PORT ARTHUR —
Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s Raven Cole punctured the night sky with a majestic blast to left field that easily cleared the seven-foot outfield fence in the bottom of the fourth.
Three innings later, Cleveland’s Aurora Burks helped the night take one back. The center fielder measured a hard-hit fly ball off the bat of Cole’s teammate Kasie James, then raced back a couple steps as the ball carried more than she expected, before Burks went into a flat-out dive to catch the ball and bump into the fence with the top of her head.
Two plays. Two highlights. One memorable All-Star Game.
Cole and the East team beat the West 10-2 on Thursday at Port Arthur Memorial’s softball field in the first annual Southeast Texas Coaches Association All-Star softball game.
“That was pretty awesome,” LC-M head coach Dena Atkins, who helmed the East team, said of Cole’s home run. “With her teammates on base, she went from a 3-0 count to a 3-2 count and the girl kept feeding her. I’m proud of her. I’m glad she got it.”
Cole headlined much of the night, as the right-handed pitcher who will attend LSU-Enice in the fall was named the SETCA Player of the year before the game.
She then threw three shutout innings on the mound for the East, striking out the last six batters she faced and getting eight of her nine outs on strikeouts.
Add in the home run, which came with teammates James and Kaleigh Roy on base, and Cole had one heck of an evening, earning herself the East’s Player of the Game award in the process.
“It felt pretty good, yes it did,” Cole said. “I had a full count on me. She threw me three balls and I just let them go by. I got lucky, but I was glad that it happened. There’s nothing more productive than that happening.
“I threw my three innings and then got to play the field. That was pretty fun. I got to play left field. That shouldn’t ever happen again.”
Nederland’s Jensen Richard scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning. The speedy second baseman slapped a single to lead off the frame and moved to third on Roy’s double. Richard then scored two batters later on a wild pitch to make it 1-0 East.
Richard enjoyed her All-Star experience, even if it was one she didn’t expect at the end of her Lady Bulldog season.
“It was a fun experience, playing with people you’ve never played with before,” Richard said. “I didn’t know at all (that there would be a game). When my coach told me, I was caught by surprise. It was awesome getting to play in this uniform one last time.”
Richard was joined by Nederland teammate Jenny Freeman, who hit a double and drove in a run of her own in the bottom of the second. Freeman laced a line drive over the right fielder’s head with two outs, scoring Warren’s Josie Walters from second.
Freeman also got to join in the all-star fun, moving around to play both shortstop and right field in the game. She wasn’t alone, as Richard got a chance to play center field late and Cole played left field at the end of the game.
“I told the girls that, other than pitching and catching, you decide where you play every inning,” Atkins said. “If you sit the bench one inning, you’ll play the next. It was a very relaxed atmosphere. They did a good job sharing the playing time.”
The West’s Player of the Game was Coldspring’s Riley Browder, who had a triple and scored one of the West’s two runs in the top of the fifth. Colmesneil’s Allie Harvey took the loss for the West, throwing three innings and giving up four runs.
SETCA’s All-Star Weekend continues Friday with a doubleheader of basketball games at East Chambers beginning at 6:30 p.m.