By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

LOVELADY – After opening District 21-2A play with a W, the Lovelady Lady Lions had dropped two straight and were looking to get back to their winning ways on Tuesday, March 20 when they welcomed the Neches Lady Tigers to town.

It was not meant to be, however, as the Lady Tigers’ ace – Josey Sumpter – was in the pitcher’s circle for Neches and shutout the Lady Lions by a score of 6-0.

Makayla White was in the pitcher’s circle for Lovelady to open the game. She gave up back-to-back singles to Hannah Lovelady and Sheridan Andrews, but on Andrews’ base knock, Lovelady was called out for offensive interference.

Sumpter followed Andrews in the lineup, took a 1-0 pitch from White and deposited it over the left field fence for a two-run HR to stake Neches to an early 2-0 lead.

White shook off the homer to get Jayci Mannix and Lexi Rogers to end the inning.

When Sumpter walked into the circle, she was dominant. She struck out Jacy Stubblefield on a called third strike, got White to ground into a 4-3 force on one pitch and then mowed down Amber Mikes on three pitches to retire the side.

As the second inning got underway, White gave up a lead-off double to Gracey Carroll but then retired the next three batters she faced to close out Neches’ half of the frame.

Sumpter continued her command over the Lady Lions’ bats as she struck out Kaiden LeMaire on four pitches. Sarah Thompson, however, showed Sumpter was hittable when she lined a pitch into centerfield for Lovelady’s first hit of the game.

Thompson, unfortunately for the Lady Lions, was stranded at first after Sumpter struck out Erin Sample and Skye Watts to end the inning.

Neches tacked on a run in the top of the third when Mannix doubled in Sumpter to make the score 3-0. Things could have been a lot worse, but Neches ran themselves out of two potential runs with mistakes on the base paths.

The Lady Lions best chance to push a run across the plate came in the bottom of the inning. Heather Elliott led off with a double for Lovelady and Brittany Huester followed with a walk to give the Lions runners at first and second with no outs.

That was as far as they got. Sumpter forced Stubblefield to pop-up for out number one, struck out White and then coaxed Mikes to fly out to second.

After a quiet fourth inning, the Lady Tigers erupted for three runs in the top of the fifth to make the score 6-0 and effectively put the game out of reach.

Mikes came on in relief of White in the top of the sixth and shut down the Lady Tigers’ offense but with Sumpter still in the circle, the Lady Lions were never able to generate any offense of their own and fell to Neches by a final of 6-0.

White took the loss with five innings of work. She gave up six runs (four earned) on 12 hits. She also struck out two and walked two. Mikes pitched two innings of relief, gave up one hit and struck out two.

At the plate, Sarah Thompson led the way for the Lady Lions as she was 2-3.

Sumpter picked up the win for the Lady Tigers. She gave up five hits, didn’t allow a run, recorded 12 Ks and walked one in seven innings of work. She also led the way at the plate with a 2-4 performance, two RBI, one HR and three runs scored.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.