Lewisville High School's "Year of the Girl" was capped off in the best way Wednesday night.
After Lions volleyball and girls' track and field squads won state championships, the softball team made it three girls' titles for the 2017-18 school year, beating East Clarendon 3-0 in a rain-harried second game of the 1A state championship series on May 16, 2018.
"We finally had our breakthrough," said Lewisville's Lauren Crocker, beaming a smile after shedding all the tears she contained in her face just minutes before.
There were numerous Lewisville softball alumni in a big crowd that surrounded the softball stadium at Lewisville, including many cars and trucks parked beyond the outfield fence. They came to see if the Lions could close out a first state title, after six straight seasons of reaching the Upper State tournament but never breaking through to the finals until last Friday.
"This isn't just for this group of girls," said Lewisville coach Jerry Thomas. "This is for every girl I've coached since I've been here. They all helped start this thing. We capitalized on it, but they started it."
Wednesday's game produced far less offense than Monday's game, which saw multiple home runs in Lewisville's 9-7 extra innings win. In Game Two, simply putting the ball in play allowed Crocker to produce the biggest offensive play of the season.
East Clarendon pitcher Marleigh Floyd struck out Crocker in the first game of the championship series with an inside pitch and Crocker knew she would come back with that same offering on Wednesday. Crocker got her bat on the ball, hitting it toward third base.
The ball was fielded cleanly but the throw to first sailed high and the Lions' base-runners sprinted around third and scored, Ashley Woods sliding past the catcher's tag for a 2-0 lead. Lexi Odum then knocked in Crocker with a ground ball in the next at-bat to make it 3-0.
"I knew I had to do it for my team," said Crocker. "I had nothing on my mind but them."
After Lewisville took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth, the Lions ran into trouble in the top of the sixth inning. East Clarendon leadoff hitter Elly Floyd singled through the left side of the infield, then stole second. A passed ball moved her to third base, and Gracen Watts drew a walk, before stealing second. After a brief timeout, Thomas walked Abby Reardon to load the bases with one out.
But Lewisville's star pitcher dug down deep, eliciting a pop-up from Olivia Singletary, before blowing a third strike past Kinsley Diggers' bat to end the visitors' threat and leave the Lions just three outs from the championship.
"They had an opportunity to blow it open, but she's done that a lot," Jerry Thomas said about his daughter, Chloe. "People get on and she doesn't care, it doesn't phase her. Defense gets in behind her and makes plays and we got out of that inning without giving up anything."
A downpour at 7 p.m. caused a brief stoppage of the game, about as long as it took a group of volunteers from the sidelines to run a tarp out on the field. Just as they finished, the rain did too and the game resumed shortly thereafter. There weren't any puddles, thanks to the impromptu grounds crew, but the field was wet and the softballs were very wet.
The moisture seemed to bother Floyd, who didn't pitch as well after the rainstorm as she switched the ball with a dry one from the dugout after almost every pitch. And it was East Clarendon that made the crucial errors post-rainstorm, and not Lewisville, whose third baseman and multi-sport star, Amber Bass, christened 2017-18 "The Year of the Girl" at the school.
"It was a pressure game already and to have the rain and the weather that we did have it just added more pressure," said Crocker. "It was kind of the team that stayed stronger."
Thomas struck out six batters, including the final two. Odum had an infield single and an RBI in an offensively-starved contest.