Grapeland Defeats Slocum, 9-4

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

SLOCUM – The Grapeland Sandiettes strolled into Slocum on Saturday afternoon, April 14 for a tilt with the Slocum Lady Mustangs. At stake, was first place in District 21-AA. Win – and the Sandiettes would effectively clinch the outright district championship. Lose – and the Lady Mustangs and Sandiettes would be tied atop of the standings, with two games remaining.

Throughout the first six innings, the game was a toss-up. A four-run seventh inning, however, propelled the Grapeland Sandiettes to the win and their second consecutive District 21-AA Championship.

Squaring off in the pitcher’s circle were Slocum’s Jalyn Fletcher and Grapeland’s Cadie Belle Currie, two of the area’s best pitchers.

Fletcher opened the game against the Sandiettes and had a quick inning. She caught Cierra Simon swinging at a strike three and then gave up a single to Kiera DeCluette.

Cheney Boyd came to the plate with the intention of moving DeCluette around the bases, but on the ninth pitch of her at-bat she hit a frozen rope to Taylor Clark at third. Clark caught the ball in mid-flight and threw to first to double-up DeCluette, who had strayed a little far off the base.

Currie also had a relatively easy first inning. She struck out Fletcher on four pitches and then got Courtney January to foul out. Jessi Ives was up next and grounded back to Currie in the circle. Currie corralled the ball and threw to Hannah Chipman at first to send the game into the second inning.

In the second, Fletcher was just as tough as she was in the first. She struck out Chipman and then gave up a single to Currie. Christy Shepherd came in as a courtesy runner but was stranded at first after Madi McCombs struck out and KeKe Harris grounded into a 5-3 force.

When the Sandiettes took the field in the second, it was their stout defense that kept Slocum off the board. Clark was up first and lined back to the pitcher’s circle for the first out.

Briley Evers was the next batter and singled to left. Kara Cumby followed Evers to the plate and laid down a sacrifice which advanced Evers to second.

With two outs and a runner at second, Shelby Bowman came to the plate and slapped a shot towards deep short. Simon ranged to her right, managed to field the ball and kept Evers from going anywhere.

After Simon’s defensive gem, Currie coaxed a groundout from Bella McNeill to end the second inning with the score still tied, 0-0.

The Sandiettes broke into the scoring column the next time they came to bat. Diamond Dunn led off the third with a groundout, but Haylee Reed reached safely on an infield single.

Simon was up next and hit into a fielder’s choice, but Reed beat the throw at second and moved to third when the ball was mishandled. On the same play, Simon took second to give the Sandiettes runners in scoring position with only one out.

While Grapeland couldn’t push across both runs, they did get one. DeCluette hit a shot to third that allowed Reed to cross the plate, however, Simon was called out at third when she tried to advance. A Boyd groundout ended the Sandiette threat and brought the Lady Mustangs to the plate.

When they came in from the field, Slocum sent a reminder to Grapeland that the Lady Mustangs were still the defending Class 1A State Champs as they plated three runs to take a 3-1 lead.

Laney Lasiter led off the bottom of the third with a single up the middle. Fletcher was up after Lasiter and singled to right. Laister took third on the throw, while Fletcher took second.

A bunt single loaded the bases for the Lady Mustangs, with the heart of their order coming up. Ives struck out, however, while Clark hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Lasiter from third.

A wild pitch from Currie to Evers brought Fletcher across the plate, sent January to third and gave Slocum a 2-1 lead. Evers added to the Lady Mustangs scoring when she singled to center to drive in January which made the score 3-1.

Cumby kept the inning alive with a two-out single to move Evers to second. After a four pitch walk to Bowman, Currie managed to regain her composure and got McNeill to fly out to center to end the inning, only down by two.

The Sandiettes tied things up when they came to bat in the top of the fourth. Chipman led off with walk and then stole second. She moved to third on Currie’s groundout and scored when McCombs hit into a 6-3 force.

Harris followed in the order and slapped a double into center.  She showed off her speed on the base paths two pitches later when she swiped third and then trotted home on a throwing error to tie the game at three.

The back-and-forth continued as the Lady Mustangs re-took the lead when they came to bat in bottom of the fourth. Lasiter led-off with a single, took second on a Fletcher groundout and moved to third on a January groundout.  She eventually came around to score when Ives connected on an infield single.

Not surprisingly, the Sandiettes knotted things up when they came to bat in the fifth. Fletcher struck out Reed on three straight pitches, but then gave up a single to Simon.  Simon stole second and moved to third when DeCluette grounded out.

With two outs, Boyd came to the plate and ripped a pitch down the line at third. The ball was mishandled and gave Simon just enough time to score while Boyd reached first safely.

That was all the Sandiettes could muster, but as the game headed into the bottom of the fifth, the score was tied again at four.

Currie appeared to have shaken off the previous two innings when she went back to the pitcher’s circle. She retired Evers, Cumby and Bowman with three consecutive groundouts to end the fifth.

When the Sandiettes came to bat, Currie led off with a double to left. Shepherd came into run for Currie and took third on a McCombs single. One pitch later, Shepherd gave Grapeland the lead after she crossed home plate when Harris singled to center.

After the Shepherd score, Fletcher managed to regroup and got both McCombs along Cayden LeBlanc to ground out to end the top of the sixth inning.

It looked as if the Lady Mustangs might tie things up again in the bottom of the inning. McNeill singled to lead off the Slocum at-bat. A pop up from Lasiter kept McNeill at first, but a single from Fletcher advanced her to second.

January popped up for the second out and then Currie got Ives to fly out to third to end the threat and send the game into the final inning with Grapeland ahead, 5-4.

The Sandiettes gave Currie a bit of a cushion when they came to bat in the top of the seventh. Simon led off with a double and took third on the throw in from the outfield. DeCluette was hit by a pitch and took first.

Boyd was up next and delivered for the Sandiettes as she laced a double to center to drive in Simon and DeCluette.

Chipman sacrificed Boyd to third and was she followed by an infield hit from Currie. Shepherd came in to run for Currie and promptly stole second.

She wasn’t there long as McCombs came through with a worm-burner to right which allowed both Boyd and Shepherd to scamper home and make the score 9-4.

Fletcher was able to get out of the inning without any further damage but when the Lady Mustangs came to bat in the bottom of the seventh, they didn’t have a response to the earlier Grapeland onslaught and fell by a final score of 9-4.

Currie picked up the win with seven innings of work. She gave up four runs (two earned) on 11 hits. She struck out two and walked two.

Fletcher took the loss in seven innings. She gave up nine runs (seven earned) on 12 hits, struck out six and walked one.

The Sandiettes were led at the plate by Simon who was 2-4, with two runs scored; DeCluette went 2-3 with one RBI and one run scored; and McCombs was 1-4 with three RBI.

The Lady Mustangs were led by Laney Lasiter who was 2-3 with two runs scored and Briley Evers who was 2-3 with a walk.

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