With a career record of 85-14, Dripping Springs senior Brandi Needham has established herself as one of most successful softball pitchers in Texas.
After pitching a three-hitter in Thursday’s 4-0 area playoff victory over Seguin, the Lady Tiger leadoff batter stroked four hits, showing the pop that has helped her earn a .498 batting average.
Dripping Springs (29-4-1) aims to sweep the Class 4A best-of-three series when the teams return to the Texas State diamond at 7 p.m. Friday.
Needham set the tempo by reaching on a bloop double to left in the first inning. Janice Burke and Kaitlynn Dugan drove in run in that two-run inning, all the offense Needham would on a cool, blustery night.
The University of Illinois signee complemented that hit by crushing a double to left in the second inning, ripping a triple over Seguin center-fielder Kaycee Govett’s outstretched glove in the fourth, and reaching base safely on an infield single in the sixth.
“Brandi puts as much work into her hitting as she does with her pitching,” Dripping Springs coach Keith Tuck said.
Needham said hitting helps her concentrate on the game, knowing she can help her own cause with a few hits.
“At first I felt like I was going to freeze out there,” said Needham, referring to a strong breeze that made the night feel colder than 48 degrees, the game-time temperature. “I felt better after I started pitching.”
Seguin (27-10-1) could have used someone to help first baseman Sidney Allen, who provided most of her team’s offense with a double and single off Needham.
Needham struck out eight and walked one while improving her record to 28-2. Ranked No. 2 in the state, the Lady Tigers improved their winning streak to 16 games.
Tuck said his team is just as good as the 2011 Lady Tigers who went to the 4A state championship.
“They hit more home runs than we’re doing now, but we’re hitting the ball really hard,” the coach said. “We’ve got a solid group of senior leadership.”
Dripping Springs freshman Amber Womack went 1 for 2 from the plate to keep her batting average at an even .500.
Needham extended her team’s leading to 3-0 with her run-scoring double in the second inning. The Lady Tigers closed the scoring when senior Kaitlynn Dugan drove in a run with a single in the third.
Other area results
Humble Atascocita 8, Round Rock 3: Atascocita (27-8) used a pair of three-run innings to take a one-game lead over Round Rock (26-7) in a best-of-three Class 5A series in Brenham. The series concludes Friday, with a doubleheader if needed.
Dragons pitcher Taylor Simmonds struck out six, but costly walks led to big innings for the Eagles. The Dragons left a handful of runners on base in the bottom of the first inning and sixth.
Iowa Park 1, Liberty Hill 0: Iowa Park scored only once, but made its second-inning run count in a victory over Liberty Hill, the first of their three-game Class 3A series being played in Glen Rose. Lynsey Mitchell went 2 for 3 in the Panthers’ (27-4) loss. Sam Junkin got the pitching loss, falling to 21-3 on the season. Game 2 will be played Friday, with a third game immediately following, if needed.