ABILENE - The Coronado softball team knew exactly what to expect from Plano in Game 1 of its best-of-three Region I-5A semifinal series Friday night at Wells Field.
Lady Mustangs coach J.J. Johnson and his team knew that if it played clinical defense, pitched well, and came up with a few timely hits, they just might emerge with the program's first series victory in the regional semis.
Coronado got it all except for the timely hits in an eight-inning, 2-1 loss to the Lady Wildcats. Despite scoring first, the Lady Mustangs couldn't get the hits when they needed them.
"When you get this far in the playoffs, that's the way this game is supposed to be played," Johnson said of the nearly error-free, mistake-free ball game. "They're well coached, played the game the way it's supposed to be played, intense. It was just a game of inches. We got 10 hits, we just couldn't get them at the right time."
After failing to score with two on and one out in the seventh and then going down in order the following inning, Plano loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth.
Third baseman Katherine Batey, who drove in Plano's first run in the bottom of the sixth, came up and hit a soft liner up the middle, just out of reach of a diving Ciarra Galindo to score the game-winning run.
Neither team looked willing to blink in the early going. Coronado starter Meagan Navarrette and Plano starter Abbi Frakes kept the game scoreless through five innings.
"We just didn't get the right hit at the right time," said Coronado catcher Megan Granado, who went 3 for 4 with three singles. "We played good defense. We just need to come out focused and ready to play tomorrow, and have some heart."
Johnson, who has been with the program for all of its 15 seasons, said Coronado has never come back to win a playoff series after losing Game 1. It will look to change that fact at 2 p.m. today in Game 2.
The Lady Mustangs (29-6-1) are playing in their fourth regional semifinal but have never managed to get into the finals. Plano (25-11), which finished in third place in District 8-5A, had never been past the area round before this season.
Coronado third baseman Tori Ruiz hit an RBI single in the top of the sixth to put the Lady Mustangs up 1-0, and with the way Navarrette was throwing, the one-run advantage looked like it would be enough.
But the lead didn't last long. In the bottom half of the sixth, Plano's Vonnie Martin, a Fresno State signee who entered the game hitting .351, smacked a one-out single to left and advanced to second on a groundout. Batey came up and hit a two-out RBI single to left-center field, tying the game.
"You just come back and try to do the same thing tomorrow," Johnson said. "We'll just hopefully get a hit at the right time. I thought everybody battled hard, and we kept their speed off the bases for the most part."
Navarrette (22-5) was back in top form with a complete game effort. She allowed 10 hits and three walks. Frakes was just a little bit better, allowing 10 hits and two walks.
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REGION 1-5A SEMIFINAL SERIES
at Wells Field, Abilene
PLANO 2, CORONADO 1
Coronado 000 001 00 - 1 9 1
Plano 000 001 01 - 2 10 1
Navarrette and Granado; Frakes and Hart. W - Frakes. L - Navarrette (24-5). Records: Coronado 29-6-1, Plano 25-11
Wildcats pull out victory in eighth inning of series opener