FRISCO — If it seems like Elizabeth Linwood only homers in big spots, there’s more than just a kernel of truth in that belief.
The junior outfielder has gone deep nine times this season, and they come in all varieties — relevant, walk-off, clutch — but there was none bigger than her latest.
“Great players show up in big times,” Denison head coach Jeremy Green said. “She’s done that all year for us.”
Linwood’s two-run blast to left field in the top of the seventh broke a tie with Frisco Centennial and proved to be the difference as the Lady Yellow Jackets earned a 6-5 win to sweep a Class 5A Region II bi-district series at Centennial on Friday night.
“In those situations I know ‘base hit’ but it has been home runs. When you step up to bat, you have to be selective,” Linwood said. “I actually thought I popped it up at first. As I got near first I looked and it was out. It feels really great.”
Denison (19-11) will face Dallas Sunset in an area round series at Prosper. Game 1 is at 7 p.m. on Friday with Games 2 and 3 at noon on Saturday.
The Lady Jackets advanced to the second round for the first time since 2006 and just the fifth time overall.
“They were ready for it. They were excited all day long,” Green said. “They are a very special group of kids. We’re going to enjoy this ride.”
For the second straight night Frisco Centennial (16-8) did not make it easy. The Lady Titans rallied from a 4-0 deficit after four innings and had the tying run on in the seventh.
Lexi Pope reached on an error to open the inning, moved up on a groundout and scored on Sierra Coburn’s two-out single to right to pull Centennial within a run. Ashlinn Hamilton got Guliette Arellanes to ground out to third to clinch the series win.
“They make great adjustments at the plate,” Green said. “We knew they had a lineup that could hit.”
Hamilton had led off the top of the seventh with a double into the right-field corner, a great start for Denison to re-take the lead. That’s when Linwood came through again with a high drive to left as a response to Centennial’s momentum-swinging sixth inning that tied the game at four.
The Lady Titans had four straight hits to open the frame — Tatum Wright doubled to left and Alex Byrd singled to right-center. Corbin had a two-run double into the right-field corner and the Lady Titans were down by a run.
Guliette Arellanes singled to deep right center and Centennial was even. After a sacrifice for the first out, Daniela Arellanes walked and Emilee Mayer laid down a sacrifice. Katie Walsh then flew out to left field.
Hamilton retired the first five batters she faced before walking Byrd and got the next three before Daniela Arellanes singled to left field with two outs in the third.
Her first bout of trouble came in the fourth when she walked Walsh and Wright around a strikeout. Byrd flew out to center and Hamilton induced an inning-ending groundout to second.
The Lady Titans finally got on the board in the fifth. Guliette Arellanes singled down the left-field line and was sacrificed to second. Gabriela Arellanes singled to right and Centennial had runners at the corners.
Mayer grounded out to short to drive in a run and cut Denison’s margin to 4-1. Walsh followed with a walk before Pope sharply grounded to short. Madison Carter didn’t field it cleanly but recovered in just enough time to get the force at third to end the inning.
The Lady Jackets were victimized by some great defense in the fourth. Jillian Barrett robbed Haley Earnhart with a diving grab in left and Linwood was about a foot short of a homer on a catch in deep center by Mayer.
Much like the Lady Titans did in Game 1, there was a pitching change in the second inning as Guliette Arellanes replaced Byrd after a one-out walk to Linwood with Centennial facing a three-run deficit.
She had started the opener, allowing a solo home run before Byrd replaced her and allowed seven runs in the second inning.
Denison immediately hit into a double play to end the inning before pushing a run across in the third. The Lady Jackets opened with a walk by Carter and Jewel Hiberd single to right center for runners at the corners.
Jaci Garvin laid down a safety squeeze and Carter got in ahead of the return throw to the plate as Denison held a 4-0 lead. Hiberd went all the way to third on the play but was stranded there.
Denison jumped in front four batters into the contest. Hamilton and Shayla Love walked around a strikeout. Carter then dunked an RBI single into left field as the Lady Jackets took a 1-0 lead.
Hiberd walked to load the bases and Garvin followed with a full-count free pass to force in a run and the line kept moving as Hannah Grinspan walked to make it a 3-0 advantage.
The Lady Jackets were unable to tack on anything else as Byrd regained her control with a strikeout and groundout to third to limit the damage.