs to extend the lead to 4-0.
Nutter retired the Mustangs in order in the top of the fourth inning, which was highlighted by a nice defensive play by shortstop Kamryn Bishop. Bishop snagged a sharply hit ball between third and short, then fired a perfect strike to first baseman Emma Hargrave for the out.
“Hailey had another great playoff outing,” Coach Fuller said. “She was really hitting her marks and it showed by limiting a strong team like Friendswood. We are hoping she continues on a role in the semifinals.”
The Eagles’ offensive onslaught continued into the fourth as Harper Gonzalez reached base on an infield single and Mia Mascaneras drew a walk to put runners at first and second. After Nutter struck out, Sophie Naivar ripped a drive down the right field line for a two-run triple to make the score 6-0. Naivar scored a short time later on a single up the middle by Brookelyn Livanec.
Duty came up big once again with one out as she slapped a two-RBI double to right field increasing the Eagles lead to 9-0. Barbers Hill then took a double-digit lead as Hargrave walked to bring in a run.
Friendswood finally got on the board in the top of the fifth as Lola Widner singled in Kira Sarabia making the score 10-1.
Nutter retired Friendswood quickly in the sixth inning, sending the Mustangs down in order. Barbers Hill’s Gonzalez launched a line drive off the center field wall. With two outs, Nutter lined an RBI single to invoke the 10-run rule and send the Eagles to the semifinals.
“I was proud of how we battled through the first two innings,” Fuller said. “We had some good looks at their pitcher in the first two games and we finally started clicking. I’m very proud of our team. The important thing is to keep our focus and keep doing the little things right. If we can do that good things will happen.”
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