Sandoval Dominates from the Circle
By Will Johnson
LOVELADY – The Slocum Lady Mustangs hit the road on Tuesday, March 19 for a softball game against the Lovelady Lady Lions. The Lady Mustangs were looking to get back to their state championship form while the Lady Lions were out to show their fans the rebuilding process was over and the Lady Lions time is now.
It turned out to be a low-scoring affair as both Slocum’s Jalyn Fletcher and Lovelady’s Mimi Sandoval kept batters handcuffed throughout the contest. The Lady Lions, however, were a little bit better at the plate and managed to scratch out a 3-1 win.
Sandoval was red-hot as she opened the game in the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Lions. She struck out Fletcher on four pitches, caught Courtney January looking at strike three and then retired Laney Lasiter on a three-pitch K.
Fletcher was in the circle for Slocum and she was just as effective as Sandoval in the early innings. In the first, she struck out Jacy Stubblefield, got Makayla White to pop out to third, walked Linda Martinez and then forced a pop up from Sandoval to retire the side.
Sandoval continued her dominance as the second inning began. She got Jaidan Wickersham to watch strike three go by, issued a walk Sara Easley and then struck out Madison Hall along with Jordyn Kidd to end the top of inning.
The Lady Mustangs’ Fletcher kept pace with Sandoval in the bottom of the second. She gave up a lead-off single to Erin Sample but then retired Amber Mikes, Rylee Biedrzycki and Sarah Thompson to move the game into the third.
In the third, the Lady Mustangs picked up their first hit as Fletcher laced a pitch down the third base line following strikeouts of Marlee Lasiter and T. Williams. That was as far as Fletcher would get, however, as Sandoval struck out January for the second time in the game.
The Lady Lions threatened to score in the third, but Fletcher had different plans. Bailee Albinus led off with a liner into left but was gunned down trying to steal second base. Stubblefield followed with a bunt single and stole second on a 1-2 pitch. White moved her to third with a sacrifice fly to center, but she was left stranded when Sandoval grounded out to third base to end the inning.
As the fourth inning began, Sandoval remained in control of the game. She got Lasiter to fly out to right, struck out Wickersham, walked Easley and then struck out Hall to end the Slocum half of the fourth.
Lovelady finally managed to break the scoring drought in their half of the inning. Sample grounded out to third, but Mikes followed with a single up the middle. Mikes moved to second when Biedrzycki hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but came around to score when Thompson slapped a shot past short to make the score 1-0.
Fletcher regrouped, however, and struck out Albinus to bring the Lady Mustangs up to bat in the fifth. It was Sandoval’s night, however, as she retired the side in order to move the game into the bottom of the inning.
Fletcher retired the first two batters she faced but then Martinez roped a single into center. Sandoval was up next and on a 1-0 pitch, she managed to turn on the ball and went yard for a two-run blast to make the score 3-0.
Sample followed with her second hit of the game, but Mikes grounded to second to end the inning with Lovelady now up by three.
The Lady Mustangs sliced a run off of the lead when they came to bat in the top of the sixth. Fletcher led off with a line drive out but January followed with a single to center and took second when the ball was misplayed.
Lasiter followed with a double to drive in January and make the score 3-1, but she was stranded at second after Wickersham lined out to third and Easley was caught looking at strike three.
That was as close as the Lady Mustangs would get, however, as Sandoval struck out the side in the top of the seventh to end the game and give the Lady Lions a 3-1, District 21-2A win.
Sandoval picked up the win in seven innings as she only allowed one run on three hits. She struck out 17 and walked two. She was also 1-3 at the plate with her two-run HR.
Fletcher was tagged with the loss after she gave up three runs on seven hits. She struck out four and walked one.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.