ANNA — Aubrey was in desperate need of some late-innings magic trailing Melissa by two runs in the bottom of the seventh Saturday night.
The Lady Chaparrals had all the makings of a rally that could have forced a Game 3 in place when Morgan McKim drew a leadoff walk to bring the tying run to the plate. But, as was the case throughout the best-of-three regional quarterfinal series, Aubrey just couldn’t get the timely hits needed to keep its season alive.
Melissa pitcher Alexis Pevehouse recorded three consecutive outs after the walk to secure a 3-1 win in Game 2 for the Lady Cardinals.
The victory completed a sweep of Aubrey and pushed Melissa on to the regional semifinals, where it will meet Paris North Lamar.
“Timing. Timing was such an issue in both games,” Aubrey coach Shon Ranton said. “The runners we did get on base in Game 1, we couldn’t get in. Then in Game 2, nine hits and only one run — that’s bad. All the praise to Melissa. They’re playing at a different level now, and we weren’t up to the task. We weren’t at the level we needed to be the last two days, that’s for sure.”
The Lady Chaparrals’ third-round exit from the playoffs came as a surprise to most after Aubrey, No. 2 in Class 4A, entered the postseason with just one loss. The Lady Chaparrals carried a 22-game unbeaten streak into Friday’s opener and defeated Melissa twice in District 12-4A play.
But Aubrey struggled to capitalize on a handful of scoring opportunities it created throughout the postseason rematch. The Lady Chaparrals had nine hits but scored just one run in Game 2 after totaling four hits and stranding seven runners in Game 1.
“We tried to tell them not to overlook Melissa, and we talked about that,” Ranton said. “But they’re human. We didn’t end the way we wanted to, but Melissa is playing better right now and we have to accept that.”
Aubrey’s lone senior, first baseman Hannah Howell, provided the team’s only run Saturday when she hit a double off the left field wall to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the sixth. But Melissa’s Audrey Solomon launched a solo home run in the top of the seventh and Bryton Wright added an RBI single to give Pevehouse all the run support she needed.
The Lady Chaparrals finished 24-3-2 and advanced to their second regional quarterfinal appearance in three years. Aubrey returns eight starters next season, including LSU commit Laney Roos, who went 2-for-4 at the plate and allowed just four hits from the circle Saturday.
“It’s very encouraging,” Ranton said. “I’m really excited, and that’s something we talked about there after the game. But it’s all going to come down to chemistry. If we have that working, we should be good.”