The Orange Leader
PORT ARTHUR —
Down 2-1 and being the last at-bat, Cypress-Mauriceville’s Hope Russell was cool, calm and collected.
There was no way she was going to be denied and neither were her Lady Bear teammates.
Russell drilled a two-out, two-run double to centerfield, scoring Kassie James and Chelsea McLain as the Lady Bears rallied to topple District 20-4A rival Nederland 3-2 in the Class 4A Region III quarterfinals Friday at Port Arthur Memorial High School.
“There was no way I wasn’t going to hit that ball,” said Russell. “The Lord blessed me and blessed our team. We’ve said all season long that we weren’t going to be denied. Whew, I just couldn’t be happier for all of us. We’re moving on and that’s all we could’ve asked for.”
The Lady Bears (32-5) will now move on to the regional semifinals next week against either Santa Fe or Ridge Point.
The Lady Bulldogs jumped up 2-1 in the top of the sixth when sophomore Taylor Davis cranked a solo home run over the left-centerfield wall.
The Lady Bears then came up with the dramatics in the bottom of the seventh off Nederland reliever Tori Cooper.
Kassie James drew a leadoff walk but Cooper was able to record two straight outs. Chelsea McLain kept the LC-M hopes alive by beating out an infield single. Russell then came away with the game-winning walk-off double by slapping a Cooper offering to deep centerfield.
“First off, what a great hit Chelsea got right in front of me,” said Russell. “She’s ‘speedy’ and she did such an amazing job getting on. I struck out the first time (against Cooper) but I really got a good look at where she was throwing. It’s like, I just knew where that pitch was going to be and I just went for it. You’ve got to give credit to those Nederland girls, they played their tails off.”
The third time certainly wasn’t easy for the Lady Bears against their 20-4A rivals. LC-M defeated the Lady Bulldogs 7-1 and 6-1 in 20-4A play. First, the Lady Bears had to settle for a one-game series by losing the flip and then they had to face all of the weather issues Friday.
“This was what the playoffs are all about,” said LC-M coach Dena Adkins. “Those were two hard-nosed teams battling out there. It’s so darn tough beating a team three times like we had too. Nederland is a scrappy bunch. Our kids, what more can you say, have that will to win and they simply don’t want to be denied. They made me a nervous wreck, I can tell you that.”
And what about her ‘Cardiac Lady Bears’ in the bottom of the seventh?
“I knew we could get it done, you have to believe in what got you here,” said Adkins. “Kassie stayed away from some bad pitches and got on. Chelsea, what a ‘trooper’, she got down that first-base line in a flash and got on and Hope, what more can you say, saved the day and saved the season. Maybe it all means something and who would’ve thought the sun would’ve came out today. It sure shined on us today.”
The Lady Bulldogs certainly didn’t help themselves either Friday as they left 10 runners stranded on the basepaths.
Senior Raven Cole got the win on the LC-M hill again. She scattered eight hits while striking out six and walking two. The hurler shook off some illegal pitch accusations on numerous occasions by the Nederland faithful and she got key strikeouts and nice defense behind her to get out of a few rough patches.
“Raven, bless her, made some nice adjustments and really gutted it out today,” said Adkins. “Defensively, we made some key plays. I thought our outfield play was excellent. It’s not all about offense with this team. I know we scored a lot of runs in those first two playoff matchups but you’re going to need defense at some point and ours was great today.”
Makayla Kelly pitched the first four innings for Nederland, allowing four hits while fanning one and walking one. Cooper went 2 2/3 innings, allowing three hits while striking out four and walking three.
Nederland struck for a run in the top of the first inning.
Tori Cooper got hit by a Cole pitch leading off and moved to second on a Savanna Guidry sacrifice bunt.
Jensen Richard laced a RBI single up the middle to plate Cooper.
The Lady Bears tied things up in the bottom half of the first.
Mikaela Stegall slapped a leadoff single to left and went to second after a nice sacrifice bunt by Kayleigh Roy. With two outs, Cole drew a walk and Taylor Fraccastoro followed with a RBI double to left as Stegall easily beat the throw at the plate.