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Lovelady steamrolls Como-Pickton

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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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MU track and field signs Lovelady's Pipkin

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Shyanne Pipkin, pictured with mother Beth Pipkin, signs a letter of intent with Midland University (Nebraska) during a ceremony Tuesday, May 17. A bevy of track and field medals that Pipkin earned during her high school career are draped over the signing table.  LARRY LAMB | HCCShyanne Pipkin, pictured with mother Beth Pipkin, signs a letter of intent with Midland University (Nebraska) during a ceremony Tuesday, May 17. A bevy of track and field medals that Pipkin earned during her high school career are draped over the signing table. LARRY LAMB | HCC

By Larry Lamb
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LOVELADY – Midland University in Nebraska bolstered its women’s track and field roster by recruiting Lovelady senior Shyanne Pipkin.

Pipkin made her college decision official during a signing ceremony Tuesday, May 17 in the LHS gym.

Midland University is part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). MU is located in Fremont, a city of 26,000 in eastern Nebraska.

Pipkin said Midland’s track coach primarily wants her to compete in high jump and 400-meter dash but they will discuss utilizing her in other events.

Pipkin, a multi-sport standout, was still receiving scholarship offers in various sports on the day she was planning to sign with Midland.

Jacksonville College was interested in Pipkin for its cross-country team while Ranger College and Oklahoma Wesleyan University were both eyeing her as a  basketball prospect.

“I went and practiced for those colleges, but I just felt like Nebraska was my place. I thought I’d fit in very well there,” said the future MU Warrior.

“Midland's men’s program is really good but the women’s program has great potential with some good people coming up. I’m excited to be a part of something that’s going to be successful,” she said.

At Lovelady, Pipkin was a regional qualifier in high jump the past two seasons. She didn’t have a chance to compete during her sophomore year when the UIL cancelled the season due to the pandemic. As a freshman she advanced to the area track and field meet on the 4x200 relay team. Pipkin was a regional qualifier in cross country the past three seasons.

Pipkin will have to adjust to living in a colder climate. “I’ll be dressing with a lot of clothing. I’ll probably wear a blanket everywhere,” she said.

Fortunately, the indoor track and field season runs December through mid-February, so Pipkin will escape outside competition during those months. The outdoor season begins in mid-March and concludes in May.

In addition to playing volleyball, Pipkin has been involved in cheer and is a member of the Lady Lions softball team that is playing in the regional final.

She earned Academic All-District honors in basketball.  Outside of athletics, Pipkin is a member of the National Honor Society and FFA.

Pipkin plans to major in agribusiness but she has not decided what career path she wants to pursue.

Lovelady head track coach Will Kirchhoff said MU "found a gem" with Pipkin’s versatility, work ethic and selflessness. "Those are qualities that make her valuable to an athletic program," he added.

Kirchhoff joined LISD when Pipkin was in eighth grade and has watched her progress the past five years.

“She’s a unique track athlete because she’s so versatile. She’s been a regional qualifier in everything from the 800 to the mile to the high jump. This year she triple jumped for us as well as running the mile relay and the quarter.  There’s not really anything she can’t do and she’s such a team player. Whatever we need her to do, she’s worked her butt off to make sure the team is first and she’s going to score points at the district and area track meets. Over the past few years she’s been a huge part in our winning the district title and back-to-back area championships,” said the coach.

Just as she has done at Lovelady, Pipkin will be a scoring threat for MU in multiple events at conference meets.

"She has so many tools on the table whether they choose to use her as a heptathlete where she can cover seven events and be a multi-event athlete or if they want her as a middle distance or true distance runner," said Kirchhoff. "She provides a lot of flexibility as one of those glue guys that can always fill in a spot. She is going to do her best to achieve whatever she can in that event and get you points. " 

Pipkin possesses a top-notch work ethic, said Kirchhoff.

“She’s going to be the hardest working person. Day in and day out. She’s going to show up early and leave late and make sure that the team is always first. What makes her such a special kid is because she is one of the most selfless humans I’ve ever been around. I couldn’t think of a better kid to get this opportunity than Shyanne. We’re excited to see all the things she’s going to accomplish,” he continued.

Pipkin competed in five track and field events her senior year, the maximum allowed by the UIL. She competed in high jump, triple jump, 800 run, mile run and mile relay and scored points in every event, in addition to being an area qualifier in all five.

“We couldn’t ask for a better role model for our young kids to see that hard work pays off, especially today when she’s taking this step to compete at the next level. She’s a perfect citizen in the classroom, in the hallways and on the field,” Kirchhoff said.

Midland University will be competing in three Texas meets next year at Abilene Christian, University of Houston and Texas Southern, so her friends and family won't have to travel to Nebraska to watch her compete.

Pipkin’s advice to aspiring athletes is, ”Follow your heart. Go with what your heart wants you to do because it’s going to be the best thing for you.”

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Thorndale ends Latexo's run

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Latexo's softball season came to end with a two-game loss to Thorndale in the regional quarterfinals.

Playing the series opener in Madisonville on Thursday, Thorndale eked out a 1-0 win in eight innings.

With two outs and two runners on base, Thorndale hit a walk-off single to take the series opener.

Latexo stranded two runners in scoring position in the sixth after a leadoff walk by Katy Allen, a sacrifice bunt by Natalie Nicol and a double by Malley Moore.

Starting pitcher Lauren Woodard allowed no runs on seven hits over six innings. She struck out two and walked one.

Allen threw 1 2/3 third innings in relief, giving up one run on five hits with two strikeouts and no walks.

The series moved to Mumford on Friday for Game 2, which Thorndale won 12-2.

The Lady Tigers found themselves in a deep hole early. Thorndale smashed a pair of two-run homers in the first two frames to take a 6-0 lead and pushed across four in the fourth. 

Baylee Omelina gave the Lady Tigers a glimmer of hope in the fourth when she belted a two-run shot to center field that scored Moore.

The Lady Dogs tacked on two more runs in the fifth and held Latexo scoreless to end the game.

Woodard pitched 2 1/3 innings and gave up five runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Taylor Dise worked 2/3 inning and gave up three runs on four hits with no strikeouts and no walks. Allen went two innings, allowing four runs on five hits, no strikeouts and one walk.

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Late-innings sizzle propels Kennard to third round

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The home plate umpire calls Nick Dowdy safe as he comes home on a passed ball in the sixth inning Saturday.  LARRY LAMB | HCCThe home plate umpire calls Nick Dowdy safe as he comes home on a passed ball in the sixth inning Saturday. LARRY LAMB | HCC

By Larry Lamb
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NACOGDOCHES – The Kennard Tigers exploded for six runs in the seventh inning of Game 1 and seven in the sixth inning of Game 2 to sweep a best-of-three area round series over Chireno.

The  No. 5 ranked Tigers (20-12) won 11-3 on Thursday night and 10-3 on Saturday afternoon.

Chireno kept itself in both games until late. The Owls only trailed the Tigers 5-3 after six innings in the series opener and were tied 3-3 after five innings in the second game.

In Game 1, Kennard scored two in the first and two in the fourth to grab a 4-0 lead.

The Tigers struck early after a leadoff triple by Jaden Kulms, who scored on a passed ball. Caleb Alfred singled, stole second and third, and scored on a passed ball.

With one out in the fourth, Elijah Dowdy hit a line-drive single to center field and advanced to third on an error by the pitcher. After Tristan Burgess drew a two-out walk, Nick Dowdy drove in Elijah Dowdy and Burgess scored on the throw for a 4-0 lead

Chireno got back in the game in the bottom of the fourth with a pair of RBI singles. A third run scored on an error, closing the gap to 4-3.

The Tigers picked up a run in the sixth when Keyton Lumbreraz walked, stole second, advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a passed ball.

Kennard fans started breathing a little easier as the seventh-inning onslaught progressed.

Kulms hit a one-out single, stole second and third, and scored on a base hit by Dylan Cole.

Cole stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and stole home. After Ryan Pilkington walked and Lumbreraz singled, Elijah Dowdy drove in a pair runs for a 9-3 lead.

With bases loaded after Adrian Montero singled and Burgess walked, Nick Dowdy was hit by pitch to bring in Kennard's final run.

The Tigers were aggressive on the base paths with 11 steals. Alfred, Burgess,Cole and Kulms swiped two apiece while Lumbreraz, Miller and Pilkington each had one.

Cole recorded the complete game victory, giving up three runs on four hits with 14 strikeouts and two walks.

"Dylan threw his butt off. He got ahead early. Seventy-five percent of the time when you get ahead of the batter you're going to get him out. That's what helped us out in the first game," said Tigers head coach Blake Wallace. "They found some barrels here and there, but we were able to keep our composure and hit the ball to where they weren't."

The Tigers collected 11 hits. Kulms was 3-for-5 with a triple while Alfred and Elijah Dowdy each collected two base hits.

Cole, Lumbreraz, Montero and Nick Dowdy each booked a hit while Burgess got on base with three walks.

Game 2 on Saturday was tied 3-3 midway in the sixth.

"The biggest factor was keeping our cool in the face of adversity. The score stood at 3-3 for a long time. But if you do things the right way things are eventually going to turn around for you and I think that's what happened today," Wallace said after the Tigers won Game 2 to clinch the series.

The Tigers scored three runs in the second inning. Kennard got on the scoreboard when Lumbreraz doubled home Pilkington, who had a leadoff double. Lumbreraz scored when Montero hit a ground ball and reached on an error. Montero scored on a bunt single by Nick Dowdy.

The Owls tied it up 3-3 in the top of the fourth on a two-RBI double and a passed ball run.

The stalemate continued until the bottom of the sixth when Kennard opened the floodgates with a two-out rally.

With two runners aboard on walks, Burgess scored to put Kennard in front when Kulms hit a pop fly and reached on an error by the pitcher.

After Caleb Alfred was hit by pitch, Nick Dowdy scored on a passed ball, Kulms came home on a balk and Alfred scored on a passed ball to make it 7-3.

The Tigers pushed across two more runs on three consecutive triples by Cole, Pilkington and Lumbreraz, who came home on another balk.

Kulms recorded the pitching win, allowing four hits and three runs over 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks.

Pilkington took the mound with two outs in the seventh and closed the game with a strikeout

The Tigers collected 10 hits off three Chireno pitchers, who combined for four strikeouts and four walks.

Lumbreraz had three hits while Montero and Pilkington logged two apiece. Lumbreraz and Pilkington both booked a double and a triple.

Collecting one hit each were Nick Dowdy, Elijah Dowdy and Cole, who had a triple.

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Lady Lions dominate Beckville

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Lovelady's Bailee Albinus dives across home plate Saturday in Game 2 of the playoff series against Beckville.  LARRY LAMB |  HCCLovelady's Bailee Albinus dives across home plate Saturday in Game 2 of the playoff series against Beckville. LARRY LAMB | HCC

By Larry Lamb
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RUSK – The Lovelady Lady Lions softball team chalked up two more shutouts and swept Beckville 12-0 and 13-0 in a best-of-three regional quarterfinal series.

Macie LaRue pitched 12 scoreless innings in the series, giving up a total of two hits with 21 strikeouts and one walk.

The Lady Lions played error-free in both games while Beckville was plagued with 11 miscues in the field.

Lovelady has posted shutouts in five of its six playoff wins. Shelbyville managed to score three runs on the Lady Lions in the bi-district round.

In Game 1 last Wednesday, the Lady Lions scored in every inning and Macie LaRue pitched a one-hitter in a five-inning shutout. LaRue struck out eight and walked none of the 16 batters she faced.

Lovelady scored three in the first inning. After Mihyia Davis and Haven Prager both scored on wild pitches, Linda Martinez came home when LaRue reached on an error by the shortstop.

Beckville’s leadoff batter in the second managed to collect the only hit off LaRue, who fanned the next three batters.

Lovelady went up 7-0 in the second. Davis singled, stole second and third, and scored on an error by the third baseman.

With two outs, Prager drilled a shot over the second baseman’s head for a single, stole second and scored on a base hit by Martinez. After Rylee Biedrzycki singled, Martinez scored on a wild pitch. Biedrzycki went to third on the same pitch and came home when LaRue poked a ground ball single to right field.

The Lady Lions resumed their scoring frenzy in the third.

Albinus led off with a bunt single, stole second and went to third on a one-out single by Davis, who went 4-for-4. With With two outs and two runners aboard, Prager belted a three-run bomb over the center field fence to score Albinus and Davis for a 10-0 lead.

Lovelady tallied its final two runs in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out rally. Scout Lovell hit a two-RBI single after Pipkin and Davis both got aboard on bunt singles.

Lovelady collected a total of 14 hits off pitchers Bethany Grandgeorge and Reese Dudley.

With several Lady Lions competing in the state track and field meet Friday in Austin, the series resumed Saturday.

Lovelady led 4-0 after two innings but was held scoreless over the next three innings.

The Lady Lions put the game away with nine runs in the last two frames to clinch the series.

LaRue recorded another gem in the pitcher's circle, allowing no runs and one hit with 13 strikeouts and one walk in seven innings.

Beckville's only hit was a triple in the third by Dudley.

Lovelady collected 13 hits off pitcher Reese Dudley, who struck out nine and walked six.

Martinez and Davis both batted 3-for-5 while Morgan Womack, Biedrzycki and LaRue had two hits apiece. Lovell had one hit, an RBI double in the first that put Lovelady on the scoreboard.

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