During a season in which they are establishing history with each passing contest, the Lake Belton Lady Broncos made some more of it in a definitive way.
Lake Belton won the program’s first playoff game Thursday night with a no-hitter and 17-0 rout of Austin Eastside Memorial at Lady Bronco Field, advancing to face Lufkin Hudson or Robinson next week in the Class 4A area round.
There was no doubt from the start as the ninth-ranked Lady Broncos (25-5) produced a nine-run first inning and cruised from there, with pitchers Zakayia Frederick and Shelby Schultz not yielding any hits to the Lady Panthers (7-13).
“It’s pretty awesome,” Lake Belton coach Matt Blackburn said of the school’s inaugural softball season. “We basically broke this season into three parts with pre-district, district and the playoffs. We didn’t have an emphasis on being perfect, but to get better.”
The Lady Broncos batted around before Eastside Memorial recorded an out in the first inning.
Sophomore leadoff hitter Autumn Holman delivered her first out-of-the park home run, driving a 2-1 pitch from Casey Cruz well over the wall in right field.
“That was crazy and an exciting way to start the playoffs,” said Holman, typically a slap hitter. “I’m not used to just standing and hitting.”
It’s something Blackburn has encouraged her to do more often when the need arises.
“Autumn hits the ball really well and it was going to be a little more challenging to slap the ball against their pitching,” he said. “She did a good job of just standing there and hitting.”
The homer was followed by eight runs on five hits and three Lady Panthers errors. Casey Schultz, Angie DeLeon, Frederick and Hannah Jensen all drove in runs for the Lady Broncos in the first frame.
Lake Belton tacked on six runs in the second, highlighted by an inside-the-park homer from Elaina Herrera. The left-handed hitter delivered a hard shot through the right side of the infield to the outfield wall and hustled all the way home.
“I was just looking for third base, and Coach just kept waving me on,” she said. “It was time to turn on the jets.”
Lake Belton added two runs in the third for the 17-0 margin. Frederick drove home Madison Lux, and Anna Ramirez — who reached on a pinch-hit single — scored on a fielder’s choice.
While the Lady Broncos were feasting offensively, their pitching shut down the Lady Panthers. Frederick worked three perfect innings, striking out eight of the nine batters she faced. Shelby Schultz took over in the fourth, striking out six and walking two.
The game ended by way of the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth.
“The goal of this team is to get to (the state tournament) in Austin,” Blackburn said. “I’ve coached a lot of really good teams and good players in my career, and this is as good as any of them. We’ve played a lot of 5A and 6A (teams) throughout the year.”