Jacksonville Daily Progress
Jacksonville's Fightin' Maiden softball team is about a whisker away from earning what would be a school-first playoff appearance, after the Maidens carved out a 9-2 win over Nacogdoches at Lady Dragon Softball Field Tuesday night.
Jacksonville is now 3-4 in District 16-4A play and is two games in front of fifth-place Nacogdoches (1-6), with three regular season games left on the docket.
The Maidens have Whitehouse, John Tyler and Lindale remaining and a win in any of those games, regardless of what happens with Nacogdoches, would give Jacksonville the fourth, and final, playoff spot out of the loop.
“Our girls came out (Tuesday) and did exactly what they needed to do to put themselves in a playoff position,” Jacksonville head softball coach, Amber Danner-Kirk, said following the game. They have come out and worked hard against everyone that we have played and I am very proud of them. They are earning their wins; the are not expecting it.”
The Fightin' Maidens got after the Lady Dragons early, and after each team had scored two runs, respectively, in the opening inning Jacksonville erupted for a four-run second frame to gain the upper hand once and for all.
With one out, Hannah Holcomb reached base on an infield single and went to second on a Lady Dragon error — Nacogdoches made nine gaffes in the first two innings, with Jacksonville making the home team pay for its mistakes.
Holcomb then stole third and came in to score on a passed ball.
Nicole Robinson reached on a fielder's choice and swiped second to move into scoring position.
Robinson scored following a Tasheena Canady triple into the gap in right field, which also plated Jordane Mallard, who had got aboard on an error.
Canady had a big night offensively by going two for three with two RBI, two runs scored and a dramatic steal of home plate in the sixth inning when Jacksonville added three insurance runs.
Canady would eventually score on another passed ball to complete the run production for the Maidens in the second.
“We talked as a team on the bus on the way to the game and we said that we were the visitors and that we had to come out and put some runs on the board early,” Danner-Kirk said. “So much of softball is mental and the early lead gave our kids a lot of confidence.”
Jacksonville also played well defensively, with right fielder Logan Freeman making a shoe-string catch after a long run that came with the Lady Dragons having runners on second and third in the third segment.
The Maidens also turned a 6-3-5 double play with one out in the fifth, with Robinson, Taylor Whitaker and Canady combining efforts on the twin killing.
Mallard, the Maiden catcher, and shortstop Robinson also teamed up to get a Lady Dragon out who was attempting to steal second base late in the game.
“We have spent a lot of time working one on one with the girls this year in order to improve our defense and it was good to see that work pay off in a game,” Danner-Kirk said. “We put an extra big focus on defense in this game because we knew Nacogdoches would be putting the ball in play,” Danner-Kirk said.
Other players of impact on the offensive side for Jacksonville included Whitaker (1 for 2, with a double, an RBI and a run scored) and Dashia Canady (1 for 2, 2 RBI and a stolen base).
Caitlyn Matejka and Erin McGarity had base hits in the game for the Maidens.
Matejka also stole a base and scored one run.
Holcomb netted a complete game win in the circle for the Maidens. She gave up two runs on 10 hits and struck out one and walked one.
Jacksonville is at home Friday when Whitehouse visits Fightin' Maiden Field for a 6 p.m. affair.