PORT ARTHUR —
PORT ARTHUR - Hope Russell’s two-out, two-run double to right center field in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Little Cypress-Mauriceville a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Nederland Friday afternoon in the Region III Class 4A quarterfinal softball game at Memorial High School.
Nederland’s Taylor Davis hit a solo home run to deep left center field to give the Lady Bulldogs a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning. That looked to be the game-winning run until the Lady Bears late rally.
“I thought that was going to be the difference in the game,” Nederland coach Will Mallette said of Davis’ home run. “Generally speaking, we play really good defense and minimize errors. She had been struggling during the middle of the season, but I thought she was starting to see the ball better. It was a big hit for her and it’s a shame we couldn’t hang on to win the game.”
Tori Cooper, on in relief of starter MaKayla Kelly, walked Kassie James to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. Cooper coaxed Raven Cole into popping out to shortstop for the first out in the inning and then struck out Taylor Fraccastoro.
Chelsea McLain beat out an infield single on a bang-bang play at first base and James was able to scamper all the way to third on the play. That set the stage for Russell’s 2-run double to right center McLain scoring the game-winning run all the way from first base.
“I thought we played a great game from beginning to end,” said Mallette. “I thought there was a questionable call at first base. They hit the ball, and we did a good job hitting the ball. It was two great teams battling and someone has to win.
“Both teams did a good job of keeping the other team off balance in the middle innings. We left a lot of runners on base, several in scoring position, and didn’t take advantage of those situations. If you can score a run here or there, who knows how it works out.”
Kelly started and pitched the first four innings for Nederland. She allowed one run on three hits with one strikeout and one walk. Cooper took the loss in relief, allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts and three walks in two and two-third innings pitched.
“We planned to make the pitching change once we went two times through the batting order,” said Mallette. “We wanted to give them a different look.”
The Lady Bulldogs (26-10) started the scoring with a run in the top of the first inning. Cooper led off the game by getting hit by a pitch. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Savanna Guidry and scored the game’s first run on a single up the middle by Jensen Richard.
LC-M (32-5) answered with a run in the bottom half of the first. Mikaela Stegall led off with a single to left and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kayleigh Roy. After James was retired on a ground out to short, Raven Cole drew a two-out walk. Fraccastoro drove in Stegall with a single to left to time the game at 1-1.
Both teams had plenty of opportunities to score, but could not get the big hit. Nederland stranded seven runners between the second and fifth innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth. The Lady Bears left the bases loaded in the first and went on to strand seven more runners through six innings.
The Lady Bulldogs, who out hit LC-M eight to seven, were led at the plate by Richard and Velsey Beard with two hits each. Russell went 2-for-4 with two RBI to pace the Lady Bears. Cole pitched a complete-game, allowing two runs on eight hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
Nederland 100 001 0 - 2 8 2
LC-M 100 000 2 - 3 7 1
MaKayla Kelly, Tori Cooper (5) and Nicole Matise; Raven Cole and Taylor Fraccastoro. W - Cole. L - Cooper. Records: Nederland (26-10); LC-M (32-5).