Lady Tigers top seed
Playing the part of the ultimate road warriors, the Lady Tigers whipped Caldwell, not once, but twice to secure their first district title since 2007.
Rockdale traveled to Caldwell Friday and trimmed the Hornets 1-0 to gain a share of the league title and then turned around and bashed their neighbors again 9-3 in Franklin to earn the top seed in the state playoffs.
The Lady Tigers—who have won four straight and five of six— improved to 18-5 on the season and were 8-2 in District 18-3A play, tied with Caldwell (24- 9, 8-2) for the top spot.
With the victory, Rockdale earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Lady Tigers will face the winner between Huntington (3rd in 20-3A) and Fairfield (18-11, 2nd in 19-3A) in the area round next weekend.
Taylor (7-14, 6-4), which handed Rockdale one of its district defeats, is the third place team in district and will face West (23-6), the second place team in District 17-3A.
“I can not say it enough and can not stop talking about how proud I am of these girls,” said Rockdale Coach Amanda Keen, who has led the Lady Tigers to three playoff turns in her three years here. “We are coming together and rising to the occasion. Yes, we are getting hot again at the right time.
“We are building up and gearing up for what we hope is a long playoff run. We want to break though area and keep on going.”
In the seeding playoff game, the Lady Tigers powered their way to a 9-0 lead behind an array of hitting (team hit for the cycle)and Kayleigh Montelongo’s dominance on the mound.
And it was Montelongo, also the team’s leading hitter (.440), that finally broke through against Caldwell pitcher Casey Kauder (18-7) with a two-run home run in the third inning.
The Lady Hornets committed five errors behind Kauder.
Rockdale added four more in the fourth with the team cycle: a triple by Faith Talley, a double by Alyssa Wallis and a pair of singles by Montelongo and Maci Wages (2-for-3, RBI) to make it 6-0.
The Lady Tigers tacked on three more insurance runs in their final at bat in the bottom of the sixth, the big blow coming on Kayla Deary’s two-out, two-run double to left field to score Amanda Boyd (single) and Wallis (reached on an error) to make it 9-0.
Caldwell pounced on a fatigued Montelongo in the top of the seventh, punching out five singles to produce three runs.
Of the Lady Hornets nine hits on the evening, five came in the top of the seventh.
Montelongo (17-5) was untouchable in the first six innings and had racked up her seven strikeouts in the first four innings and at one point, fanned four straight.
In the district showdown at Hornet field Friday night, Montelongo’s double in the third inning scored Marissa Mireles (who had walked) with the game’s only run.
Montelongo mowed down the Lady Hornets, tying a career-high with 13 strikeouts and allowing only one hit.
“ Having these girls come together and pull off two big wins just tells you what kind of heart they have,” Keen said. “They are charged up after these two big wins and are getting hungry for playoffs.”
NOTES—The Lady Tigers have outscored their opponents 26-5 in the past four games... Rockdale captured its eighth district crown in 20 years of play... The Lady Tigers have gone to the playoffs five straight years and eight out of the last nine... In two decades of play, Rockdale has suffered just three losing seasons (2008, 2004, 2002)... The Lady Tigers are 311- 194 overall (77 percent).