By Matt Goisman
KIOWA — The Kiowa Cowgirls probably expected another solid performance from senior pitching ace and leadoff hitter Madi Slawson.
Getting an equally solid performance from freshman nine-hole hitter Taylor Williams might’ve left the Cowgirls pleasantly surprised.
Slawson and Williams batted a combined 5-for-7 with three RBIs and three runs, leading the Cowgirls to a 6-5 win at home against the Coalgate Ladycats on Tuesday. The game wrapped the regular softball season for Kiowa, which will host a Class A district tournament Tuesday.
“If we play like that, we’ll be fine,” Kiowa coach Keith Quaid said. “For the most part we were pretty solid defensively, and we had some key hits, some big hits, timely hits. And then Madi pitched a really good ballgame, did a good job of keeping them off balance.”
The Williams-Slawson combo first struck in the bottom of the second. Kiowa had gotten its first two runners on via walks, but Coalgate catcher Kenzi Pebworth picked off Bless Roberts at third, then Bre Mitchell bunted foul with two strikes for the second out of the inning.
With Bailey Williams at third, Taylor Williams golfed a pitch from Ladycat starter Karley Shores into center field for an RBI. Slawson then doubled to left to score Taylor and make it 2-0 Cowgirls.
“She’s starting to hit the ball a lot better, and we’re really looking forward to her doing that, especially out of the nine-spot,” Quaid said of Taylor Williams. “Usually, you’re hoping they get on every now and then, but she’s been getting on quite frequently lately.”
Taylor Williams and Slawson struck again in the bottom of the fourth. After Bailey Williams led off the inning with a single and took second on a sacrifice bunt by Mitchell, Taylor singled to center to put runners at the corners.
“My second hit was right down the middle, and my first hit was outside,” Taylor Williams said.
Slawson drove in Bailey Williams with a double down the third base line to make it 3-0 Cowgirls. Both Taylor Williams and Slawson scored when a shot from Rylee Smith bounced off Coalgate right fielder Sara Shockey’s glove.
“My pitches were all over the place, inside, outside, middle,” Slawson said. “I think the first hit was inside, the second was outside, and I think one of them was middle. The last hit was probably a little too high, I shouldn’t have swung at it. But I saw a little bit of everything.”
Smith took second on the error and scored to make it 6-0 Cowgirls one batter later, when two Ladycat infielders collided tracking a pop fly from Alex Hackler.
Though Slawson dominated at the plate through the first five innings, spotty defense helped Coalgate get back in the game late. With two runners in scoring position and no outs in the top of the sixth, Tori Lampkin drove in one run with an RBI groundout, then another scored when third baseman Miranda Stiles’ throw to second sailed into the outfield.
In the top of the seventh, Coalgate got its first two on when left fielder Elizabeth Mitchell dropped a fly ball, then Stiles bobbled a grounder. Both Ladycats scored on a one-out double to left by Kendra Coslow, and Shelby Martindale then singled to right to score Coslow and cut Kiowa’s lead to 6-5.
Bent but refusing to break because of the unearned runs, Slawson got Lampkin to ground out to second for the second out of the seventh, then got Shockey to ground out to third to end the game.
“Close game, good game, but we just started a little too late,” Coalgate coach Kerwin Manion said.
“We finally got our intensity going. I think we came in flat, and it kind of starts in the circle. The pitcher started off slow, and when she starts off, everybody behind her gets flat, and it’s contagious.”
Slawson pitched all seven innings, giving up five runs — just one earned — on eight hits, no walks and six strikeouts. Slawson got Coalgate to hit into 14 groundouts or fielder’s choice plays, 11 of which began with Slawson or shortstop Bailey Williams fielding the grounder.
“She’s not a power pitcher,” Quaid said of Slawson. “She does well at placement and changing speeds and tries to keep people off-balance, and I thought she did a good job of that today. Coalgate, I don’t think they ever hit a ball really hard today, and that’s a good thing for us.”
With the win, Kiowa finished its season 16-13. Coalgate fell to 8-15.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com