By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

LATEXO – With two of the best pitchers around in the circle, the game between the Latexo Lady Tigers and the Neches Lady Tigers was expected to be a close, low-scoring affair. After all, the last time these two met Latexo got the better of Neches by a score of 1-0.

This time around, however, things were a little different as the game was a nip and tuck affair until the top of the seventh inning when Neches scored three runs to take an 8-5 lead and hold on for the win.

Neches jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after Hannah Lovelady led off with a double to center and came around to score on a Josie Sumpter grounder.

Latexo fought back and took the lead in the bottom of the second. Raelyn Walker led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on Bailey Ingle’s single into right field. An error on the throw from the outfield allowed Walker to round third and score to tie the game at one.

Ingle advanced to third on the same play and when Sumpter uncorked a wild pitch, Ingle scampered home with the go ahead run.

After recording two quick outs in the top of the third, Latexo pitcher Gracie Zalesky gave up a single to Lovelady who came around to score on a Sumpter double.

Neches added two more runs to make the score 4-2 but Latexo fought back yet again. In the bottom of the third, Makayla Gunnels drew a two out walk and advanced to third on Zalesky’s double into the gap. A passed ball allowed Gunnels to take home and make the score 4-3 after three complete.

Things got a little crazy in the top of the fourth when Lovelady managed to pull off an inside the park homer. She hit a liner into right that skipped by the right fielder and took an odd bounce. Lovelady turned on the jets and flew around the base paths to cross home, just ahead of the throw to make the score 5-3.

Once again, the Lady Tigers from Latexo fought back. Diana Maza led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to right. She stole second and moved to third on a throw down to first on a dropped strike three.

Gunnels was up next and hit a chopper to first which gave Maza enough time to slide home safely and cut the lead to 5-4.

The score remained that way until the bottom of the sixth. Walker led off the Latexo at-bat with a walk and then moved to second on an error which allowed Ingle to safely reach first. A walk to Harli Brent loaded the bases.

A groundout caught Walker trying to score, but Sumpter’s wildness allowed the tying run to cross the dish when she unloosed a pitch her catcher couldn’t handle allowing Ingle to trot home and tie the score at five.

Latexo, unfortunately, was unable to capitalize on the bases loaded situation and the score remained knotted at five as the game headed into the seventh inning.

Neches plated three in the seventh and then Sumpter shut down the Latexo batting order in the bottom of the inning to give the Lady Tigers from Neches an 8-5 win.

Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at