The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Port Neches-Groves overcame the imposing pitching of Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s Raven Cole. It was the Lady Bears offense that hit hardest, though, as LC-M beat PN-G 9-4 on Thursday in District 20-4A play.
The Lady Bears (18-2, 9-0) scored six runs in the top of the sixth to turn a 4-3 PN-G lead into a ninth straight district victory.
“We didn’t get the job done on defense,” PN-G head coach Brook Buchanan said. “We talked about all that. You have to make plays on defense with a good team like that. We had a little miscommunication or whatnot.”
Morgan Babineaux led off the sixth with a triple to right field, scoring when the relay throw went wide. Two bloop singles later, PN-G starter Shelby Valentine was replaced by reliever Maci Dean.
An infield single by Mikaela Stegall loaded the bases before a walk, a bloop single to left and a line drive single to right gave LC-M five more runs and a comfortable margin of victory.
Buchanan said she made the pitching change mid-inning to try and throw off LC-M’s timing at the plate.
“They were hitting Shelby,” Buchanan said. “We got to a point where they get a couple hits in a row. Either her pitches are flat or they got the timing on her and they’ve got her. So, I tried to switch it up with the speed with Maci and throw them off a little bit.”
Until that unfortunate inning, PN-G had to feel good about how it handled the district-leading Lady Bears. The Lady Indians erased two LC-M leads and had a 4-3 lead heading into the top of the sixth.
After LC-M catcher Taylor Fraccastoro hit a solo home run in the top of the second, PN-G’s Ricki Gilbert tied the score in the bottom of the third.
With one out in the inning, Nicole Thorn was hit by a pitch on her batting helmet as she attempted to drag bunt. Gilbert followed at the plate and showed bunt herself. However, Gilbert pulled her bat back and hit a line drive past a charging second baseman that rolled into the right center field gap.
Thorn scored to tie the score at 1-1 and Gilbert ended up with a triple. One inning later, Katie Lee gave the Lady Indians a 4-2 lead.
Catcher Ryanne Lunceford drew a leadoff walk from LC-M starter Raven Cole. After Maci Dean popped out in foul territory, Lee pounded a pitch to deep left center for a two-run home run that made it 3-2 PN-G.
Maddison Resch padded the Lady Indians’ lead with a double to right center two batters later that scored Victoria Jackson, making it 4-2 PN-G.
That chased Cole from the mound. The LC-M hurler allowed four runs, four hits and two walks while striking out eight in 3 1/3 innings of work.
“The first thing I said to them is that I was very proud of them,” Buchanan said. “If we play like we did in those first few innings, we can beat any team. Katie Lee with that home run was beautiful. The positives at the plate were that they were aggressive and they chose the right pitches to swing at. That was good to see as a coach.”
Valentine took the loss, throwing 5-plus innings while allowing 10 hits, six runs and one walk. Valentine also struck out three.
Ricki Gilbert finished the game 1 for 3 at the plate with a triple, a walk, an RBI and a stolen base.
PN-G (13-9, 5-4) is off until April 5, when the Lady Indians host Beaumont Central at 5 p.m.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville 9, Port Neches-Groves 4
LC-M 010 116 0 — 9 14 0
PN-G 001 300 0 — 4 5 2
Raven Cole, Hope Russell (4) and Taylor Fraccastoro; Shelby Valentine, Maci Dean (6) and Ryanne Lunceford. W — Russell. L — Valentine.
Leading hitters: PN-G — Ricki Gilbert 1-3, 3B, BB, RBI, SB; Katie Lee 1-3, HR, 2 RBIs; Ryanne Lunceford 0-2, BB, run scored.
Records: PN-G (13-9, 5-4); LC-M (18-2, 9-0).
Next: PN-G hosts Beaumont Central, 5 p.m. April 5