CRANDALL — When Nakaila Banks led off with a single and scored soon after a sacrifice bunt and two errors, it looked like Hubbard might be looking at a big offensive night. It turned out to be anything but, and it also turned out to be more than enough.
Olivia Curtis was splendid on the mound, striking out 13, and the Lady Jags dumped Trenton, 3-0, in the Region II-1A semifinals before a crowd of 250 in Crandall.
Hubbard, now 24-6-1, is one win away from skipping over to I-35, turning left, and heading to Austin and the state tournament.
“This was our experience coming through,” said Hubbard coach Mike Saucke, who had led one team in 27 years to a regional finals appearance. He had four losses in the regional semifinals, and has never been to Austin.
Hubbard will face the winner of the Bosqueville-Sam Rayburn series. This is Hubbard’s deepest trek in the playoffs.
“That was a great ballclub we beat,” Saucke said. “They’re very young.
“This was another fun game to coach.”
A week after besting Mart, which beat the Lady Jags for the District 11-1A title, 7-6 in a rather high-scoring game, Hubbard and Curtis clipped along at a quick pace Friday. The Lady Jags scored a run in each of the first three innings, the first two unearned.
At times Curtis looked vulnerable, but through the middle innings she gained steam. She retired 11 of the last 12 batters she faced, with Trenton senior third baseman Ally Murphy sneaking in her second single with one out in the sixth.
Curtis responded by getting her 10th and 11th strikeouts to make sure Murphy did not become only the fourth Lady Tiger to reach second.
None reached third.
“Last week, everybody was tuned in to our pitcher, and our sticks came alive,” Saucke said. “This week, our defense came alive.”