WILLIS — It did not take long for Willis to show it belonged in the Class 6A playoffs.
The Ladykats ran away with a 20-0 five-inning win over Aldine MacArthur on Thursday at Shelly Field to kick off the postseason.
The Region II-6A bi-district win — Willis’ first in the postseason as a 6A program — sends the Ladykats (17-11) to the area round for the fifth time in the last six years. They’ll face the winner of the series between Cypress Woods and Klein Oak next week.
“Overall, it’s just super exciting,” coach Lyndsey Lipscomb said. “First year being in 6A, making it to the playoffs was huge. Getting this first win was even bigger. We talk about the little things all the time — being a good teammate, being up in the dugout, offensively, defensively — I think they did all of that tonight.”
After both teams stranded a runner in the first inning, Willis took control in the second with nine runs.
The scoring began with a bases-clearing hit to center field from Cynthia Moreno. The next batter, Kaleyana Bankhead, hit a home run to left field to make it 5-0.
An infield blooper from Kyndal Murphy brought Lindsey Hues and Laney Niederhofer home to increase the lead to 7-0.
Marissa Fletcher scored on a hit from Lana Barnes, then Murphy scored before the final out, a tag at third, ended the inning.
“We’ve been kind of slow here and there getting our bats going, but I knew it was only a matter of time, then we started crushing the ball,” Lipscomb said. “I thought that MacArthur made a lot of really good plays when we did put the ball in play, so hats off to them on that. They did a really good job.”
The nine runs were more than enough for Fletcher in the circle. In three innings, the senior allowed one hit and one walk while striking out eight.
“Felt pretty good,” Fletcher said. “It really boosts my confidence going further into the playoffs.”
Freshman Kynlei Chapman finished the game in the circle. She struck out four, walked one, and gained valuable postseason experience with a couple innings of action.
“6A, making it to the playoffs, there’s going to be a lot of jitters from everybody,” Lipscomb said. “We were able to get everyone in the game tonight in some form or fashion, so that was huge and I’m glad we did that. Now we’ve got to go to work.”
After RBI hits from Niederhofer and Fletcher in the third inning, Willis put nine more across home plate in the bottom of the fourth. The parade of runs was highlighted by a three-run home run from Fletcher.
MacArthur (10-11) got its lone hit of the night, a single, from starting pitcher Brianna Castaneda.
The 20 runs scored left the Ladykats one shy of their season high of 21 scored in a non-district rout of Lamar in March. It’s the widest margin of victory for Willis this season and was well higher than the 7.5 runs per game it averaged during District 13-6A play.
“We’re going to keep working on hitting,” Fletcher said. “We do go through little ups and downs but hopefully we can keep our bats strong.”