Over the past five district campaigns, the softball matchups between the No. 14 Belton Lady Tigers and No. 17 Waco Midway Pantherettes have resulted in either split or outright district championships.
On Monday night in Hewitt, another chapter in the Belton-Midway rivalry was written. And it had every twist and turn imaginable.
Belton was down 7-0 when they scored four runs in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh inning before Midway slammed the door on the Lady Tigers with the bases loaded as they closed out a 7-6 win.
The win increased Midway’s record to 11-2 overall and 4-0 in District 8-6A play.
The loss dropped Belton to 16-6-1 overall and 3-1 in district play, with San Angelo Central coming to town on Tuesday evening for a 6 p.m. game.
Madison Ward singled and Bethany Edwards walked with one out in the first inning. Caleigh Robinson grounded to Kadyn Trochim, who flipped the ball to Sami Martinez at second base to force out Edwards and fired the ball to Jenna Rowatt at first base to complete the double play and end the first inning for the Lady Tigers.
After McKenley Clark was hit by a pitch, and Sophie Wideman and Faith Fernandez were both walked by Belton starting pitcher Taylor Tubbs, Jenna Rowatt singled in Clark and courtesy runner Marlee Veloz to give Midway a 2-0 lead.
After Belton was retired in order in the second inning, Midway scored again in the bottom of the frame. Caroline Rowatt and Clark both singled with two outs, which Belton head coach Matt Blackburn countered with bringing in Madison Cotton to pitch to Wideman. On a 2-1 pitch, Wideman belted a waist-high fastball over the left field wall for a three-run homer to give Midway a 5-0 lead.
The Pantherettes added runs in the fourth and fifth.
Following a Midway double play on defense, Belton’s offensive patience began to shine. With one out in fifth, Harley Staton walked, Miranda Davila sacrificed her to second base and Mackenzie Bartlett walked. Avery Drake pulled a shot that was scooped up by Jenna Rowatt at first base to retired the Tigers.
Belton chipped away at the lead in the top of the sixth inning. Ward singled, but was forced out at second base on a fielder’s choice by Edwards. Midway starter Jazmine Gendorf grooved a pitch belt-high to Robinson and the junior first baseman slammed the ball into the right field parking lot to narrow Belton’s deficit to five runs. Madison Bartlett reached on an error, Izzy Gutierrez singled, and Maddison Parker singled home two runs to get the Lady Tigers back to within three runs, 7-4.
After Cotton struck out three of the four batters she faced in the bottom of the sixth inning, Belton was faced with its last chance to push three runs across to tie. Facing Midway reliever Tatum Seith with one out, Ward walked. With two outs, Robinson walked and Payton Cook came on to courtesy run. Madison Bartlett reached on an infield single to load the bases. Gutierrez singled home Ward and Cook to narrow the margin to one. Staton was hit by a pitch to reload the bases. Gendorf came back into the ball game to strike out Parker to end the game, which left a trio of Lady Tigers on base.
Gendorf picked up the win for Midway, pitched 6 1/3 innings, surrendered four runs (two earned), on five hits, walked three and struck out two. Seith pitched 2/3 of an inning, allowed two runs on two hits, struck out one and walked three.
Tubbs pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowed four runs on three hits, hit one batter, walked on and struck out one. Cotton pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits, two walks (both intentional) and five strikeouts.