ALVIN — The Brazoswood Lady Bucs scored early and never let up.
RBI hits by seniors Bella Owens and Cristyna Del Hierro set the tone, and a five-run sixth inning was the cherry on top of a perfect recipe for taking Game 1 of a Class 6A, Region III quarterfinal against defending state champion Deer Park, 8-0, Thursday night.
Game 2 is at 6:30 p.m. today in Alvin. A Lady Bucs’ (33-6) win will advance the team to a regional semifinal against either George Ranch or Seven Lakes.
“Getting the first run of the ball game was a big hit because Peyton (Tanner) was already looking sharp,” Brazoswood coach Laura Oltman said. “You give her a lead, her confidence just grows.”
The Lady Bucs hammered eight hits against Deer Park (35-4) starting pitcher and Ole Miss commit Madison Applebe. Brazoswood’s No. 2 through 5 hitters accounted for six of those hits and seven RBIs, including two runs driven in each by Haley Hughes and Del Hierro.
The team also thrived in hitting with two outs, going 4-for-10 with four runs scored in those situations.
Taylor Meier got things going for B’wood in the bottom of the first inning with a leadoff walk, and Hughes drew a one-out walk to put two runners on. Two batters later, Owens took Applebe’s 3-2 offering to left field, driving in Meier for the early 1-0 lead as the senior got the Brazoswood faithful fired up.
Raelyn Kinard reached on a one-out single in the bottom of the third inning, and two at-bats later, Del Hierro brought her home with a hit that reached the outfield wall for a triple. Both runs came with two outs.
“I’m happy for Bella because that kid has had a tough year,” Oltman said. “But she wants this, and she is being a leader.”
Deer Park had its most significant threat in the top of the fourth, beginning with back-to-back one-out singles by Kaitlyn Zaid and Madison Bailey.
Tanner walked Erin Perez to load the bases, but she got out of the jam. Bryanna Fuentes bunted on the first pitch, which Hughes caught before running into Siannah Nava, who crashed in from third base. Nava gobbled up Applebe’s ground ball in the next at-bat, and the freshman darted her throw to first for the third out.
Kylie Wilson tried to start a fifth-inning rally by singling with two outs. The sophomore took off for second base on the next pitch, but Hughes gunned her down to end the frame.
“We’ve talked a lot about staying calm on defense when things start to happen,” Oltman said. “I was proud in the inning where the bases were loaded; we stayed relaxed and made the plays. Siannah (Nava) made a nice play over here (third base) to get the job done.”
The Lady Bucs returned to their scoring ways in the home half of the fifth when Meier drew a walk, and Kinard scored her with a single after Meier swiped second and third base.
Pinch-hitter Taylor Tracy started Brazoswood’s sixth inning with a double, and Kaylin Jansky walked to put two on with no outs. Both runners advanced on CiCi Jefferson’s sacrifice, and Jaeslyn Frazier beat out the throw to first for an infield single to load the bases.
Tanner reached on an error at short, allowing Tracy to score, and Meier walked, bringing Jansky home for a 5-0 lead. After a fielder’s choice forced Frazier out at home, Hughes took Applebe’s final pitch of the night to center field, driving in courtesy runner Arianna Cantu and Meier for an insurmountable 7-0 lead.
“She’s the kind of hitter that you just expect, at some point, to hit one,” Oltman said. “She hits up the middle, she hits down on the ball, doesn’t pop up a lot, so she gives herself good odds.
“And that was a nice, timely hit there to seal things a little bit.”
Hughes finished an eventful night batting 1-for-3, scored once and drove in a pair.
It was another struggling outing for Applebe against Brazoswood. She surrendered six runs on seven hits in Game 2 of last year’s regional quarterfinal matchup and let eight runs cross home plate on seven hits Thursday night.
B’wood’s final run came when Del Hierro drove a ball to left field for an RBI double, bringing in Kinard. The senior second baseman batted 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
“CD has been consistent all season long, actually, so to see her continue to do that in big moments; we are proud of her,” Oltman said.
Tanner put together another solid performance. The sophomore scattered five hits, striking out 10 and walking just one in a complete-game effort.