Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

May 2, 2013

Region XIV Softball: Blinn 9, Navarro 1

Blinn takes advantage of wind, opportunities

Corsicana — When the groundscrew removed the flag in left field, coaches wanted it back to judge the wind. The wind certainly played a role Thursday.

Blinn took advantage of the breaks it created, and Navarro could not as the Lady Bucs topped the Bulldogs, 9-1, in the first round of the Region XIV Softball Tournament at Jesse and Lou Cummings Field.

An error on a tough flyball to right allowed the Lady Bucs (38-18) to score three unearned runs in the third, and they plated six more in a fateful sixth that started with a double into left field that had Navarro’s Jessica Marshburn almost doing circles trying to track it.

“You don’t want to blame anything, but the wind was a factor,” said Navarro coach Jessica Karenke-Burke. “Routine fly balls turned into much bigger plays.”

The loss dropped the Bulldogs into the loser’s bracket. Blinn, meanwhile, is back in familiar territory, having advanced to four straight national tournaments.

But this is a double-elimination tournament, and two teams will make the trip to St. George, Utah for the nationals. Navarro will need to win four games in a row to earn a trip out west.

“It’s been a joke all year that this team never does anything the easy way,” Karenke-Burke said. “We feel like we have a group that can do it.”

Through two scoreless, the Bulldogs had the best chance to dent the scoreboard first. In the bottom of the second, Kristin Lopez led off with an infield single, and with one out, centerfielder Daniele Nash was hit by a pitch to put two on. But a groundout and a strikeout ended the threat.

A half-inning later, Blinn did the breaking out, and more than the wind was involved. Navarro starter Kaycee Spears did herself no favors by walking the leadoff hitter on four pitches, then Blinn second baseman Marissa Purcell beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt for a hit.

Spears induced a flyout and a pop-up to get to two outs, but then she walked Sydney Wellmon — again on four pitches — to bring up Blinn shortstop Kristina Davila, one of the conference’s best hitters.

After going to 2-2 and fouling off a number of pitches, Davila took one on what looked like the inside corner, and took a step toward the dugout because she thought she was out to end the inning. But the pitch was not called a strike, and on the 12th pitch of the bat, Davila lofted a fly ball into right field, right into the teeth of the wind, and it gave Mason Grubbs fits. She drifted back, then had to scurry forward, and the ball glanced out of her glove and Blinn scored the first two of three runs in the inning.

In the fifth, Navarro had a chance to get back in it after Corinne Brassell led off with a single, and Grubbs doubled to left-center field. Marshburn reached on a ground ball error when Wellmon, playing first for Blinn, appeared to take her eyes of the ball, paying a lot of attention to Brassell as she rounded third.

Monique Miller followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1, but two flyouts later and the Bulldogs’ threat ended.

Blinn unloaded in the sixth with five hits and five runs.

“We need to regroup,” Karenke-Burke said. “Our backs are against the wall.”

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