By Will Johnson
MADISONVILLE – The Latexo Lady Tigers traveled to Madisonville on Thursday evening to take on the Thorndale Lady Dogs in the first game of a best-of-three Regional Quarterfinals series.
The Lady Tigers were riding high after sweeping the Snook Lady Jays in the Bi-District Round and then run-ruling the Mason Cowgirls in a one game series, 11-0, to capture the Area Championship.
The Lady Dogs, on the other hand, had run-ruled the Harper Lady Longhorns in Bi-District and then swept the Normangee Lady Panthers in Area.
Latexo came into the game with a record of 27-3-1 and a #8 ranking in the latest TGCA poll. Thorndale was ranked #10 and sported a record of 24-8.
The two teams seemed to be evenly matched coming into the contest and game one showed just how evenly matched they were. In a testament to the pitching and defense of both teams, neither team was able to cross the plate until the Lady Dogs scored with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to squeeze out a 1-0 win.
Karis Ginn was in the circle for Thorndale and she had Latexo’s number all evening. In the first inning, she jammed both Charlee Biano and Katy Allen inside as they both popped up to short. Natalie Nicol was up next and made good contact but flew out to center to end the Lady Tigers’ half of the first.
Lauren Woodard got the nod for Latexo and was equally as effective. After Thorndale’s Emilee Baker led off with a bas knock up the middle, Woodard got Natalie Garcia to hit into a 6-4 double play. A walk to Kelsey Kovar went nowhere as Woodard coaxed a pop up out of Reaghan Carlson to end the inning.
The Lady Tigers’ second inning wasn’t much better but they did get a hit. After Mally Moore lined out, Baylee Omelina was caught looking at strike three. Cammy Parrish, however, followed with a crisp single into center to give Latexo its first base runner. Unfortunately for the girls in green, that was as far as Parrish would get as Taylor Dise hit into a fielder’s choice at second to end the Latexo hopes of a two-out rally.
Woodard was back at it in the second as she recorded two quick outs. Bailee Baker grounded into a 5-3 force at first and then Ginn lined out to third. Reagyn Trahan was up next and singled past third but she also couldn’t advance as Woodard caught Kassidy Eubanks swinging at a pitch outside of the strike zone for an inning ending punch out.
Ginn continued to dominate the Lady Tigers’ batting order in the third as she fanned both Woodard and Marissa Allison before getting Biano to fly out to center.
The Lady Dogs threatened in the bottom of the frame, but the Latexo defense rose to the challenge, keeping the score knotted at 0-0. After Landri Martinka lined out to short, E. Baker connected on her second hit of the game. Garcia also singled but when E. Baker tried to advance to third, Mally Moore gunned her down from right field.
Garcia advanced to second on the play, but when Kovar hit a slow roller to third, the Lady Tigers defense pounced and threw her out at first to end the Lady Dogs’ scoring opportunity.
The fourth and fifth innings were relatively quiet, but in the bottom of the sixth, Thorndale let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers. Garcia led off for the Lady Dogs with a single up the middle and then stole second. Kovar sacrificed her over to third and Thorndale looked to be in business.
Carlson grounded into a fielder’s choice at third that forced Garcia to hold up but Carlson reached first on the play. Woodard would not be denied, however, as she got B. Baker to line out to third and then fanned Ginn to send the game into the seventh.
In the seventh, it was the Lady Tigers turn to turn up the heat. Allen led off the inning with a single to center and moved to second on a Nicol sacrifice. Moore was up next and she also singled to center. Allen moved to third on the play but a strong throw kept her there while Moore hustled into second.
That was as close as the Lady Tigers would get to scoring, however as Omelina struck out while Parrish popped up to end the Latexo threat.
As the bottom of the seventh got underway, Latexo made a pitching change as they brought Allen to the circle and she was just as effective as Woodard as she only allowed a bunt single in her first inning of work.
After Ginn, retired the Latexo side in order in the top of the eighth, Thorndale struck for the only run of the game. Garcia led off with a single, but Kovar flew out while Carlson fanned. A bunt from B. Baker moved Garcia to second and when Ginn ripped a shot past short, Garcia raced around third and crossed the plate to give the Lady Dogs the Game One win by a score of 1-0.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at [email protected].