Grapeland Falls to Lovelady, 2-1
By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – Watch out, now! It looks like there may be a new sheriff in town – her name is Mimi Sandoval – and she plays for the Lovelady Lady Lions softball team.
The Lady Lions’ softball program has gone through a few down years recently but they appear to be all the way back after they clipped a powerhouse Grapeland Sandiettes team – in Grapeland – by a final score of 2-1 on Tuesday, March 25.
It was no easy task, however, as the two teams battled through nine innings of play before the game was decided by an error.
The Sandiettes’ ace and All-State pitcher, Cadie Belle Currie, was in the circle to start the game. Despite a rocky start, Currie showed Sandoval she wasn’t about to relinquish her status as one of the best pitcher’s in the state.
Lovelady’s Jacy Stubblefield led off the game and reached safely on a bunt that was mishandled along the third baseline. Makayla White hit into a 5-3 force advancing Stubblefield to second while an error at second moved her to third.
Linda Martinez was up next and she ripped a shot to Cierra Simon at shortstop. Simon fielded the ball cleanly and threw home – just not in time to get the fleet-footed Stubblefield, who slid under the tag of catcher Madi McCombs.
Shyanne Pipkin came into to run for Martinez but was unable to do any damage as Currie struck out her counterpart and forced Erin Sample to ground back to the circle.
When Sandoval went to the circle to start the bottom of the first, she was nearly untouchable. She struck out Simon, Kiera DeCluette and Diamond Dunn on a total of nine pitches to send the game into the second inning.
Currie was just as tough in the top of the second as she caught Amber Mikes looking at and Rylee Biedrzycki swinging at strike three. Bailey Albinus was up next for the Lady Lions but Currie got her to groundout to third as the game moved into the bottom of the second.
After her first pitch to Cheney Boyd was a ball, Sandoval mowed her down on three pitches for the first out in the Grapeland half of the second. Currie was up next and slapped a looper into center field for the game’s first hit. Ragan Bowie came in as a courtesy runner but when Lovelady’s Albinus was able to flag down a flare from McCombs, Bowie was doubled up at first to end the inning.
As the game continued, the Sandiettes threatened to score in both the third and fourth innings but Sandoval managed to dance her way out of trouble with no damage. Currie, meanwhile, retired the side in order during both innings.
In the fifth inning, Currie struck out the first two batters she faced but then gave up a double to Albinus. That was as far as Albinus would get however, as Sarah Thompson popped out to third to end the inning.
Sandoval continued her mastery over the Grapeland batters in the bottom of the fifth as she caught McCombs looking at strike three while both Jaycee Graham and Haylee Reed struck out swinging.
With the Lady Lions clinging to a 1-0, Stubblefield led off the top of the sixth with a single up the middle. That was as far as she got, however, as White, Martinez and Sandoval all grounded out.
The Sandiettes finally got on the scoreboard in their half of the sixth. After KeKe Harris popped up for the first out, Simon managed to get on board with a bunt single. She stole second and when the throw from the catcher was mishandled, Simon motored into third.
DeCluette was up next and roped a single into center giving Simon a chance stroll home with the tying run. DeCluette stole second but was stranded there when Sandoval struck out both Dunn and Boyd to send the game into the seventh inning.
Both pitchers worked an easy seventh frame as the game moved into extra innings. In the eighth, Currie retired the side in order while Sandoval walked one but stayed out of trouble.
In the ninth, the Sandiettes were the first to blink. Currie retired White and Martinez on groundouts but Sandoval lined a hit into left. Sample was up next and singled into right which moved Sandoval to third as Sample took second on the throw.
On the play, however, an errant throw back to the pitcher allowed Sandoval to sprint home with the go-ahead run as Sample moved to third. Once the ball was fielded, a throw down to third was also misplayed.
In a somewhat controversial call, Sample got tangled up at third with DeCluette. Once she untangled herself and finally broke for home, Sample was gunned down at the plate for the third out. Lovelady, however, now led 2-1 and had placed the Sandiettes’ backs squarely against the wall.
With only three outs remaining to secure the win, Sandoval struck out Boyd for the third time in the game. Grapeland had a glimmer of hope after Currie doubled, but then Sandoval slammed the door shut as she struck out both Madi McCombs and MaKayla McCombs to end the game and give the Lady Lions the 2-1 District 20-2A win.
Sandoval picked up the win in nine innings. She gave up one run (unearned) on six hits with 16 Ks and two walks. Currie was the hard-luck loser as she went nine innings while only giving up two runs (both unearned) on four hits with eight strikeouts and zero walks.
On the game, Grapeland had three errors while Lovelady only had two.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.