Lambert went on the road and swept the series with Brookwood on Wednesday night to punch their ticket to the GHSA Softball Championships in Columbus for the second consecutive year.
“It feels great,” Lambert’s Kassidy Krupit said. “This program is making history one year at a time, and I just wanted the opportunity to build on that.”
Krupit put on a show in the first game, pitching a complete game shutout, allowing two hits and one walk, while striking out 11. She actually struck out the first five batters of the game in what was looking like a pitchers’ duel for the first four innings.
The game was tied at 0-0 after four, then Brookwood (19-11) self-destructed in the top of the fifth inning. The Broncos made three errors that led to two Longhorns runs.
Catherine Harper led off the inning and reached on an error from the shortstop. Two batters later, Lindsey Nelson laid a bunt down the first baseline and the throw went into right field, moving both runners into scoring position, but the Broncos inexplicably threw the ball to second with a runner on third, and Harper came in to score.
Later in the inning, Ansley Hyde hit a blooper into shallow center that went in and out of the centerfielder’s glove, plating another Longhorn baserunner.
That was all the run support Krupit needed, but just to be safe, Nelson added some insurance in the top of the sixth with a two-run double to deep left field, putting the Longhorns (20-11) up by a final score of 4-0. Nelson went 2-for-4 with a run and three RBI in the first game.
“Fantastic performance from the circle,” Lambert head coach Brooks Youngblood said. “The defense was solid. Offensively it took us a little while to get going, but they helped us out a little bit. We’re not gonna deny that they helped us out. We definitely took advantage of some mistakes, but then again, when we had the opportunity, the girls stepped up, so I’m really proud of them and proud of that performance.”
In the second game of the night, the Longhorns wasted no time getting started.
Krupit belted the first pitch she saw over the left-centerfield fence to put Lambert up 1-0 in the first. Then, she took care of business on the mound. She went 4 2/3 innings before her perfect game was spoiled by Emily Dover’s single to right.
The Longhorns got RBI from five different players in the second game, Krupit, Hyde, Ansley Dean, Allie Sewell, and Harper, on their way to a 5-0 lead.
But Brookwood didn’t go down without a fight. Danielle Taitt hit a three-run homer to the opposite field to cut Lambert’s lead to 5-3 in the sixth. With the momentum on the Broncos’ side, the crowd started to get into it, but Krupit was able to bounce back and get through the sixth, before closing it out in the seventh for a 5-3 victory.
“I always tell the girls momentum is a real fickle thing,” Youngblood said. “It moves from team-to-team very easily. You start to doubt yourself or not hustle and not make the plays you need to make, and all of a sudden, things start shifting their way. But these girls have been in a lot of close games this year, last year, so they know the feeling, and they know what it takes to win close games, so I don’t think they were phased by that.”
Krupit went the distance in both games, pitching 14 total innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out 20 on the night.
“Not gonna lie, it was tiring,” Krupit said. “But I knew if I had that grit, no one was gonna stop me. So if I just kept pushing, and I really wanted it, but I just had to prove it. And if I kept proving it, then I knew that I’d do my job.”
The Longhorns are now headed to Columbus for the second straight year, and they want the results to be different this time around.
“We went last year, so I know this team’s goal was to get back. Youngblood said. “So right now it’s a good feeling, but in the end, this is what their expectations were all year long, so they’re just taking care of business really.”