COLLEGE STATION – Lesson for Liberty coaching staff: if you play with fire you are going to get burned.
Bullard’s Hadi Fults lifted a walk-off home run – her 22nd round tripper of the year - over the right field wall with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to give her team a thrilling 4-3 victory over Liberty in Game 1 of a Class 4A, Region III Semi-final Wednesday night at Texas A&M’s Davis Diamond.
Liberty coaches decided to intentionally walk Fults in the third inning with one runner aboard, but with no outs in the ninth Liberty decided to pitch to Fults.
The game was a see-saw affair as Bullard (38-3) jumped out to a 1-0 lead after one inning of play.
Liberty’s pack of Lady Panthers (34-8), the defending Class 4A state champions, then plated three runners in the top of the third to move in front.
Bullard answered by scoring three times in the bottom half of the third to move to a 4-3 lead.
The key blow came when Kamryn Honzell stroked a base hit that scored two runs and gave Bullard the one-run lead at that time.
That’s where things stood until a Hollie Thomas sacrifice fly to center field brought Reece Evans in to score from third base, which tied the game and forced extra innings. Evans led off the inning with a triple to right.
Anistyn Foster, the third Bullard pitcher of the night, collected the win in relief. She pitched two frames and held Liberty scoreless. Foster gave up one hit, struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.
Fults got the start in the circle for Bullard and gave up three runs in four innings of work and struck out three.
Freshman Brooklyn Brannen pitched the following three innings and surrendered one run on three hits and struck out two.
Kirsten Malone, Tatum Graul and Saylor Hunt had two hits apiece for Bullard, who ran their winning streak to 27 games.
Liberty’s Evans and Alex Wiley led their team with two hits each.
Brookelyn Taylor went the distance in the circle for Liberty.
The loss ended Liberty’s 19-game winning streak.
The two clubs will return to Davis Diamond for a 6 p.m. first pitch in Game 2 Thursday.
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