Grapeland 10-run Rules Slocum, 12-0

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

SLOCUM – It’s hard to believe – especially with basketball season not even over for a week – but the Grapeland Sandiettes opened district play in softball on Tuesday evening.

This wasn’t your normal district opener, however. Grapeland traveled to Slocum to take on the two-time defending UIL Class 1A State Champion Lady Mustangs. While graduation hurt Slocum, the Lady Mustangs returned four All-State players from their 2018 state championship team.

The Sandiettes, on the other hand, were just a step away from a trip to Austin and returned two All-State players themselves. Given the pedigrees of both teams, an intense rivalry on the softball field and seeing the Lady Mustangs move from Class 1A to Class 2A, one would expect a competitive game.

That was not the case on Tuesday, March 5, however, as the Sandiettes trampled the Lady Mustangs on the brisk, late winter’s day by a final score of 12-0.

Slocum sent All-State pitcher Jalyn Fletcher to the circle to face a Grapeland lineup that can go yard at any time or play a game of small ball. Tuesday’s game saw the Sandiettes opt for the latter as they posted three runs off of Fletcher in the first inning.

Kiera DeCluette led off with a single past short and promptly stole second and third. Diamond Dunn laid down a bunt to bring DeCluette across the plate with the game’s first run.

Dunn also stole second and third and then came home on a Cheney Boyd double to right field. Boyd stole third and then scored on a Cierra Simon groundout to make the score 3-0.

Fletcher settled down after that and managed to get out of the inning without any further damage.

The Sandiettes countered with their own All-State pitcher as Grapeland sent Cadie Belle Currie to the circle. In a word, she was dominant. Currie struck out Fletcher, forced Courtney January to pop-up to third and then coaxed a pop-up to first from Laney Lasiter.

The second inning saw Fletcher regain her form as she struck out the side. After Dunn singled into left, Fletcher caught KeKe Harris swinging at a pitch outside of the strike zone. DeCluette was next up and she watched as Fletcher painted the edge with strike three. She followed that up with a three-pitch strikeout of Dunn to close out the top of the second.

Currie was just as effective. She got Jordyn Kidd to ground out to second, caught Taylor Williams staring at strike three and then blew one by Sara Easley to retire the side.

It looked as if the game was settling into a pitcher’s duel after the second inning. When Fletcher returned to the circle, she continued to show why she was selected as the MVP of the state tournament in both 2017 and 2018.

She forced Boyd to ground out to third, gave up a single to Simon and then coaxed groundouts from Currie, along with Madi McCombs, to retire the Sandiettes in the third.

The bottom of the third inning saw Currie work her way into and out of trouble. The hard-throwing lefty struck out Marlee Lasiter and Madison Hall to open the inning but allowed Jaidan Wickersham to reach on an error.

Fletcher moved Wickersham to second on a fly ball just out of the reach of left fielder Haylee Reed. January hit a shot past third base to juice the sacks with two outs but Lasiter fanned to end the inning and take Currie off the hook as the score remained 3-0.

After a quiet fourth inning, the Sandiettes exploded for nine runs in the top of the fifth. DeCluette led off with a bunt single and after stealing second, she came home to make the score 4-0 on a Dunn shot to the outfield.

Dunn took third on the throw home and scored when Boyd grounded into a 5-3 force to push the lead out to 5-0.

Simon was up next and hit a rope into right field for a single. Currie followed Simon to the dish and moved her to second with a grounder to left. Paige Mullen came in as a courtesy runner for Currie and shortly afterwards, an error on the Lady Mustangs sent Simon scurrying around the base paths and across home plate to make the score 6-0.

Mullen moved to third on the play and scored on a Madi McCombs single. McCombs scored from first on a passed ball and an error to make the score 8-0.

After a groundout from Makayla McCombs, Reed delivered a single past third and then stole second. The second Slocum error of the inning allowed Reed to come around with the sixth run of the inning which was followed by the third error which allowed Harris to reach first.

A double from DeCluette brought Harris home and after DeCluette stole third, an error pushed her across the plate to make the score 11-0. Dunn followed with a single and a steal of second. Boyd followed her to the plate and slapped a double into the gap to plate Dunn.

On the play, however, Boyd was thrown out on the base paths to retire the side but the damage was done as Grapeland led by a score of 12-0.

Currie managed to work out of a jam in the bottom of the inning as a play at the plate kept the shutout intact. She followed that up with a strike out to end the game and give the Sandiettes the district win by a final score of 12-0.

Fletcher took the loss in five innings of work. She gave up 15 hits, 12 runs (seven earned) and recorded five Ks with no walks.

Currie took the shutout win with five innings pitched and allowed only five hits. She struck out 10 and didn’t walk anyone.

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