Sealy was down to its last out in the bottom of the seventh, trailing by three runs 5-2 to Fulshear and housing runners on first and second in a softball showdown.
Senior Makaylah Scott stepped to the plate in what could have been her last at-bat at Sealy High School and ripped a double that scored both base runners, allowing Scott to take third on the throw to the plate.
That brought up another senior in Diari Dabney, who, in the words of her coach, wasn’t on the hottest of streaks that night.
“(She) had been struggling (Tuesday night) and I just told her, ‘Hey kid just put it in play’ and she did her job,” said head coach Brittney Whitehead.
That job was accomplished with a groundball to shortstop which was not handled properly by the Lady Charger and found its way under her glove to score Scott easily, sending the game to extra innings tied at 5.
With two Fulshear runners in scoring position, senior pitcher Kendall Dornak induced a pop-up to first to bring the Lady Tigers back to the plate. To start the game, Sealy hopped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning. Now in extra innings, sophomore Kayla Camacho got things started and Scott provided another double to put two runners in scoring position for the Lady Tigers.
Up to the plate stepped Dornak, who said she knew this at-bat in the ninth inning was undoubtedly her time to shine.
“I was ready, I was slacking a little bit the rest of the game so I knew this was my time to hit so I had a lot of confidence,” she said.
That certainty allowed her to provide a wall-ball of her own, easily scoring Camacho to walk Sealy off with a win on senior night 6-5. For Dornak, it was a simple task because of how motivated she was, allowing her to hyper-focus on the pitch, blowing up the proportions of the ball.
“It looked like a big old fat ball and I just smacked it,” she said of the winning hit, adding that the notion of it being possibly the last time in that batter’s box crept into her mind, in a good way.
“That gave me a lot more motivation knowing it was my last official home game on this field and the last time in the circle on this field,” she said.
Coach Whitehead echoed the feeling that with this being the last shot at home, she wasn’t trying to leave the field on the losing end.
“I told them that we weren’t leaving this game until we came out with the win so we were going to fight until it was us winning at the end,” she said.
Her girls turned all the way around and came out on top, although it did take a little longer than Whitehead would have preferred. She said the message to the squad directly after the game was something along the lines of “Basically let’s not wait around until extra innings next time and let’s start with that energy we ended with and roll into playoffs with this energy,” she said.
“It was exciting, I didn’t expect it,” Whitehead continued. “Fulshear has the ability, I knew they had the talent so I didn’t really know what to expect out of this game. I thought we’d come out firing like El Campo did on us but we didn’t … We did score two runs in the first but it came to a halt so I was just hoping they would bring it back and they did, they did their job."
Although the outcome of that game would have done little to affect the playoff picture in District 25-4A, the Lady Tigers remain in the No. 3 slot with a record of 8-3 after Tuesday’s win with the season finale re-scheduled to Monday afternoon in Stafford.
A warm-up game with New Waverly was also added to the schedule before the playoffs begin with a best-of-3 series with the La Grange Lady Leopards starts Thursday the 25th in La Grange with game two set for the next day in Sealy. Whitehead added that the playoff berth already being locked up definitely helped, but there’s still work to be done.
“We know we’re in playoffs, third seed is basically locked up with one more game to go and I told them as we get deeper in the playoffs we’re going to see better pitching,” Whitehead said. “Our district hasn’t had the most powerful pitching and we’re going to be seeing better pitching so we need to be more disciplined at the plate; not swing at ball four and watching strike three. We need to be executing the right plays at the right time.”
All year it hasn’t been a secret that the seniors have supplied a lot of power to the 2019 brand of Lady Tiger softball and Whitehead spoke to the numbers on her squad.
“We say it often; we have eight seniors, that’s a lot,” Whitehead said. “I can fill almost my entire field with just seniors and the goal tonight was to start all my seniors, they mostly do start but Makenzie had an injury and she got sick so she wasn’t able to play which was unfortunate. Her team picked her up, they came in and stepped up, Kendall threw a great game, they did finally start hitting her but she shut them down at the end and then eventually got the walk-off which is awesome.”