Hays High softball coach Erin Wagner saw her team play with a different energy during the Hays Triangular on Thursday at Dusty Glassman Ball Park.
The end result was two one-run wins and a big confidence boost for the Indians.
Hays High earned a 4-3 victory over Sacred Heart in eight innings and then held off Thomas More Prep-Marian 2-1 behind a strong pitching performance from Jaysa Wichers.
”We just had intensity, heart and a desire to win today,” Wagner said. “We had a lot of girls diving for balls that we haven't had all season, and it's just the heart and desire to win. We have that fire back now."
After hitting a rough patch, Hays improved to 7-9 on the season.
"We were kind of on a losing streak there and I feel like this finally brought us back," Wichers said. "We've been working really hard in practice on our defense, pitching and on our hitting. I was really happy with what the team did."
Wichers gave up just five hits and struck out five without surrendering a walk against TMP.
"I was just really feeling it. I'm pretty sure we were all excited because it was TMP, hometown rival," Wichers said. "I was just feeling really confident in myself. I was excited."
Madelyn Waddell drove in both runs for the Indians with a bloop double to center field in the third inning.
With Hays leading 2-0, TMP threatened in the seventh inning, putting runners on third and second after a one-out ground rule double by Anna Gottschalk. However, Wichers induced a pair of groundouts to close it out.
"Jaysa was definitely feeling very confident today," Wagner said. "When I went out (in the seventh) I just told her to keep pitching her game and not try to overdo it, and that's what she did. She pitched a great game today. Pitched really well and battled the whole time."
In the first game, Hays earned a dramatic win after Macee Altman drove in the winning run on a double in the eighth inning. Kaitlyn Brown picked up the win in the circle for Hays.
TMP, now 12-4 on the season, opened the triangular with a dominant 13-0 win over Sacred Heart. Lexi Gottschalk had three hits in the win.
"In that one, we went up to the plate and were aggressive and making good contact," TMP coach Melissa Schoepf said.
But the Monarchs struggled to carry it into their second game, missing out on scoring opportunities early against Hays.
"We had base runners and we just didn't execute. That hurt us," Schoepf said. "We were giving outs and making base running mistakes. We got to be able to execute better. When we get baserunners on, we got to be able to execute at the plate and we got to be able to execute on the bases."
TMP's Bailey Lacy turned in another strong outing in the circle against Hays, allowing just two runs on two hits and striking out 13.