Playing behind a rock-solid defense, Clear Falls freshman pitcher Payton Bean excelled in the circle and the Knights’ bats came through when needed in a 10-1 run-rule win at home over the Friendswood Lady Mustangs on Tuesday.
That all-around teamwork is the cornerstone of this season’s Knights squad, head coach Kimberly Partin said when discussing her roster.
“We’re calling ourselves ‘The Lucky 13,’” Partin said. “We’ve got a very small group, but they’re very tight-knit, and they depend on each other and trust each other and fight for each other with each other.”
Knights right fielder and leadoff hitter Chelsi Olvera (3-for-3, three runs, two RBIs) had a game to remember, reaching base in all four plate appearances — including a walk-off two-run triple smashed to right field in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Also collecting multiple hits were shortstop Erica Riley (2-for-2, two RBIs) and center fielder Katie Hoke (2-for-3, one run). Designated player Baylee Freudenberg and left fielder Juli Niedermaier each had two RBIs.
Friendswood scored a run on a throwing error in the top of the first, but after that, it was all Clear Falls.
Freudenberg drove in Olvera (leadoff walk) on a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the first. Three Lady Mustangs errors helped Clear Falls have a three-run bottom of the second, with Riley dropping an RBI bloop single into right field, as well.
Clear Falls broke the game open with a four-run bottom of the fourth inning. The Knights loaded the bases on a two-base throwing error and a pair of singles from Olvera and Hoke. Then, runs came home on a sac fly to center from Riley, an RBI infield single by Freudenberg and a two-run double laced down the left field line by Niedermaier.
Back-to-back walks drawn by Bean and catcher Alex Bradford set up Olvera’s walk-off hit in the bottom of the fifth.
The Lady Mustangs had opportunities to plate runs (stranding six runners, in total), but Bean was able to escape the jams unscathed. Bean finished with 10 strikeouts, two walks, five hits and one unearned run in her outing.
“Payton threw a great game, did a great job, and in her moments against some huge Friendswood hitters where she could’ve gotten flustered or thrown off her game, she had her sisters behind her telling her, ‘Girl, you’ve got this. We’ve got your back.’”
Shortstop and leadoff hitter Trisha Yarotsky led Friendswood, going 2-for-3 and scoring the Lady Mustangs’ lone run.
Both teams return to action 6:30 p.m. Friday. Clear Falls (2-0 in District 24-6A) will be at Clear Lake (0-2), and Friendswood (1-1) hosts Clear Brook (0-2).