Plano tops Weatherford, returns to elite eight

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Thursday’s Game 1 of the best-of-3 Class 5A regional semifinal softball series between Plano and Weatherford featured 24 strikeouts and seven hits in what would turn into a 1-0 Plano win.

Friday’s second game was a different story. Plano had nine hits -- two of which cleared the fence -- for a 6-2 win, sweeping the series at Allan Saxe Field at UT-Arlington.

After lightning in the area delayed the start of the game an hour, both teams hit the dirt running.

Weatherford struck in first in the bottom of the second, scoring a run on Alicia Rich's single to left.

Plano answered in the next half-inning, scoring twice. Two fielding errors by Weatherford pitcher Jordan Wallace put the first two Plano hitters of the inning on base. They were driven in on one swing of the bat, MacKenzie Velasquez's single to left.

Plano piled on more runs in the fifth when Katherine Batey hit a towering two-run homer over the left-field fence. Batey battled through an eight-pitch at-bat that included a foul ball that also cleared the left-field fence just to the left of the foul pole.

“It was just an inside pitch -- I don’t know if it was a screwball or fastball, and I personally love inside,” Batey said.

Plano added two more on a matching left-field homer from Jill Holub in the top of the seventh.

On the mound, Batey battled through an abnormal pregame routine but settled into the circle in the third inning. She allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out four through all seven innings.

Batey used the outside corner effectively and relied on a diving changeup as her strikeout pitch.

“We know that umpire and we’ve had him a lot and I know his strike zone so I think that gave me an advantage, but my outside pitch is one of my better pitches,” Batey said.

Despite having only two seniors on the squad this season, Plano launched itself into the elite eight for the second straight year.

“Everyone kind of wrote us off this year,” Plano coach Cynthia Zea said. “We only have one starting senior, so everyone thought we would be down for a year and come back and these kids never believed it.”

Plano will face either area rival Keller or El Paso Americas in the regional final round of the 5A state playoffs.

After the win, Zea didn’t dance around which team she preferred to play.

“To be honest with you, I want to see Keller again because they were our very first loss at Bryan-College Station," she said. "So we kind of want a piece of them again.”