Homer makes Wakeland say 'Doh': Fira does it again to eliminate Lady Wolverines
By Kieran Steckley, Special to the Enterprise
MANSFIELD -- In the Ennis-Frisco Wakeland softball Regional Semi-Final series, lighting struck twice.
Unfortunately for the no. 13 Wakeland Lady Wolverines, it struck them both times.
In back to back games, the No. 1 ranked Ennis Lady Lions won on last inning home runs by catcher Riley Fira. Her second homer came in the top of the seventh inning of the third and final game with a runner on first. Fira faced a 3-0 count, just as she did the previous night. She left the next pitch bouncing in the parking lot behind centerfield, eventually winning the game and the series.
Wakeland had pitched around Fira the entire game, but in the seventh, Lady Wolverine coach Chris Southard had but one method to prevent the UT-Arlington commit from doing any more damage.
"(In the seventh) we were trying to walk her," Southard said. "Obviously it didn't work out."
Lady Wolverine senior third basemen Darion Dunn had a stand out performance at the plate. She went 2-3, scoring three runs, and more importantly, hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Wakeland a one run lead going into the seventh.
Southard said the Fira home run did not diminish what Dunn was able to do the previous inning, putting her team on the brink of victory.
"She has been a great player for us for four years," Southard said. "She had struggled at the plate this series, and I'm so happy that she was able to give us that opportunity to win the game in the seventh."
The first two games of the series were back-and-forth contests with many lead changes, so no one was surprised when the finale was played the same way.
"Playing against a great team (like Ennis), we knew it was going to be this way," Southard said. "There were three one-run games, but it just didn't go our way."
Both teams got off the fast starts as three runs were scored by each team. Ennis loaded the bases with zero outs against Lady Wolverine pitcher Hannah Newcomb. Ennis managed three runs off four hits. In the bottom half of the inning, the Lady Lions were a mere one strike away from shutting down Wakeland, but Lady Wolverine catcher Tess Soefje started a two-out rally with a double off the left field wall. Following a Dunn base hit, Newcomb helped herself out with a two-run single. Jordan Swanner singled in Newcomb to cap off the inning.
Wakeland once again found themselves trailing Ennis in the fifth inning, this time they did not just tie they ballgame up, they took their first lead.
The Lady Wolverines loaded the bases with just one out; Miranda Owen tied the game when she reached on a throwing error by Ennis' Rylie Robertson. Wakeland got the go ahead run across when Haley Hicks hit a soft grounder towards second, beating the throw to first base.
The last scoring of the game before the late inning blasts came in the top of the sixth when Ennis' Ashley Deutsch and Abby Liska each had an RBI single.
Despite the loss, Southard emphasized that he was extremely proud of the way his team fought back from early deficits and was in position to pull off the upset.
"Every time we got down, we came back and were able to keep coming back," Southard said. "We just needed one more rally."
Afterwards, Southard had no problem acknowledging how great of a game was played Saturday afternoon.
"It was one of the greatest games I have ever been involved with and I'm sure it was a fun one to watch," Southard said.
Southard said that the team can continue to improve for next year, but that it will be tough after losing such a stand-out senior class.
"We have five great seniors, all have been four year starters and they have left a great legacy," Southard said. "I couldn't be prouder of them and what they accomplished."