Forsan's Ali Knight delivers a pitch during Thursday's 10-3 win over Eldorado in Game 1 of the area round of the playoffs.
Photo credit/Shaun McVicars
SAN ANGELO â€” Just as its first playoff opponent, Clyde-Eula did, No. 9 ranked Eldorado jumped out to an early lead over Forsan on Thursday at Lake View High School.
The Lady Eagles scored two runs in the bottom of the first after a pair of base hits and a couple of errors were committed by the Lady Buffaloes.
"I don't know why we start out that way," FHS Head Coach Shanna Taylor said with a laugh. "It could a be jitters we have to get past. But the girls never seem to get in panic mode."
Part of the reason the Lady Buffs keep their cool comes from high-intensity practices.
"We have really been working on pressure situations," Taylor said.
The two-run deficit didn't rattle Forsan, however, as junior pitcher Ali Knight became dominant from the circle, striking out nine Eldorado batters and at one point retiring 13 straight to lead the Lady Buffs to a 10-3 area round victory.
Forsan's offense woke up in the top of the third inning.
Still trailing 2-0, Jahnia Willard was hit by a pitch, stole second and was thrown out on the base path, while Knight reached on fielder's choice. Kayla Tilley walked, then Rosie Munoz cracked a two-run single â€” her fourth hit of the postseason â€” sending Knight and Tilley home to tie it up.
The go-ahead run came when Gabby Womack reached base on a fielder's choice, Munoz was erased on her way to second, but Shelby Roemer â€” who recorded her fifth hit in six at-bats â€” crossed home plate, making it 3-2.
Forsan extended its lead by one in the top of fourth when Kaylee Kemper scored on a single by Knight, but it was the top of the sixth which took all the wind out of Eldorado's sails.
Maria Ortiz led off the inning with a double, Kemper's contact advanced Ortiz to second and Knight struck again, smacking another RBI single, Tilley followed with a single, then Roemer had a base hit, scoring Knight and and Tilley with the help of an Eldorado miscue to give the Lady Buffs a comfortable, 7-2 lead.
The Lady Eagles tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth, but a three-run blast by Jahnia Willard â€” her second postseason homer â€” scored Ortiz and pinch hitter Lindsey Boeker, giving Forsan a seven-run advantage.
Knight retired the side during the bottom half of the inning to close out the game.
Taylor won back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010. Taylor-coached squads have also never finished with less than an area championship under her tutelage. She feels this could be the year for No. 3.
"We have a good, strong lineup," Taylor added. "Ali is pitching well and we are playing good defense. I think we definitely have a shot at getting to Austin."
After dropping from 2A to 1A, Forsan has been dominating most of the competition, but they did finish behind Westbrook in District 6-1A with a record of 12-2.
Despite the lopsided victory, Taylor said her team isn't looking past anybody.
"Eldorado is a good team," Taylor explained. "They have some good hitters. From here on out, it's going to be tough. We'll have to play well and we'll have to play seven whole innings. I think the turning point was when we lost to Westbrook in the seventh inning. We had the lead and we ended up losing the ballgame. Since then, we've focused on playing complete games. They didn't want that to happen again."
The second outing of the best-of-three series is slated for Saturday at San Angelo Central at 1 p.m., with Game Three â€” if necessary â€” set for 3 p.m. the same day.
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