A loss is a loss, but the Calallen Lady Wildcats' setback Monday night against the Lady Coyotes was a moral victory.
Alice, one of the three teams in District 31-4A already close to solidifying a postseason bid, topped Calallen by 10 in their first meeting earlier this season.
The Lady Coyotes won again Monday, but it wasn't at all easy this time around. The Lady Wildcats trailed Alice by only one for part of the game until a last-inning two-RBI double gave the Lady Coyotes a 9-4 advantage and the win.
Afterwards, even Alice coach April Atterberry was complimentary of the Calallen girls.
"Oh, Calallen is a much better team than the first time we saw them," she said. "They're a typical Calallen teamů very good and they hit the ball well against us. If you can get up there and hit the ball like they did against us, then you're a pretty good team."
The loss drops Calallen in the district standings, but not out of the playoff hunt.
With Tuloso-Midway, Kingsville and Alice on top, the Lady Wildcats will be left to battle Flour Bluff for the fourth place spot.
"Realistically, we're going to be fighting the rest of the way against Flour Bluff for fourth place," Calallen coach Mike Brotherton said.
"Their record is better than ours right now, but we expect to be right there with them down the stretch."
The Lady Wildcats have Tuloso-Midway Thursday. They won't see Flour Bluff until April 13.
Calallen began the game by spotting Alice four runs in the first inning. Calallen scored two in the bottom of the second and two more in the fifth. Shelby O'Brian scored by stealing home and Kaley O'Brian later hit an RBI double.
"We starting to come around," Brotherton said. "We changed up a couple of things and used a different pitcher this time, and I think we just played better."
Amanda Tabor started for Calallen and was tagged with the loss.
"We played a lot better," Brotherton said. "We're playing a lot better. I mean, it's a heartbreaking loss for us, but the last time we played, they 10-run-ruled us."
Alice scored one more run in the fifth and two in the seventh.