Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports

Polk County Sports

Lions advance with another one-run win

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

The Lions will advance to the regional quarterfinals. Photo by Brian BeschThe Lions will advance to the regional quarterfinals. Photo by Brian Besch

By Brian Besch
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lion baseball is giving fans their money’s worth in the playoffs, coming out on top of a 1-0 nailbiter Friday over the Tigers from Sealy in the area round.

The Livingston bats could not get going until the fourth inning, when Jordan Huson and Damian Ruiz started with a pair of singles and no one out. However, Sealy escaped from the inning unscathed, ending it on a double play.

“It is the small things. We made a few mistakes on the bases, but that was a great team over there,” Lion coach Jarrad Maddox said. “They got second place in their district. It is going to be tough like that all the way through, so we have to be prepared. I knew they would fight. They know how to compete; they are tough as nails and a blue-collar town.”

In the fifth, Livingston again threatened, as J.T. Smith singled and advanced a base when a pickoff bounced beyond the bag at first. Tay McNeal then slugged a single that was enough to bring in Smith ahead of a throw home, giving the Lions the only run of the game.

Ruiz was brilliant on the mound, allowing just a few baserunners. The only threat occurred when Sealy had a runner go from first to third on a ball hit to the wall in left. Smith made a good throw from the warning track to keep the Tigers scoreless.

“I knew they were very fundamental and they could hit the ball,” Ruiz said. “I trust my team enough to throw in the strike zone. I trust them to make plays like they did tonight. Coach told me to fill up the zone and force them to get hits.”

Ruiz said he felt more relaxed on the mound this week. Part of that, he said, was a more comfortable pair of shoes that he was able to wear on the playing surface at Cypress Woods High School.

In the top of the seventh with one out, a throw from an infielder got past first baseman Cody Patranella and the baserunner made the turn for second. Lion catcher Huson was backing up the play and threw the runner out at second from just in front of the visiting dugout.

The final out came on a pop fly to left field that Smith squeezed for a Livingston victory.

“That is too close for comfort right there,” Maddox said. “Every time you get in the playoffs, it is going to be tough. You’ve got to scrap all the way through. Hopefully, it is not like that next round.”

It is the second week in a row that the Lions have won a low-scoring, one-run contest. They had a come-from-behind triumph last week versus Vidor in a 3-2 game.

As of press time, the next round’s opponent was yet to be decided, but Orangefield run-ruled Navasota in the opening game of a best-of-three series.

“Orangefield has pitching and they are sound like them (Sealy), so it is going to be tough,” Maddox said.

  • Hits: 989

Getting it done in last at-bat

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Lion pitcher Damian Ruiz tossed seven innings of two-run baseball to pick up the win.Lion pitcher Damian Ruiz tossed seven innings of two-run baseball to pick up the win.

By  Brian Besch

The final inning provided drama and a game-winning hit in Livingston’s Friday night bi-district matchup, as the Lions escaped with a 3-2 victory over Vidor.

With the contest tied 1-1 in the top of the seventh, Vidor took the lead and momentum, starting with a walk and sacrifice bunt. A double brought in the go-ahead run for a 2-1 advantage.

With the bottom of the lineup due in the Lions’ final opportunity, Livingston coach Jarrad Maddox opted for a pinch-hitter. Sophomore Copeland Bush got the call and reached base with an infield single.

Copeland Bush would soon advance on a wild pitch. Jordan Bush took a base on balls and another wild pitch would put both into scoring position with no one out. Tay McNeal was hit by a pitch to load the bases and bring up Gage Morris.

The junior had a good night at the plate, getting Livingston started in the first inning, but his final at-bat will be the one he remembers.

“I was up there and the umpire called the first one high and I didn’t like it,” Morris said. “On the second one, I was kind of chancing it. I had seen curveballs and was looking for a fastball. He threw me that curveball again and I just had to put it in play – just hit it somewhere in play and we have got to score just one. It was right over the second baseman’s head and I knew right then the game was over. I was like, ‘This is it; we are going to the next round.’

The shortstop described the celebration with his teammates at second base.

“I got jumped on, but man, it was great. It felt good. There is a first time for everything and that is my first walk-off hit. That is probably the biggest hit of my life. I was up there excited and nervous at the same time and was like, ‘Just hit it in play,’ and I got it done.”

The Texas Leaguer was a few feet out of the reach of the Pirate second baseman, allowing two to score and setting off the Livingston festivities.

“I knew Vidor had a couple of really good arms. I was very confident in Damian and his ability,” Maddox said. “I just had a hunch and went with Copeland Bush to pinch hit to get on base and use his athletic ability to lead off. It only takes one and we got it.

“Vidor has been hot in the second half of the season; they were the hottest team in their district. They won the most games in their district in the second half of the season. They snuck in and played hot and I knew it was going to be a tough series.”

Those who reached Crosby after the game started likely missed most of the offense until the end of the game. The Pirates put a run on the board in the first frame with a runner on, as a double that bounced to the wall made it 1-0.

Livingston answered in the bottom half of the inning, as the leadoff hitter Morris doubled. A sacrifice grounder by Jordan Huson pushed the runner to third and a single from Josh Smith made it a tie game.

Barring an upset, the next opponent will be the Sealy Tigers. They were second-place finishers of District 24-4A, two games behind champion Bellville.

“We will move on and we are probably playing Sealy,” the coach said.

“We will see where it goes from there. I know that they are very athletic. They don’t have the arms that Vidor does, but they are athletic and it’s going to be another tough matchup.”

  • Hits: 998

Lady Cats end season bi-district finalists

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Lauryn Hoffman awaits the relay from right field.Lauryn Hoffman awaits the relay from right field.

By Brian Besch
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Big Sandy softball season ended Friday in the bi-district round of the UIL playoffs, on the wrong end of a 17-0 final versus Woden.

The Lady Eagles wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, putting up two runs in the first. Walks were an early problem for Big Sandy, as four in the inning loaded the bags. A bunt single brought in the first run, while a sacrifice fly scored the next.

Wild pitches, passed balls and a few errors allowed for six more runs in the second, effectively ending the competition.

“We knew coming into it that this team was the real deal,” Big Sandy coach Mark Young said. “They were tied for first in district up until the last game and wound up getting second (to West Sabine), losing 2-1. We knew their pitching was really good and that was proven here today. They are one of those teams that capitalizes on every opportunity. We lost a couple of players to this, that and the other, which really hurt us. I hope that those players see that and see what it did to this team. I hope we can come back stronger.”

The Lady Cats had their best stretch near the end of the contest, holding Woden to just one run in the bottom of the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Lauryn Hoffman reached with an infield single and Madison Gardner pushed her over with a fielder’s choice. Hoffman then stole third and Anastasia Chitty walked.

This year’s seniors include Dallas Holder, Chloe Cox, Michaela McGallion, Olivia Laird, Taylor Weatherford and Madison Gardner.

“We had a really good group of seniors, with not a whole lot of experience in that group,” Young said. “It is just one of those groups that responds to coaching and is willing teach the younger kids and help them out. They have good attitudes and will do anything that I say. That is just fun to coach. I have a few younger ones that are coming up, but those are going to be tough spots to fill. In the outfield, I’m losing three. It was a struggle just to make it here. We had to beat out Evadale the second time we played them. We wound up doing that and playing well, and that is a testament to them.”

  • Hits: 638

Saving best for last

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Sports 0424

By Brian Besch
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lady Lion softball waited until the final inning to score, providing a dramatic 2-1 win over Shepherd Friday night in Livingston.

In the bottom of the seventh, Shelby Dickerson tripled when the ball bounced past Lady Pirate outfielders. With one out, Bailey Bass grounded into a fielder’s choice, but an errant throw allowed Dickerson to score and Bass to reach safely and tie the contest at 1-1.

“She’s a freshman and I pulled her up halfway through the season on varsity,” Livingston coach Heather Mosser said of Dickerson, who entered the game in the fifth inning. “She came through in a big way. It’s awesome for her and it is a great look to the future. I was playing her both ways this year because there are some teams we have played that don’t have a J.V. team. The last time we played Shepherd, I think she fielded every ball that was hit to her and she never wavered. She comes in clutch at the plate at times, so the future is bright for her.”

A wild pitch then permitted Bass to third base. Janae Bland hit a pop up to left field, where no one could make a play. Bass scored easily and the Lady Lions celebrated the win.

“I’ve seen these kids play all year. I’ve learned not to give up on them, and I never do,” Mosser said. “It was a little rough at times, but I figured it would fall at some point. It did. We kept playing and we kept our heads up and just kept working.”

Both teams threatened in a few different innings, but only Shepherd could reach home plate until late, doing so once in the third inning. Brooklynn McCumber tripled and Kaylee Barlow brought her in with an RBI-single to make it a 1-0 game.

Allison Lytle started the game in the circle for the Lady Lions and went 4.1 innings, giving up just one run. She struck out four and gave up just three hits. However, she ran into trouble in the top of the fifth. With two runners in scoring position, Jaycee Knighton came on in relief and did not allow a run, keeping the game at 1-0. She was impressive over 2.2 innings, allowing just one Shepherd baserunner on a walk while striking out five.

“Both of my pitchers can throw, it is just up to my defense whether we are going to make a play,” the coach said. “That has been a struggle for us, which is why as soon as we got into a little bit of trouble, I felt like it was time to mae a change. At the same time, our offense has to play too. I really have faith in that, but we are really going to have to buckle down and make sure every aspect of our game is tight moving forward.”

Shepherd hurler Barlow threw 6.1 impressive innings, taking an undeserved loss. She struck out six and walked just one, scattering seven hits. Only one of the two Livingston runs was earned.

The Lady Lions will now prepare for a play-in game versus Hardin-Jefferson at a neutral site to decide the final postseason slot in District 21-4A.

“We split with Hardin-Jefferson on the season and we have the same record right now, so we are tied with them for fourth. Monday, we will play at Splendora at 5:30 p.m. for that fourth seed. We beat them 4-0 in the beginning of the year and then in our second game, they beat us 13-12 in the seventh. I think that we are the better team. Of course, I am always going to say that, but we have to play. We are definitely going to have to play better than we did tonight, for sure.”

  • Hits: 584

Roller coaster ride into playoffs

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Kalli Saucier tries to get the tag on a Tarkington runner taking third. PHOTO BY BRIAN BESCHKalli Saucier tries to get the tag on a Tarkington runner taking third. PHOTO BY BRIAN BESCH

By Brian Besch

Onalaska softball won a back and-forth thriller Thursday 10-9 over Tarkington in extra innings to clinch a playoff berth for the second consecutive year.

The three-hour marathon went nine innings before deciding a victor. Both teams had multiple opportunities to take the contest, but a wild couple of extra innings played under two sets of rules provided a conclusion.

Tied at 2-2 in the fifth inning, Tarkington seemed to take a commanding lead with three runs. The final two came on an outfield error, but the relay was in time at home to get a potential third, keeping the game at 5-2. The outfield mishap was a problem early on, as the Lady Horns scored their first two runs the same way.

Onalaska answered in the bottom half of that inning, beginning with a Madison Wilson bunt and stolen base. Kaitlyn Wilson was walked intentionally and Kenadi Houser reached on error, causing a run to score. Mary Joy Carriaga was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with two outs. Kalli Saucier walked to drive in a run and Savanna Benningfield brought in two with a double to take a 6-5 advantage.

Tarkington scored two more in the top half of the sixth to take another slim lead.

Kaitlyn Wilson got the bottom half of the sixth started with an intentional free pass. Houser beat out an infield single and Carriaga drove in a run on a Texas Leaguer that found a patch of green grass, knotting the score at sevens.

A theme had developed in the game, as neither offense would be retired quietly. In the seventh, the Lady Horns again took a lead on a double down the line in left field, scoring a runner from first to go up 8-7.

To add a little drama, the Lady Cats waited until there were two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to get the offense moving. Madison Wilson was a catalyst all night for Onalaska. She singled and stole a base. When the throw to second trickled into center field, Wilson sprinted around the bags. A few more would reach and a Houser drive was snagged off balance in right field, sending the match into extra frames.

The eighth inning was played by starting a runner at second base, similar to new Major League Baseball rules. A double would be more than enough to score the ninth run for Tarkington.

“I didn’t know what happened and I was trying to find out,” Onalaska coach Ashley Sustaita said of the unexplained rule change. “They couldn’t give me an answer and apparently it is something they had done at Coldspring. My (athletic director) looked all through the handbook and it is not in there, so, no idea.”

Sacrifices from Carriaga and Saucier got Houser past a throw home to tie the game and force a ninth inning.

Playing once more under traditional rules and starting with the bases clear, Tarkington loaded them, but was held without a run.

Onalaska’s Mattie Sootoo, a pinch hitter from a few innings prior, started the bottom of the ninth by reaching on error and stealing second base soon after. That set up Madison Wilson, who made hard contact. The ball was misplayed and Sootoo slid into home to begin a celebration.

“This is what you try for; it’s not even about the win,” Sustaita said. “There were so many things that go on in the dugout that spectators don’t even see that lead to these kind of moments. We could have lost and still felt good. That is – as coaches – all you want. You want your kids to be in an unselfish environment and fearless. When you have that, magic happens. We had kids that stepped up to the plate like Sootoo, who is a senior move-in that never batted. She steps up and does what she needs to do. We had our key kids getting walked intentionally, so big moments show up for other kids.”

The Wilsons were also responsible for the first two Lady Cat runs, with Madison scoring on Kaitlyn’s sacrifice fly in the first. Kaitlyn smacked a solo home run in the second. She  would be intentionally walked for the remainder of the game.

Onalaska moves ahead of Tarkington for fourth place in the district. If they can upset New Waverly, they will have a chance at third. For now, however, they have earned a spot in the postseason.

“We beat some really good teams early on in the season, but playing like this the way that we are, we can beat anybody in the first round. We just have to have the right pieces clicking at the right time.”

  • Hits: 739