The only thing Lambert messed up Wednesday night was the post-game ice dump on head coach Brooks Youngblood.
A damp but not dripping Youngblood grinned from ear to ear while his Lady Longhorns anxiously jumped in and out of photos holding a sign that read "Columbus Bound." Lambert never allowed a run across the plate, winning both games against Hillgrove at home, 2-0 and 9-0. It's the first time in program history--since 2009--that the team has advanced to Columbus for the state championships, which will begin Oct. 27 and run through Oct. 29.
"I can't say enough about how proud I am of these girls," Youngblood said. "I think going forward to state, they aren't satisfied with just being there. They think they've got some business to take care of."
Marissa Guimbarda shined brightest, hitting three home runs--two in Game 2--and recording four RBI, while starting pitcher Kassidy Krupit didn't walk a single batter, struck out nine, and lasted all 12 innings (Game 2 ended after five frames). Krupit also hit a home run in Game 2 to make the score 9-0, while freshman Brooke Miller went yard in the first game--right before Guimbarda.
"We have power, there's no doubt about it," Youngblood said. "We know this is kind of part of who we are."
Guimbarda is now up to 18 home runs on the season, while Krupit is at seven and Miller at five. All three players should contend for all-state accolades.
The night turned after five scoreless innings in Game 1, as Gracie Hogg seemed to have Lambert's hitters in a bind, but Miller and Guimbarda knocked back-to-back homers to seize momentum.
Krupit finished Game 1 allowing just four hits against five strikeouts. Guimbarda carried the momentum into Game 2 when her first at-bat resulted in a solo shot, then the Lady Longhorns brought home seven more runs in the second inning. Miller finished with a double and two RBI in Game 2, while Lindsey Nelson and Rachel Cowart also had an RBI a piece. Catie Rose Hays, Skylar Aledia and Graham Bryant all came home in the second frame, along with courtesy runners Anna Jackson and Catherine Harper.
Now the Longhorns will be one of eight teams in the Class 7A championship, which is a double-elimination bracket. The Longhorns made first round exits in each of the previous two seasons following a Sweet 16 appearance when the current seniors were freshman.
"This is a big step for us. It's a confirmation of a lot of hard work and dedication," Youngblood said.