By Larry Lamb
RUSK -- Lovelady swept a double-header over Shel-byville on Thursday to clinch bi-district honors and advance to the area round of the state softball playoffs.
The No. 5-ranked Lady Lions may not have been firing on all cylinders in Game 1, but they played well enough to shut out the Lady Dragons 3-0.
Lovelady pitcher Macie LaRue recorded the complete game victory, allowing no runs and one hit with 16 strikeouts and no walks.
The Lady Lions collected just four hits off Shelbyville pitcher Taylor Jones, who struck out three and walked five.
After leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, the Lady Lions plated two runs in the third. Scout Lovell reached on a bunt single, stole second and third, and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Linda Martinez. Morgan Womack walked and scored on an error by the shortstop for a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Lions tacked on their final run in the sixth. Shyanne Pipkin hit a bunt single to the third baseman, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Pipkin tagged up and scored when Mihyia Davis lined out to center field. Lovell smashed a two-out triple but was stranded.
In Game 2, Lovelady returned to its usual high intensity level and dominated Shelbyville 13-3 in five innings.
Making up for their lack of hitting in the first game, the Lady Lions pounded out 10 hits, including three round-trippers by Womack, Martinez and Haven Prager. Davis chipped in with a pair of triples while Martinez and Prager also collected a double.
Womack started in the circle and pitched 2/3 inning, giving up three runs on one hit, no strikeouts and two walks.
LaRue pitched the remaining 4 1/3 innings. She gave up one hit and no runs with six strikeouts and two walks.
Lovelady jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first. Davis led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout by Womack.
After Lovell was hit by pitch and Prager walked, Lovell came home on a passed ball and Prager scored on a groundout by Biedrzycki
Shelbyville knotted the score at 3-3 with three runs of its own in the bottom of the first.
The Lady Dragons soon found themselves trailing in the fourth when Davis scored and Martinez hit a two-run homer. Prager singled and scored on a Biedrzycki's hit to make it 7-3.
A leadoff homer by Womack set the stage for a five-run frenzy in the fourth that put Lovelady up 12-3.
Prager drilled a fly ball to right field to give the Lady Lions a 10-run lead in the top of the fifth.
Shelbyville had two runners on base in the fifth but hopes of extending their season faded way when first baseman Prager fielded two pop-ups in foul territory.