Varsity softball blows Akins out of the water with 16-1 final score

The Chaps’ first game of the season earned them a decisive win over Akins.
Harris Pemberton
Pitcher sophomore Eden Matt delivers a strike to catcher senior Gabrielle Churchill in the fourth inning of the Chaps’ 16-1 win over Akins Tuesday, Feb. 13 at the Westlake Softball Field. The Chaps’ offensive outburst led them to a run-rule victory.

As catcher senior Gabrielle Churchill stepped up to the plate, the crowd quieted. Soon, she’d have them on their feet and screaming in joy. She connected on a pitch right down the middle and sent it crashing into the scoreboard in right field. 

The three-run home run set the Chaps’ victory in stone, expanding their lead to double-digits for the first time in the season.

“That home run was pretty amazing,” Churchill said. “It really boosted our morale as well as our score, and it also killed theirs. I think that shot really drove the nail in, making it really hard for them to come back from 11-1.” 

Varsity softball hit just the one home run on Tuesday evening, but it mercy ruled Akins, 16-1, by the middle of the fourth inning. Pitcher sophomore Eden Matt landed six strikeouts and allowed just two hits to support her offense, which went through the batting order almost four full times in the shortened game. A pair of errors by Akins further aided the Chaps’ offensive outburst. 

“Well, I feel like the good backup behind me on the field was the support, and that helped stay confident,” Matt said. “Having a good catcher also helps, and I think having my coach’s confidence and just trying to have a positive attitude really got me going.”

Even though the Chaps varsity softball have struggled to make the playoffs the last few seasons, this time, they’re determined to pull through and fight for their place in the season. With a decisive win for their first game of the season, the Chaps’ morale is sky high.

 “We talked about making the playoffs,” head coach Haley Gaddis said. “This was the first game on the road to making the playoffs. I’m really happy we came in, made the statement to build our confidence up. That was a great way to start the season.”

The Akins offense got going early. The Eagles hit a double, followed by a single, putting them up 1-0 in the top of the first. Akins nearly extended its lead to two runs, but a timely relay by the fielders on a ball hit to center field allowed the Chaps to get the out at home. 

“They couldn’t have done [the relay] any better,” Gaddis said. “It was a very close play at the plate, and you had to have perfect throws all the way round. That was pretty awesome.”

Though the Eagles started hot offensively, the hit that led to the out at home was Akins’ last of the game. Matt put an end to their offensive momentum with two more strikeouts swiftly after. 

The Chaps’ offense worked extremely well when they got their turn to bat, scoring five runs before the end of the inning. Outfielder senior Campbell Smith and infielder senior Mia Rincon reached base on a single, and Churchill drove both of her teammates in with a two-run double to left field soon after. Infielder senior Emerson Crossan drove in a third run with a single, and the Chaps tallied two more runs on a wild pitch and an error. 

“Since we’re such a close team, when someone starts hitting we feel so supported by each other,” Rincon said. “We can keep it going. Campbell gets a hit. I get a hit, and it’s like a chain reaction.”

The fourth inning was the last inning of the game. Matt tallied her sixth strikeout of the game on Akins’ first batter of the inning. After this first out, a swift catch out and a ground out ended the Eagles’ last offense of the game, letting the Chaps switch from defense. 

Infielder senior Harper Merriman scored a single, but managed to get to second base due to an error from Akins as the second batter in the inning. Merriman was able to run to home base with the help of outfielder junior Sadie Cohen, who scored a double after her, bumping up the scoreboard to 12-1 in favor of the Chaps.

After this run, Smith, outfielder senior Hallie Cunningham, Rincon and Churchill went one after the other to bat, scoring four runs in together to end the game with a mercy rule at 16-1.

“We’ve been really focusing on team bonding and like going on trips together and spending as much time as possible together,” Rincon said. “I feel like that really shows how we connect with each other on the field.”

The Chaparrals’ next district game will be held on Tuesday Feb. 27 against Lake Travis High School. The Cavaliers, with a district record of 2-0, are currently second on the region leaderboard. The Chaps are right behind them on the leaderboard in third place, determined to prove their skill next week.

“We have most of our standards back from last year,” Gaddis said. “So we’ve got that experience. We’re hitting the ball much better offensively and our pitching staff has gotten better and developed. We absolutely have a chance of making the playoffs.”

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