PORT NECHES —
Taylor Thompson's first hit was tracked down in deep right center.
On her second at-bat, Thompson made sure the ball wouldn't be caught, as the senior center fielder ripped a two-run triple to left field in the bottom of the third to lead Port Neches-Groves past Nederland 7-3 Tuesday at The Reservation.
Thompson was just one of five Lady Indians to score runs as the entire offense helped give starter Shelbi Valentine two early leads.
“That was a great hit and some huge runs for us,” PN-G head coach Brook Fontenot said. “It was a good, timely hit (for Thompson). We got the runs in scoring position when we needed to. The players behind them did the job they needed to get the job done. That’s all you can ask as a coach. They hustled in the game. Shelbi Valentine did a great job on the mound.”
After a couple of defensive miscues in the top of the first inning, Nederland’s Savana Guidry scored the game’s first run on a Kelsey Beard sacrifice bunt.
PN-G responded with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning, as senior shortstop Ricki Gilbert led off with a single and advanced to third when Maci Dean reached on an error. Gilbert scored on Valentine’s single while Dean came across the plate on a fielder’s choice to second.
“We had a couple of people in some new positions,” Fontenot said. “Those people had a couple of miscues. I’m very proud of them for stepping up and fighting through it. They were very mentally tough as far as seeing what needed to be done, relaxing and letting it go to come back to the next play.”
Nederland, however, was unable to get around its own errors. A throwing error in the first helped PN-G take its first lead and another in the fourth led to two more runs scoring on Ricki Gilbert's bunt single.
After Hannah Hernandez and Nicole Thorn had back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom of the fourth, Gilbert put down a bunt up the first base line. The throw got past Nederland’s first baseman and caromed down the foul line, which allowed both Hernandez and Thorn to score, with Gilbert ending up on third.
“Defensively, we played terribly,” Nederland head coach Will Mallette said. “That was the first time this year we looked confused. We just didn’t play our game. We have to do a better job with people in scoring position. There will be better days ahead and next time, we’ll come out more fired up than this.
“We were flat all game long and this game doesn’t require motivation. It’s motivation in itself. We just didn’t play that well. That’s the bottom line.”
Nederland rallied again in the top of the seventh, as Guidry picked up her fourth hit by slapping a single up the middle. After the next batter struck out, Kelsey Beard hit an infield single to the shortstop and Nicole Matise loaded the bases with a single under the PN-G third baseman’s glove.
That’s when Valentine closed out the game, getting a fielder’s choice grounder out of Jensen Richard. That scored Guidry from third, but Valentine got MaKayla Kelly to fly out to right field one batter later to end the game.
Valentine finished the game with 7 innings pitched, allowing 11 hits and three runs while walking one and striking out two.
MaKayla Kelly took the loss for Nederland, throwing 6 innings while allowing eight hits, seven runs and two walks with six strikeouts.
Nederland (14-7, 2-2) moved its second game this week to Wednesday at 2 p.m. at home against Ozen. PN-G (11-8, 3-1) will travel to Vidor at 7 p.m. Friday.
Port Neches-Groves 7, Nederland 3
NED 101 000 1 — 3 11 2
PN-G 202 300 X — 7 8 1
MaKayla Kelly and Nicole Matise; Shelbi Valentine and Ryanne Lunceford. W — Valentine. L — Kelly.
Leading hitters: NED — Savana Guidry 4-4, 2 runs scored; Katie Freeman 2-3, 2 2B; Kelsey Beard 2-3, 2 RBIs. PN-G — Ricki Gilbert 2-4, 2 runs scored; Valentine 2-3, run scored, RBI, HBP; Taylor Thompson 1-3, 3B, 2 RBIs.
Records: PN-G (11-8, 3-1); Nederland (14-7, 2-2).
Next: Nederland hosts Ozen, 2 p.m. Wednesday; PN-G at Vidor, 7 p.m. Friday.