Kassidy Krupit had already yanked her facemask off and started her return trip to the dugout. But the result of her 2-2 changeup to North Forsyth's Ashleigh Grace was not what Krupit expected when the pitch left her hand.
It was a ball. Grace stayed alive, and two pitches later, she hit a double to extend the inning. After Haley Simpson was intentionally walked, Mallorie Black singled, scoring two runs and putting Krupit's Lambert squad behind 4-2.
"This year, I feel like we're learning a lot more," Krupit said. "Because how are we going to get better if we're not getting out of these situations?"
Six games in, Lambert has two losses, which is two more than they had in 15 games in last year's region slate. They've had to be more resilient, fighting through a season that seems much less charmed. And that makes wins like Wednesday's, when the Longhorns surged back to beat the Raiders 6-4, feel a bit more special.
Lambert (11-6, 4-2 Region 5-7A) didn't take much time to flip the deficit. The Longhorns had come back once before in the game, scoring two runs in the fourth to erase the 2-0 lead North (6-7, 2-3) had built with runs in the first and third innings. In the top of the sixth, a half-inning after the Raiders' two-out rally against Krupit, scored four runs, two off errors and two off an RBI triple from Allie Sewell, one of the few members of Lambert's lineup who wasn't part of last year's squad.
"I just know (that) we're fighting more," Sewell said. "We're building more self-confidence and we trust each other more."
Lambert head coach Brooks Youngblood pointed to a team-wide offensive slump as the source of some of the Longhorns' issues. And even in 2016, Lambert didn't outslug many teams -- they were exceptionally strong in one and two-run games.
With inevitable regression, a depleted pitching staff and the injury-related absence of Brooke Miller, who was expected to be a key offensive contributor, it makes sense that the Longhorns would be a bit more vulnerable this year.
"It's been an interesting year," Youngblood said. "...It's been tough."
But they're 4-2 in the region, ahead of every other team except South Forsyth, who as of Wednesday had played five region games to the Longhorns' six. This year's Lambert squad won't go in the history books like last year's, but they're no less of a contender.
"I think today was a start," Youngblood said.