Peyton Blythe’s Double in Eighth Sends Hughes Springs to State Title Game
AUSTIN — In just a few months, they’ll be college teammates at Texas Tech. On Wednesday, the stakes couldn’t be higher as Grandview pitcher Brooke Blackwell faced Hughes Springs’ Peyton Blythe with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning.
Blythe cleared the bases with a double into the gap, lifting Hughes Springs to a 5-2 come-from-behind win over Grandview win in their Class 3A softball state semifinal at Red & Charline McCombs Field.
The Lady Mustangs (30-3) advanced to their first-ever state title game, and will oppose either Brock or Santa Gertrudis Academy at 6 p.m. Thursday for the championship.
“It’s an amazing feeling because we made history,” said Blythe, who was 3-for-4 on the day. “We have never been this far, and we’re gonna try to make history again tomorrow.”
Blackwell walked Abbye McKinney to begin the top of the eighth, and Kylee Flores came on in relief. After a sacrifice bunt, Flores issued back-to-back walks. Blackwell, who was up to 137 pitches, re-entered the circle and Charlie Reeves then hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Brooke Prewitt, who fired home to get the force out.
That set the stage for Blythe.
“I went up there with confidence because I believe in myself, I believe in my team,” Blythe said. “I just went up there relaxed, no need to stress. The feeling was just insane.”
Blythe struck out in her first at-bat against her future teammate, but followed with two singles, a walk, and the eventual game-winning double.
“My first at-bat I was a little nervous,” Blythe said. “But after that I was relaxed, had confidence in myself and it paid off. We’re going to the state championship.”
Marisol Kennedy (14-1) pitched all eight innings for Hughes Springs. She allowed just one earned run on four hits with one strikeout and three walks.
“She did what we asked her to do, work ahead, mix her speeds, and let the defense play,” Hughes Springs coach Tisha Thompson said of Kennedy. “And that’s what she did. She stuck to that the whole game.”
Hughes Springs trailed 2-0 after six innings, and it was last week’s offensive hero — Pearl Perry — who got the Lady Mustangs on the board with a leadoff home run in the seventh. She homered and have five RBI’s in Hughes Springs’ regional championship victory over New Boston.
“Little, wiry seven-hole hitter,” Thompson said of Perry. “You can’t ask for a better kid to be there, she’s never gonna give up. She did exactly what she needed to do. Not that I want her to hit a home run every time but if she wants to get things going with a home run I’ll let her.”
Hughes Springs tied the game in most unusual fashion.
With runners at the corners and one out, Haylee Wilson hit a soft popup to Grandview first baseman Kami Flores, who dropped the ball. The infield fly rule was in effect, and instead of staying on third base, Reeves came home to tie it up.
“No matter what this team always stays up, we never get down,” Blythe said. “We’ve always been taught that no matter what the scoreboard looks like we’re gonna give it our all.”
Blackwell, who allowed three runs on nine hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in 7 2/3 innings, blanked Hughes Springs through six innings despite the Lady Mustangs recording six hits.
“I think we fell out of our game plan a little bit early,” Thompson said. “We weren’t sticking to hitting our pitches, we were chasing a lot of stuff. Finally when we settled down a little bit that’s when things started working for us.”
Grandview scored runs in the first and second inning to strike first. Katie Roberts had an RBI groundout in the first, and Kami Flores scored on an error in the second.
But the sluggish start didn’t faze Hughes Springs, which was eliminated in the semifinals last season.
“This group has been playing together since they were knee-high to a grasshopper,” Thompson said. “We made it here last year and it was an overwhelming experience for us. This year when we walked in it literally was like just coming to play another softball game. We knew what to expect, we knew how things are run here, and you can’t replace experience.”
Hughes Springs 5, Grandview 2 (8 innings)
Class 3A State Semifinal
At Red & Charline McCombs Field, Austin
Hughes Springs 000 000 23 — 5 9 2
Grandview 110 000 00 — 2 4 0
Pitchers and catchers
- Hughes Springs: Marisol Kennedy and Kennedi Northam.
- Grandview: Brooke Blackwell, Kylee Flores (8), Blackwell (8) and Katie Roberts.
WP -- Kennedy (14-1).
LP -- Flores (12-1).
- Hughes Springs: Peyton Blythe.
- Hughes Springs: Pearl Perry (seventh inning, solo).