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Longhorns persevere, break out of Cimarron jinx

Legacy softball coach Dan Casel swore his team was due for some good luck against Cimarron-Memorial.

The Longhorns had lost six of their seven previous meetings against the Spartans, many of them because of bad breaks or costly mistakes.

And just when another game seem destined to slip away Thursday, the host Longhorns found a way to break the jinx.

After surrendering a game-tying inside-the-park home run in the top of the seventh inning, Legacy took advantage of a throwing error on Kaila Haslem’s sacrifice bunt with no outs in the bottom of the eighth to pull out a 5-4 win and move closer to securing a postseason berth.

“We were due for something good,” Casel said. “It seems like every time we play them, something goes wrong late in the game. We put a lot of emphasis on this game. I just wanted them to come out and play hard and go 100 percent, and that’s what they did.”

Anastasia Fuller led off the bottom of the eighth with a double to left-center.

Haslem laid down a bunt on the next pitch, deadening the ball about 10 feet from home plate on the first-base side.

The Spartans’ throw to first got away, rolling into short right field, and Fuller never hesitated, rounding third and swiping the plate with her left hand on a good slide to avoid a potential tag by Cimarron catcher Rheanna Esparza.

“Kaila is a really good bunter,” Casel said. “That was a great bunt. It just died. We just took a chance. Anastasia is pretty fast, and she got a good jump on the ball.”

The Longhorns (13-8, 3-5 Southwest) built a 4-2 lead entering the sixth, but Cimarron fought its way back to tie the game. Rosie Del Rosario scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the sixth, and Sarah Murphy led off the seventh with a home run to center field.

“I was worried after that,” Casel said. “But we had just talked at practice (Wednesday) about not getting down. I call it no pouty faces. If something goes wrong, shake it off and come back and play hard.”

Cimarron (14-13, 4-4) threatened to take the lead in the eighth when Del Rosario stroked a one-out double to right-center and moved to third on a wild pitch, but Nelson got a groundout and a strikeout to end the threat.

Nelson allowed nine hits but didn’t walk a batter. She struck out six.

Lindsey Fishman was 2-for-3 with an RBI for Legacy, which leads Desert Oasis by one game for the Southwest’s playoff spot. Legacy would clinch the spot with a win against the Diamondbacks next week or a win and a Desert Oasis loss on the final day of league play.

The Longhorns still could finish as high as third in the league.

“I’m just really proud of our girls,” Casel said. “We just work hard and try to do the best with what we’ve got.”

Murphy was 3-for-4 with the home run and a double, and Kianna Baquiran went 2-for-3 with a triple for Cimarron, which got a 2-for-4 effort from Del Rosario.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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