Lady Mustangs punch ticket to the post-season

FRIENDSWOOD — The old saying "It's not how you start, but how you finish that counts" should be the slogan for the Friendswood Lady Mustangs.

A 2-4 district start wasn't a good indication that the Lady 'Stangs were going to extend their season beyond their league schedule.

Friendswood will look back at March 24 when they upset the Alvin Lady Yellowjackets and then went on a seven-game winning streak to improve their district record at 9-4 and in third place clinching a place in the playoffs.

"This is such a relief," Friendswood head coach Christa Williams-Yates said. "It has been a challenge with the weather we've had. We didn't know if we were going to get the game in against Clear Springs.

"We were supposed to go to Manvel, and that didn't work out. But what a better way to finish this at home against a good team. Clear Springs' first four or five batters can just rip it, but they're all good.

"I thought it was a well-played game on both sides."

Friendswood never trailed Clear Springs as they took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Ashley Elliott drew a two-out walk and Kendall Cross smashed a double to left-center to plate Elliott.

The Lady Mustangs made it 3-0 in the third after Savannah Hartman was hit by a pitch, bunted to second by Hannah Carpenter and scored on Elliott's clutch single to center. Following a ground out by Cross, Emily Jackson stroked a single to left to make it 3-0.

Clear Springs cut the lead to 3-1 in the fifth when Brianna DeVault led off with an opposite-field double to left, moved to third on a ground out by Kaylee Thomas before and then scored on another ground out by Shea Smith.

DeVault also sparked the late seventh inning rally when she drew a one-out walk. Franks struck out the next batter, Kaylee Thomas, but the next batter, Smith, drove a single to right, moving DeVault into scoring position. `Dani Elder drove in DeVault on a single, and the score was cut to 3-2. However, Friendswood freshman pitcher Haven Franks would induce a Lauren Whitley pop fly to third base for the 3-2 win.

"Haven did pretty well hitting her spots," Williams-Yates said. "She was a little uptight at times, just because she's trying so hard…and I'm OK with that.

"She worked through it. Now, we can just let the chips fall where they may. All I can ask for the girls is to compete, and that's what they did the last time against Alvin."

Alvin has already locked up the district title and the No. 1 seed while Dickinson and Friendswood will duel for the second and third seeds.

Alvin 5 - Friendswood 4

A day after the Friendswood Lady Mustangs won their seventh straight district game to clinch a playoff berth for the first time classified as Class 6A, they lost a hard-fought battle with first-place Alvin.

After two pitches and two outs in the top of the first inning, Ashley Elliott got plunked and Kendall Cross smashed a single to right setting up Elliott to score on an error during the next at-bat.

The Lady Mustangs added their second run of the game in the top of the third inning when Emily Jackson connected on a clutch two-out RBI single, scoring Savannah Hartman (leadoff single and stole second).

Six straight Lady Jackets played a role in Alvin scoring three runs in the bottom of the third.

An RBI single by Jordan McDonald, a run scoring on a hit by a pitch and a sacrifice fly by Mary Pourcio accounted for the Alvin runs.

Both teams exchanged runs in the fifth and sixth inning.

Savannah Hartman used her legs to knot the game up at three in the top of the fifth.

After Hartman led off with a single to center and stole second base, Hannah Carpenter sacrificed Hartman over to third base.

This set up Cross to connect on line-drive run-scoring single to right.

Alvin took advantage of another hit by a pitch (Jordan McDonald), this time to start the bottom of the fifth.

McDonald scored on an Avery Hearn RBI groundout after Mackenzie Savage doubled.

Three walks in the top of the sixth (Raegan Jones, Celina Saenz and Hartman) aided the Lady Mustangs to tie the game again at 4-4 when Jones scored on a passed ball.

The Lady Jackets took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth when McDonald laced a two-out run-scoring double to left, scoring Clarissa Barron.

Friendswood had a chance to tie the game or even take the lead with back-to-back one-out singles by Cross and Jackson (both runners stole a base, putting both runners in scoring position with one out in the top of the seventh). But Rachel Hertenberger (12 Ks) struck out the final two batters looking to end the game.

Collecting two or more hits for the Lady Mustangs were Hartman (two hits, two runs), Cross (three hits) and Jackson (three hits).