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Lady Lions' historic season ends as state runner-up

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060922 lady lion softball endsLovelady Lady Lions pose with the UIL Conference 2A State Runner-up trophy and their silver medals after the championship game last Wednesday night in Austin. Pictured with head coach Jordyn Hester are, from left, manager Chelsea Butler, McKinzie Seale, Macie LaRue, Linda Martinez, Mihyia Davis, Scout Lovell, Bailee Albinus, Shyanne Pipkin, Makenna Pierce, Rylee Biedrzycki, Haven Prager, Gracie McMahon and Morgan Womack.

By Larry Lamb
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AUSTIN — The new kids on the block made their presence known at the UIL State Softball Championships.

The Lovelady Lady Lions (35-5-2) came home with the Class 2A State Runner-up trophy in their debut on the big stage at McCombs Field.

Lovelady knocked off defending state champion Stamford 1-0 in the semifinals Tuesday night but was unable to topple top-ranked Crawford in the championship game Wednesday night.

Crawford, the 2021 state runner-up, defeated the Lady Lions 3-0 to claim its fourth state crown in six state appearances.
Crawford won its semifinal game 1-0 over Weimar, which made its ninth trip to state.

With the game-time temperature registering 95 degrees, the Lovelady-Stamford match-up was a scoreless stalemate until the bottom of the sixth. Mihyia Davis led off with a bunt single, stole second and went to third when Scout Lovell hit a single to the shortstop and stole second.

With one out, Haven Prager reached on a fielder’s choice bunt and advanced to second on a fielding error by the first baseman that allowed Davis to score.

With Lovell at third, Linda Martinez reached on a fielder’s choice, Prager advanced to third and Lovell was thrown out at home for out two. A strike-out ended the threat, but one run was all the Lady Lions needed to secure the win and advance to the championship game.

The Lady Lions fended off Stamford in the top of the seventh after a two-out single.

Macie LaRue struck out the first batter and the second popped up to Prager at first base.

With Stamford down to its final out, a single provided a glimmer of hope but the next batter grounded out to seal a 1-0 Lovelady victory.

As you’d expect, the statistics for both teams were even in a few categories. Each team had five hits and each left five runners on base. Stamford committed one error while Lovelady was perfect in the field.

The match-up featured two senior pitchers.

LaRue (22-1) recorded the complete game victory in the circle. She allowed five hits and zero runs with six strikeouts and no walks.

Stamford pitcher Citlaly Gutierrez (18-5) gave up one run on five hits while striking out 11 and walking none.

Davis and Lovell both hit 2-for-3 while Martinez was 1-for-3.

Wednesday night's championship game started 45 minutes late at 7:45 p.m. with the thermometer sitting at 92 degrees.

Scoring in each of the first three innings, the Lady Pirates rode a shut-out performance in the circle by junior Kenzie Jones, who was named Championship Game MVP on the 2A State All-Tournament Team.

Jones (28-2) gave up three hits, struck out five and walked two.

Crawford scored in the first frame when Jones singled to right center field after a two-out double by Kylie Ray.

In the second inning, Crawford used small ball to push across its second run after a leadoff single by Haley Holmes, who advanced to second and third on sacrifice bunts. With two outs, the next batter was hit by pitch and Holmes came home when the following batter reached on an error.

Taylor Gohlke put Crawford up 3-0 in the third when she laced a double to left center field to drive in pinch runner Kymbree Larance after Jones reached on a single.

The Lady Lions left four runners on base while Crawford stranded six.

LaRue drew a leadoff walk in the third and Morgan Womack got a free pass in the fourth, but both were erased on a fielder's choice. Biedrzycki led off the fifth with a single but was out at second on a fielder's choice.

Despite collecting two hits in the sixth, the Lady Lions were unable to spark a rally. Lovell drilled a one-out single down the left field line but was caught stealing second. Womack followed with a single but Jones struck out the next batter to snuff out the threat.

LaRue (22-2) gave up three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks.

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Softball camp next week

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060522 softball camp

The Crockett Lady Dogs Softball Camp will be held June 6-7 at the CHS diamond.

The camp, designed for all skill levels ranging from beginners to advanced players, will be held from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Cost is $20 per camper and includes a camp shirt, photo and treat at the end of the camp.

The camp's goal is to improve a player's swings, throws, catching, fielding, base running and overall knowledge of the game.

CHS softball coach Paul Ellsworth said the camp is not limited to Crockett and students from other schools are welcome.

For more information contact Ellsworth at 903-399-6419 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Kennard Tigers earn return trip to state tournament

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By Larry Lamb
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KILGORE — The Kennard Tigers are headed to the UIL state baseball tournament for the second straight year.

After blasting Union Hill 10-0 behind pitcher Dylan Cole's perfect game Thursday, Kennard fell victim to a 5-4 walk-off on Friday that forced a deciding third game for the

Region III championship.
With the season on the line Saturday night, the Tigers responded with a convincing 16-4 blowout to secure a berth in the UIL Class 1A State Tournament in Round Rock next week.

Union Hill took a 1-0 lead in the first inning but its hopes quickly faded away as Kennard scored five in the first, three in the second, four in the third and four in the fourth for a 16-2 lead.

060522 Elijah DowdyKennard's Elijah Dowdy gets a big lead off second in Game 2 against Union Hill last Friday. Photo by Larry LambThe Tigers held Union Hill to two runs in the top of the fifth to end the game under the 10-run rule.

Kennard set the tone early. By the end of the first inning the Tigers had scored five runs on five hits and three walks.

The Tigers scored on a double by Elijah Dowdy and singles by Cole and Ryan Pilkington, who scored on a dropped third strike. Caleb Alfred singled, stole second and scored from third on a passed ball to make it 5-1.

Cole led off the second with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Keyton Lumbreraz. Lumbreraz came home on a line-drive triple by Pilkington, who scored on an error by the shortstop for an 8-1 lead.

The Tigers continued to pound away in third and extended their lead to 12-1.

Jaden Kulms drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on an error by the catcher. Cole singled, stole second and came home on a base hit by Lumbreraz, who scored on a triple by Pilkington. A passed ball allowed Pilkington to score.

Union Hill mounted a threat in the fourth after loading the bases. A wild pitch allowed one run to score but Pilkington struck out the next two batters.

Kennard didn't let up in the fourth.

After leadoff batter Nick Dowdy was hit by pitch and Kulms doubled, Elijah Dowdy's hard ground ball single made it 14-2. With two outs after Pilkington reached on catcher's interference, another hard grounder by Alfred brought in Kennard's final two runs.

With bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Union Hill pushed across two runs on a line drive single to left field. The next batter grounded out and the Tigers began their celebration.

Cole notched the pitching win, allowing three hits and one run while striking out four and walking one in 2 2/3 innings. Pilkington and Lumbreraz helped to close out the game in relief.

Pilkington worked 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and one run with three strikeouts and one walk. Lumbreraz gave up two runs on three hits, one strikeout and one walk in one inning.

Three Union Hill pitchers combined gave up 15 hits with five strikeouts and five walks.

Pilkington collected three hits, including a pair of triples, three RBI and scored four runs. Cole had three hits and scored three runs.

Contributing two hits apiece were Kulms, Lumbreraz, Alfred and E. Dowdy, who had three RBI.

Kennard played a flawless game defensively while Union Hill was hampered by three errors.

The Tigers ran wild on the base paths with eight stolen bases. Cole led with three and Alfred had two.

060222 Nick DowdyKennard's Nick Dowdy dives back to second on a pick-off throw during Game 2 against Union Hill. Photo by Larry LambGame 2
Union Hill 5, Kennard 4

A walk-off lifted Union Hill to a 5-4 victory Friday night to thwart a series sweep by the Tigers.

With the game tied at four in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs pushed across the game-winning run on a sacrifice bunt.

After three scoreless innings Kennard went up 1-0 in the fourth when Cole singled, stole second and third, and scored on an error.

The Bulldogs loaded the bases in their half of the fourth and tied the game on a passed ball. Kulms, the starting pitcher, struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

A three-run uprising by the Bulldogs opened up a 4-1 lead in the fifth.

Union Hill scored a go-ahead run on an error and scored two more on a sac fly and another error. Pilkington took the mound with one out and ended the threat with a strikeout.

The Tigers evened the score with three runs in the sixth. Elijah Dowdy led off with a double, went to third on a ground out by Lumbreraz and scored on a single by Cole.

Cole stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and came home on a sacrifice by Pilkington.

Alfred walked, stole second and scored the tying run on a grounder by Montero.

Both teams were hampered by miscues defensively. Union Hill had four errors and Kennard had three.

The Tigers only had four hits. Cole was 2-for-3, Nick Dowdy was 1-for-3 and Elijah Dowdy went 1-for-4 with a double.

Cole had three stolen bases and Alfred had one.

Kulms started on the hill and went 4 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs on zero hits, struck out five and walked seven. Pilkington worked 2 1/3 innings in relief and gave up three runs on three hits with three strikeouts and no walks.

Game 1
Kennard 10, Union Hill 0

Cole pitched a perfect game, the bats were hot and the defense played flawlessly in the series opener Thursday night.

Cole gave up no hits, no runs and no walks while striking out 12 batters over five innings.

Union Hill committed three errors in the field while the Tigers were perfect.

Kennard grabbed a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. After Kulms walked and Elijah Dowdy was hit by pitch, Cole swung at the first pitch he saw and crushed a line drive triple to bring in two runs. Cole scored on a passed ball.

In the second, Elijah Dowdy hit a two-out single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a passed ball. Dowdy scored on another wild pitch to make it 4-0.

Alfred’s leadoff triple sparked a six-run frenzy in the third. After Alfred scored on a ground out by Montero, Nick Farmer walked and Nick Dowdy hit a bunt single. Kulms drove in two runs and later scored from third on a wild pitch to give the Tigers a 7-0 cushion.

With bases loaded after back-to-back walks by Elijah Dowdy and Lumbreraz, Kulms scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by Cole.

E. Dowdy stole home and Lumbreraz scored on an error by the catcher after stealing second and third for a 10-0 lead.

Cole sealed the victory in the fifth by striking out the side. He struck out two batters on six pitches and sat down another on four pitches to end the game.

The Tigers logged eight hits off two pitchers, struck out three times and drew seven walks.

Alfred, 2-for-3, and Cole, 1-for-1, both collected triples. Cole finished the night with three RBI.

Contributing base hits were Kulms, N. Dowdy, Pilkington, Montero and E. Dowdy, who scored three runs.

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Lady Lions make history as Final Four

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Regional champions websiteOnly one box remains unchecked on the Lady Lions' playoff banner after they captured the regional championship Friday, leaving them just two wins away from the state championship. Photo by Larry Lamb

By Larry Lamb
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RUSK — Lovelady has been knocking on the door to the state softball tournament for several years now and has finally broken through.

The Lady Lions swept Groveton in a regional final series to become the first softball team in school history to reach the Final Four.

After winning the series opener 5-0 on Thursday night, Lovelady (34-4-2) clinched the Class 2A Region III championship by winning 11-2 on Friday afternoon.

The Lady Lions' historic season continued Tuesday night in Austin with a state semifinal match-up against Stamford (26-4). Crawford (27-2) and Weimar (31-6) are pitted in the semifinals at 4 p.m.

The winners battle for the 2A state crown Wednesday night at 7 o'clock.

"It's a great experience going to state. It means so much because these girls have worked so hard for this and I'm just glad to be a part of it," said Lady Lions head coach Jordyn Hester. "They have worked hard every single day in practice and they came out today and worked really hard. I'm so proud to be able to witness them being successful because if anyone deserves it, it's theseseniors."

The current seniors were freshmen on the 2019 team that finished as regional runner-up behind West Sabine.

The 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic and in 2021 the Lady Lions suffered another disappointing loss to West Sabine in the regional final. The Lady Lions didn’t get a chance to avenge those losses this year as Groveton eliminated West Sabine in the third round.

In Game 1, Macie LaRue threw a complete game shutout while giving up three hits, striking out six and walking one in seven innings.

Lovelady’s offense got started early when Mihyia Davis singled, stole second, went to third on an error and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Scout Lovell.

The Lady Lions went up 3-0 in the third on a two-RBI double by Haven Prager that scored Bailee Albinus and Lovell, who was intentionally walked.

In the fifth, Davis singled, stole second, went to third on a fly-out and scored on an error by the third baseman.

Morgan Womack led off the sixth by smashing a dinger to centerfield for Lovelady’s final run.

The Lady Lions racked up seven hits off three Groveton pitchers, who combined for three strikeouts and two walks.

Returning Friday, the Lady Lions put on a home run clinic as they delivered the final blow in an 11-2 victory.

By the end of the day, Lovelady had booked three round-trippers along with two triples and three doubles.

The Lady Lions batted first and it didn’t take long for the offensive fireworks to start.

Davis drilled the first pitch she saw to center field for a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Then Lovell homered on a line drive to center field to make it 2-0.

Lovelady plated three in the second for a 5-0 lead. LaRue’s single drove in Rylee Biedrzycki, who reached on an error. Gracie McMahon, courtesy runner for LaRue, went to second on a wild pitch, McMahon scored when Davis smoked a fly ball to right field for a two-run shot.

Womack sparked a four-run flurry in the fourth with a solo homer to center field. Shyanne Pipkin hit a two-RBI single to bring home Biedrzycki and Albinus. Pipkin scored on an error.

After Groveton got on the scoreboard in the fifth, the Lady Lions pushed across their final two runs in the sixth.

Lovell led off with a three-bagger and came home on an error. Prager, who reached on an error, scored on a sac bunt by Biedrzycki.

In the bottom of the sixth, Groveton’s Abby Lee homered on a line drive to center field.

LaRue went the distance in the circle. She surrendered two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

The Lady Lions collected 11 hits off two Groveton pitchers, who struck out seven and walked two.

Lovell, 3-for-4, fell just short of hitting for the cycle with a homer, triple and a double. Davis went 2-for-5 with a homer and triple.

Womack smacked a homer, while Prager and Biedrzycki each booked a double. Linda Martinez, LaRue and Pipkin each collected a single.

"Yesterday the girls just felt like they didn't execute the way they wanted to execute. So, this morning they worked really hard in the batting cage just making sure that they sit back and wait on the pitching that we haven't really seen very much lately. They did a really good job of executing. They sat back and waited on their pitches, stuff they could hit hard. They did what they needed to do," said Hester. "I'm just so proud of these girls because they worked so hard to get here."

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The Lovelady Lady Lions checked off another box on their banner  with a series sweep over Como-Pickton in the regional semi-finals last week in Tyler.  LARRY LAMB |  HCCThe Lovelady Lady Lions checked off another box on their banner with a series sweep over Como-Pickton in the regional semi-finals last week in Tyler. LARRY LAMB | HCC

By Larry Lamb
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TYLER -- It was business as usual for Lovelady's  softball team.

The Lady Lions continued their string of shutouts with a 10-0, 10-0 series sweep over the Como-Pickton Lady Eagles in the Class 2A regional semifinal.

The series opener Tuesday at Legacy High School went just five innings. Como-Pickton extended its season an inning longer in Game 2, which lasted six innings.

Lovelady pitcher Macie LaRue, who went the distance in both games, threw a one-hit shutout in both games. She recorded a total of 17 strikeouts in 11 innings and walked three in each game.

In Game 1, Lovelady jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first and continued to pull away with three in the second, two in the third and two in the fourth.

Batting 2-for-3 were  Scout Lovell, Mihyia Davis and Haven Prager, who hit a RBI triple in the second inning.

Morgan Womack went 2-for-2 while Rylee Biedrzycki, Shyanne Pipkin and Bailee Albinus each had a base hit. Lovell, Biedrzycki and Pipkin each collected two RBI.

Always-dangerous slugger Linda Martinez didn’t get a chance to bat as she was intentionally walked twice.

Como-Pickton pitcher Mattison Buster went four innings, surrendering 10 runs on 11 hits with five strikeouts and three walks.

Returning to Tyler on Thursday, the Lady Lions picked up where they had left off  and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first frame.

After intentionally walking Martinez the first time she stepped up to the plate, Como-Pickton decided to take their chances when she led off the third. After fouling off the first pitch from Buster, Martinez mashed a fly ball to left field that put Lovelady up 5-0.

After scoreless fourth and fifth frames, the Lady Lions scored five in the sixth.

With two runners in scoring position, Lovell hit a hard ground ball to third base to bring home Kenzie Seale and Albinus. Prager reached safely on a dropped third strike and Lovell scored to make it 8-0.

After Martinez singled, Womack hit a hard grounder and reached on an error by the second baseman.  Martinez scored and Prager came home on the same error for a 10-0 lead midway through the sixth.

Down to their final three outs, the Lady Eagles were unable to score and the game ended under the 10-run rule after six innings.

LaRue struck out the first batter and walked the next but the runner was caught stealing second on a throw from home by catcher Womack. LaRue sealed the win with a strikeout and the Lady Lions checked the regional semi-final championship off their to-do list.

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