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Burnet softball beats Smithville behind Crawford’s 200th strikeout of the season

CAPTION: Lead-off batter Journey Denton safely steals third base before she heads home during the Lady Dawgs’ 11-1 victory against Smithville. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

The Burnet High School softball team clobbered Smithville 11-1 May 4 in game one of the best-of-three area series of the Class 4A playoffs. The contest ended after five innings.

The Lady Dawgs (District 24-4A champions) will attempt to win the series when the two teams meet for game two at 6 p.m. Friday, May 5, at Dripping Springs High School.

Leading the way was sophomore pitcher Presely Crawford, who recorded her 200th strikeout this season during the win. Mackenzie Carpenter is the record holder with 246 set in 2015.

Crawford finished the May 4 contest with eight strikeouts in five innings.

“It’s all about spinning the ball and hitting spots,” she said. “I’m not trying for strikeouts, just outs.”

She commended her teammates for the 10-run win, noting leads like that do plenty for pitchers.

“It’s good to have a little cushion, and we’re good at putting runs on the board,” Crawford said.

The Lady Dawgs began scoring runs in the bottom of the third inning when McKenzie Davis drew a walk and stole second and third before going home on a wild pitch. Lexie Leatherwood hit a RBI single to center field for the 2-0 advantage.

The Lady Tigers scored their only run, which was unearned, in the top of the fourth inning where they stranded three.

Meanwhile, Burnet got that run back and more in its half of the inning.

Kenzye Raiford drew a lead-off walk and Journey Denton reached base on a fielding error. The two stole their bases then scored on a 2 RBI single by Kyleigh Mott. That’s when Smithville changed pitchers and the Lady Dawgs changed the score again for a 6-1 advantage.

Burnet has scored 11 runs in each of the last two playoff games. Head coach Hailey Wooten said the Lady Dawgs “haven’t done anything any differently” since the 1-0 win against Gatesville a week earlier.

“We have hitters who play all the time and are able to get it done,” she said. “They compete in the box. They know how much it means. They’re ready to get after it.”

Wooten noted her team is adjusting to a playoff schedule that differs from district play. During the regular season, games are played on Tuesdays and Fridays and the heaviest day of practice is Wednesday.

During the playoffs, the heaviest days of practice are Mondays and Tuesdays for series that have started on Thursdays.

“It’s long,” Wooten said of the week leading to game days. “It’s hot.”

That may explain why the Lady Dawgs stranded three in the first inning and needed time to find their groove.

“But once we got that one spark, we were good,” the coach said. “We trying to adjust to the playoff schedule.”

As happy as Crawford was about 200, she was thrilled the Lady Dawgs got the win.

“It’s really great,” she said. “This might be the only time we have this opportunity. We’re really trying to make the best of it and soak it all in.”

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