The Lovejoy Lady Leopards defeated Sulpur Springs in game 2 of the best of 3 series 12-4. Don’t let the score deceive you though. The Lady Cats put up a fight through the entire game and made the Lady Leopards fight for every run scored.
Lovejoy came out in the 1st inning scoring 2 runs to get things started. JoJo McRae reached 1st base on a walk, stole 2nd base, stole 3rd base, and was the lone runner on with 2 outs. Emily Weichel laced a double toward the 3rd base line in left field scoring McRae and reached 2nd base on the double. Alyssa DiFiore followed with a base hit up the middle to centerfield and scored Weichel for the RBI. At the end of the top of the first, Lovejoy was up 2-0.
Sulphur Springs answered back in the bottom of the 1st inning with 1 run of their own. The lead off reached 1st base on an infield single and scored on a base hit. The Lady Cats came out hitting four singles in the inning, but Mattie Boyd from the circle, and her defense, held them to the lone run with bases loaded.
The Lady Leopards came out firing on all cylinders in the top of the 2nd scoring 4 runs on 2 hits. Mackenzie Mitchell led off the inning with a slap toward the pitcher, but the throw was off and Mitchell made her way to 2nd base on the throwing error. JoJo McRae reached on another infield error and Celeste Soliz earned an RBI on a sacrifice fly to center scoring Mitchell. Leah Taylor also reached on a infield error and scored McRae on the play. Emily Weichel completed the scoring with a home run over the left field fence, which earned her 2 RBI.
The momentum exploded the emotion of the Lady Leopards and they held the Lady Cats without a hit the next 3 innings. Defensive plays by Alyssa DiFiore at 3rd base, Emily Weichel at short stop, and Kallie Killingsworth in right field helped that cause, as well as, 3 strike outs by Boyd in the circle.
Unfortunately for Lovejoy, the bats took a break for their next 3 offensive innings as well. The Lady Cats held the Lady Leopards scoreless with bases loaded in the 4th and 5th innings.
Sulphur Springs proved in the 5th inning they were not going down without a fight. Lovejoy was up 6-1 and they had every right to give up and be done, but they weren’t. With one out, they loaded the bases on back to back infield hits and a walk. Their clean up hitter cleared the bases on a line drive to left field and it appeared the Lady Cats were right back in the game. Mattie Boyd ended the bottom of the 5th with a strike out looking and the score was now 6-4 going into the top of the 6th.
Lovejoy was able to add 2 more runs in the top of the 6th on a walk to DiFiore and a single by Kylee Ramos. Carlee Schaeffer went in as a pinch runner for DiFiore and advanced to 2nd base on a passed ball. The single by Ramos moved her over the 3rd base and after a stolen base by Ramos, the Lady Leopards had runners at 2nd and 3rd. Schaeffer scored on a passed ball and Ramos scored on the same passed ball by a miss fire from the catcher to the pitcher. At the end of the 6th the Lady Leopards added a small cushion and were up 8-4.
The Lady Cat seven hole led the bottom of the 6th off with a single, but Boyd answered back with back to back strike outs. Although a Lovejoy error allowed the lead off to get on 1st, a key defensive play on a ground ball from DiFiore at 3rd to Mallory Lusby at 1st, ended the inning. The score remained 8-4.
The Lady Leopards finished the game on a high note scoring 4 runs in the top of the 7th inning. Back to back walks by the Lady Cat pitcher allowed Celeste Soliz and Leah Taylor to reach base. Alex Bellows ran as the courtesy runner in place of the catcher, Soliz. With Bellows on 2nd and Taylor on first, Emily Weichel roped a second home run on the night over the left field fence. Weichel finished the night with 6 RBI’s, 2 home runs, and a double. The Lady Leopards weren’t finished though. Two batters later, Kylee Ramos added a line drive home run over the centerfield wall. Her home run put Lovejoy up 12-4.
Sulphur Springs, once again, wasn’t giving up. The three hole led off the inning with a ground out to Boyd at pitcher for the first out. The clean up then hit a double to the left field wall followed by the 6 hole hitting a single to right. The three hole advanced to 3rd on the single and the clean up moved over to 2nd on a passed ball. With runners at 2nd and 3rd, the five hole hit a ground ball to DiFiore at 3rd. She held the runner and made the play to Lusby at 1st for the 2nd out. The next batter was walked and the Lady Cats had bases loaded with 2 outs. On a 1-1 count, the 8 hole hit a ground ball also to DiFiore. She fielded the ball, set her feet, and made the throw to Lusby to end the game.
Unbelievable emotions surrounded this match up. For Sulphur Springs, the loss of a parent causing a team and a community to pull together in spite of tragedy. Through this experience, we are all reminded that there is so much more out there than ‘just’ softball. Compassion, respect, and love were shown in a way you would never see on a softball field in a ânormalâ bi-district match-up.
In game 2, every player for Lovejoy and Sulphur Springs wore two ribbons. The blue ribbon was worn to honor the memory of Bailey Haggerty’s mom. A #1 for Bailey’s number and the scripture reference Pslam 23 was written on it. A red ribbon was worn to honor the memory of Mattie Boyd’s grandmother who passed away this last week as well. A #11 for Mattie’s number and the scripture reference Psalm 23 was written on it. At the end of game 1, Lovejoy presented a bouquet of flowers to Sulphur Springs as a token of sympathy for Bailey and her team. At the end of game 2, Sulphur Springs presented a bouquet of flowers to Lovejoy as a token of sympathy for what Mattie was going through. These were such small âthingsâ, but great in the way of what each team will walk away with.
Though Lovejoy will be moving on to the Area round of playoffs, congratulations must be given to Sulphur Springs for their ability to fight through such circumstances. Great job to the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats and great job to the Lovejoy Lady Leopards. Our thoughts and prayers will continue.