KATY – With a young roster and a little playoff experience, the George Ranch softball team still had the confidence to play tough-minded softball all season, which led to a share of the District 20-6A title.
But in their first foray in the playoffs on Thursday, the Longhorns reverted back to playing as a young and nervous team.
Cinco Ranch helped cause those jitters by putting up eight runs in the first inning and hitting three home runs in a 15-3 five-inning win over George Ranch in Game 1 of their 6A bi-district round playoff series at Cinco Ranch High School.
Game 2 and a possible third game was played on Friday at Cypress Falls High School, weather permitting.
The Lady Cougars hit two home runs off of George Ranch starting pitcher Zaria Turner in the first inning, while unable to get enough offense from its batters.
“It’s growing pains,” George Ranch head coach Donna Vrba said. “You got to see how you’re going to react in these situations, and sometimes our pitchers use the first inning to warm up and bounce back, but that didn’t happen for us today.
“But thank goodness it’s a series, and they have to beat us again, while we’ll have to beat them twice. So we’ll see how that goes.”
Things started out well for George Ranch in the first inning, as junior shortstop Seleste Compian worked a two-out walk against Cinco Ranch pitcher Krista Burg, then freshman third baseman Jesyca Johnston hit a drive to center field that allowed Compian to score, but Johnston was tagged out trying to make her hit a triple.
But the Lady Cougars wasted little time in responding by getting seven straight hits off of Turner, including a three-run home run by catcher Riley Rutherford and a two-run homer by first baseman Mariah Hinojosa to put Cinco up 6-1.
Two more runs scored in the inning on a RBI single by Faith Piper and a wild pitch to put the Lady Cougars up 8-1 after an inning.
After the first two Cinco Ranch batters reached in the second inning, junior Nora Thompson came into the circle to pitch. But back-to-back errors led to two more runs scoring, then catcher Shelby Hodge blasted a pitch over the right field wall for a three-run home run that put the game out of reach.
The Lady Cougars scored two more runs in the fourth inning on a two-RBI single by Amanda Croteau to put Cinco Ranch up by 14 runs. George Ranch did get two runs back in the fifth inning as junior Kennedy Marlow got a RBI single that scored freshman Abby Bergeron, then a RBI groundout by Compian scored freshman Karrlauhn Deas. But the rally and the game ended on a groundout to second by Johnston.
The loss drops George Ranch to 6-2 on the season, while Cinco Ranch moved to 12-7.