The pitch hit off the mitt of the catcher and rolled halfway to the backstop. Addison Gurley of the Marucci Patriots NTX , standing on third as the winning run, didn’t even hesitate for a moment.
Gurley sprinted home, slid under the tag and scored to cap off a 2-1 walk-off victory for her club in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Patriots had been blanked all game by the strong pitching of the Texas Glory until finally breaking through in the final frame Sunday.
The excitement on the part of the Patriots, which had been building all inning, was palpable. The entire dugout raced out to greet Gurley after she slid across with the winning run.
“It was really fun,” a thrilled Gurley said after the game. “It brought up a lot of the hype and excitement we had all game.”
The easiest way to start a final-inning rally is to get the first batter of the inning on base. Enter Madison Lumpkin, who crushed the first pitch she saw deep into left field. The sound of the ball off the bat was as loud as loud as any hit heard at Allen Station Park Sunday morning.
The ball sailed over the left fielder’s head and up against the fence, and Saluja raced into second with a leadoff double. From there, the Patriots showed off their strong fundamentals at the plate.
Addison Gurley and Kailee James drew walks to load the bases, setting up yet another walk and pushing the tying run across home plate. By this point, not a single Patriot was sitting in the dugout. The energy was as palpable as it had been all game.
“It was a real energy booster,” Gisela Boitmann said. “We’re definitely going to bring it to the next game.”
The Patriots have found themselves in tight games on two separate occasions this weekend, but none as close as Sunday morning against the Glory. After stumbling to defeat Friday against Sneaky Cleats DWF, the Patriots went three for three on Saturday, capped off by a 6-0 blanking of Impact Gold DFW.
Asked about how his team approaches pitchers in late-inning situations, Patriots coach Shane Gurley matter-of-factly stated that he’d like to keep that information to himself before cracking a smile. Whatever the approach and methods were, they were certainly effective.
The Glory struck back and recorded two outs on a strikeout and a pop out, leading to the bases being loaded with two outs and the winning run on third. Gurley’s Patriots had battled, but a bases-loaded, two out situation with the winning run at third would present the biggest challenge they had seen so far.
The Patriots wouldn’t even need to swing the bat. Gurley broke for home as soon as the ball darted away from the catcher’s mitt and slid home just ahead of the tag. The comeback was complete.
“They bring it,” coach Shane Gurley said. “ They have fun. They enjoy it. That’s why we’re here.”
The Patriots path to the championship will go through Bombers Gold National Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals. The Bombers have been defeated twice this weekend but have already won two games Sunday to earn a shot at the Patriots.
If the sixth inning was any indication, the Patriots plan to be as aggressive as they were in encouraging Gurley to break for home.
“She got a good read on the ball bouncing away, the call was on and she took off,” Shane Gurley said. “Why not?”