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Tough test: Wakeland draws top-ranked Ennis in semifinals
After earning an 11-0 run-rule victory over Wylie on Saturday, the Lady Wolverines have outscored opponents 53-2 during this year’s postseason.
Competition figures to get much tougher for Wakeland during the semifinals, as top-ranked Ennis awaits the Lady Wolverines.
“[Ennis] is very good,” said Chris Southard, Wakeland head coach. “You don’t go most of the season ranked No. 1 in the state without being very good.”
The two teams will play a best-of-3 set, which began Thursday night at Mansfield Legacy (results not available as of press time) and concludes with Game 2 tonight at 7:30 and a potential third game slated for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Games 2 and 3 will both be played from Legacy as well.
“[Legacy] was a good location in the middle for both teams,” Southard said.
Saturday’s five-inning victory over Wylie was Wakeland’s 30th win of the season and came after seniors Hannah Newcomb and Darrian Dunn belted a pair of home runs at the plate.
“We loaded the bases in the first inning and didn’t score,” Southard said. “We also got a few runners on base in the second without scoring. I knew if we kept putting people on base that we’d eventually break through.”
Wakeland did exactly that, as a six-run third inning ultimately forced Wylie starting pitcher Meagan Richardson out of the game and put the Lady Wolverines in control for a remainder of the night.
With Newcomb dominating hitters on the hill, Wakeland set itself up for another run-rule victory after accomplishing that feat in each of its first four playoff games.
“[Newcomb] did a great job of being economical with her pitches,” Southard said. “She used her defense behind her and let them make plays. It was fun to watch.”
The senior ended the game with just two hits allowed in five innings of work.
Meanwhile, Dunn belted a game-ending homer in the fifth that put the team up by 11 runs and into the regional semifinals.
“The whole lineup from top to bottom looked really good,” Southard said.
At 30-6 on the season, the Lady Wolverines will now get perhaps their toughest test of the season in Ennis.
“It’ll be a big challenge for us for sure,” Southard said. “[Ennis] is definitely a top one or two team that we’ve played.”
Sophomore Taylor Maliska will start opposite Newcomb in Game 1 of the best-of-3 set. Southard said the Ennis lefty is hard to hit and has a solid lineup supporting her.
“They have a lot of speed and power throughout their lineup,” he said.
With Newcomb shutting down opposing offenses throughout the playoffs, the opening game could see a classic pitcher’s duel.
“[Newcomb] is doing great now,” Southard said. “She had an elbow issue earlier in the year but that’s not a problem anymore.”