When the Belton Lady Tigers Softball team departed Belton High School at 8 a.m. on Saturday, the temperature outside was 60 degrees.
As they arrived at Vista Ridge Lady Rangers’ Field an hour later, it was the same 60 degrees.
At 10:50 a.m., the arctic cold front hit Cedar Park and dropped the temperature 20 degrees. The wind went from calm to 20 miles-per-hour out of the north.
It was an early game-changer that everyone had to deal with. And it was an adjustment that was a bit more difficult for the Lady Tigers.
Belton went 1-2 in the four-team round robin, but manage to outscore their opponents 13-12 over three-game set.
Errors played a big part in the Lady Tigers losses against Elgin and Cedar Ridge. They bounced back for an error-free win against Vista Ridge.
Belton took an early 1-0 lead on Elgin in the first inning. Avery Drake reached base on an error, stole third base and scored on an error.
A double and an error scored two Lady Wildcat runs to give Elgin a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Hannah Kelley settled in strike out four batters in a five-batter stretch for Belton.
Miranda Davila walked to start the third inning and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches. Drake lined out to Elgin’s second baseman and fired an errant throw to third base to score Davila to tie the game at 2-2.
A single and a two-base error set up an RBI triple and sacrifice fly to give Elgin a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third. A two-base error in the bottom of the fourth inning gave the Lady Wildcats an insurance run and won 5-2.
Kelley pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits, struck out four batters and walked one.
Belton left two runners on base.
In the second game, the Lady Tigers took on Cedar Ridge, a Class 6A semifinalist a year ago, and jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning. Drake led off with a triple and Madison Ward drove in Drake with a single. Caleigh Robinson’s double knocked home Ward to increase Belton’s lead to 2-0. With two outs, freshman Paige Nunes, filling in for starting catcher Bethany Edwards, drilled a full-count fastball far and long over the left field fence and one-hopped the Rangers’ baseball field to double Belton’s lead to four runs.
The Lady Raiders answered with a long home run in the second inning and five runs in the third inning to take a 6-4 lead.
Mackenzie Bartlett singled and advanced to third on two wild pitches. Drake doubled in Mackenzie to draw Belton to within a run. Ward grounded out to advance Drake to third base and Robinson worked for an eight-pitch walk to put runners at the corners. With two outs, Maddison Parker was called out on a pitch that appeared out of the zone and time expired with the tying run at third base. Belton dropped the second game by a run, 6-5.
Drake went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and a run batted in. Nunes had two runs batted in for Belton, who stranded five runners on base.
Madison Cotton pitched three innings, allowed six runs on eight hard hits, surrendered two long homers and struck out one.
After a meal break and time to thaw out, Belton took on the host school Vista Ridge.
Drake led off the game with a triple to deep right centerfield and with one out, Robinson walked. Both were stranded to end the top of the first inning.
Taylor Tubbs got the start in the circle for Belton. After issuing a four-pitch walk to start the bottom of the first inning, she fanned the next two batters and induced a grounder to Mackenzie Bartlett at second base.
Nunes doubled on a 1-0 pitch to start the second inning. Harley Staton grounded out to shortstop to move Nunes to third base. Nunes scored on a wild pitch to get Belton on the scoreboard, 1-0.
Tubbs cruised along, having retired 11 straight before surrendering her only hit of the ballgame, which was a long home run to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Alina Holguin made a spectacular diving catch down the left field line to end the inning
Belton let loose a flurry of runs in the top of the fifth inning. Madison Bartlett led off the inning with a single, Mackenzie Bartlett was hit by a pitch in the foot and Drake walked on four pitches to load the bases. Ward walked to score Madison Bartlett to make the score 2-1 and Vista Ridge made a pitching change. A wild pitch scored Bartlett and Drake during Robinson’s at-bat to up the score to 4-1. Robinson then ripped a 2-2 pitch off of the Vista Ridge scoreboard beyond the left centerfield wall to make the score 6-1. After an out, Parker doubled. Nunes singled, but was thrown out at second on a close play where she got her hand on the base before the tag was applied. The field umpire, in front of the base and out of position, did not see Nunes’ hand sneak around the tag and called Nunes out.
Tubbs and the Lady Tigers retired Vista Ridge in the bottom of the fifth as time expired and won, 6-1.
Drake and Nunes each had two hits and Robinson had two runs batted in for Belton, who stranded four runners on base.
Tubbs pitched five innings, allowed one run on one hit, walked one and struck out three on just 43 pitches.
Belton will opening the 2018 regular season on Thursday, as take part in the 2018 Bryan-College Station Tournament. They will play Corpus Christi Moody at 1 p.m. at the Bryan Recreational Athletic Complex