Series Winner to Face Lovelady in Regional Quarters
By Will Johnson
RUSK – The Grapeland Sandiettes traveled to Rusk on Tuesday, April 30 to take on the Woden Lady Eagles in an Area Championship Series. The Sandiettes had advanced after they defeated the Joaquin Lady Rams by a score of 8-6 while the Lady Eagles had trounced Zavalla 23-0.
The two teams had decided to play a doubleheader to open the best-of-three series while Game Three, if needed, would be held on Friday, May 3. As it turned out, Game Three was necessary after Grapeland won the top half of the doubleheader, 5-2, while Woden won the second game, 7-5.
As the first game got underway, Woden’s Amber Allen was in the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Eagles and struggled with her control early on. After she retired Grapeland’s leadoff hitter, Kiera DeCluette, Allen walked Diamond Dunn who promptly stole second.
Dunn moved to third on a wild pitch and when Cadie Belle Currie hit into a fielder’s choice, Dunn scampered home to give the Sandiettes an early 1-0 lead.
Makayla McCombs came into run for Currie but was thrown out at second when Cheney Boyd hit into a fielder’s choice. Cierra Simon was up next, but struck out to end the Grapeland part of the first inning.
Currie was in the circle for the Sandiettes and she worked a fairly easy first inning. After she walked Shelby Brookshire to lead off the bottom half of the first, she retired the next three hitters she faced – Skylar Smith, Reese Taylor and Allen – to send the game into the second inning.
Allen looked to have shaken off the control issues as the second inning got underway. She got Madi McCombs to groundout and then struck out Jaycee Graham on three straight pitches.
Keke Harris was up next, however, and she singled into left. Haylee Reed drew a walk, advancing Harris to second base. On a 1-1 count, the Sandiettes executed a double steal as Harris moved to third and Reed took second. On the next pitch, Harris stole home and put the Sandiettes up 2-0.
DeCluette was up once again and this time she came through with a double to drive in Reed. DeCluette took third on throw but was stranded when Dunn struck out.
Down 3-0, the Lady Eagles mounted a comeback. Meagan Johnson reached safely after an error in the outfield. Abby Chapel was up next and flew out to right field. She was followed in the batting order by Madison Christopher who singled up the middle, advancing Johnson to second.
Chelsea Brookshire followed with a groundout, but advanced the runners. Just when it seemed Currie might get out of the inning unscathed, Briley Watkins ripped a double into left which plated Johnson and Christopher, cutting the Sandiettes lead to 3-2.
Fortunately, Currie coaxed a pop up from S. Brookshire down the third base line that DeCluette was able to squeeze for the third out.
The Sandiettes tacked on a run in the fourth and added another in the sixth as they held Woden scoreless the remainder of the game to take Game One by a score of 5-2.
Approximately 30 minutes later, Game Two got underway. Currie was back in the circle for the Sandiettes and retired the Lady Eagles in order to open the game.
When the Sandiettes came in to bat, it seemed as if they carried the momentum from Game One into Game Two as they plated three runs to take an early 3-0 lead.
DeCluette struck out to lead things off, but Dunn followed with a single. She stole second and moved to third on a throwing error. Currie tried to bunt her home but Dunn was thrown out at the plate.
Currie made it to first and Mak. McCombs came in as a courtesy runner. She moved to second on a single from Boyd and took third when Simon singled into center.
That brought Mad. McCombs to the plate and on a 2-2 pitch, she ripped a double to the gap in center. Mak. McCombs, Boyd and Simon all crossed the plate and just like that it was 3-0 in favor of Grapeland.
Allen, who also returned to the circle, managed to strike out Graham and limit the damage, but the Sandiettes looked like they had the Lady Eagles on the ropes.
A quiet second inning gave way to the third and the wheels fell off for Grapeland. C. Brookshire led off the inning with a base hit into center. From there, back-to-back-back errors set the stage for Woden to score seven runs and take control of the game with a 7-3 lead.
The Sandiettes managed to shave the Lady Eagles lead down to two after Boyd homered to lead off the fifth and a Harris double which drove in Madi McCombs.
Grapeland had a few more chances but that was as close as they would get as Woden took Game Two by a final score of 7-5.
Game Three was played on Friday, May 3, but as of press time the final score was unavailable.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.