Orangefield Bobcats win on walk off homerun, Lady Cardinals lose a tough one
Last updated 5/17/2022 at 9:54pm
The state playoffs in baseball and softball saw dramatic results for the two remaining Orange County teams last week. Both teams had their playoff series conclude in walk-off fashion.
The Orangefield Bobcats advanced to the third round of the baseball post season sweeping the Navasota Rattlers. The Bridge City Lady Cardinals were eliminated in the third round of their softball title chase losing to the defending state champion Liberty Lady Panthers in the third contest of a very tight best of three game series.
The Bobcats have won all four of their playoff games in the first two series of the post season. Orangefield has outscored its two opponents 29-11 in the four victories.
Game 1 of the Area Round between Orangefield and Navasota started close before becoming a Bobcat blowout. Orangefield scored a decisive 12-1 win in the opener over the Rattlers.
After Orangefield tallied a run in the top of the first, Navasota put three straight hits together with two outs to tally the tying run off of Bobcat starter Coop Longron in the bottom half of the inning. Things went downhill from there for the Rattlers.
Longron pitched superb after that initial lapse in the first and limited the Rattlers to just a couple of base runners the remainder of the game. Longron remained undefeated on the season as a Bobcat pitcher.
The Bobcat bats pounded the Navasota starter Drew Gonzales scoring runs in every inning except the third. Orangefield got three runs in the second starting with a single from Caleb Fregia followed by a triple by Kameryn Henderson.
Tyler Shearin and Kyle Michael singled in runs to build the lead to 4-1 for the Bobcats.
Two runs were added in the fourth and two more were tacked on in the fifth as Kolbie Sowell and Jason Bodin scored on rbis by Brennon Lecoq and Trent Eaves. The Bobcats scored two runs in each of the final two innings to reach the final score of 12-1 for Orangefield.
The second game started like the first one ended with Orangefield scoring two runs in the bottom half of the first inning. Henderson led off with a single, Shearin reached on an error which allowed Kameryn to score the first run. Shearin came home on a ground out by Kolbie Sowell.
Trent Eaves started on the mound for Orangefield and escaped the first inning scoreless despite two hits by the Rattlers. A two-base error in the second though led to a run for Navasota to make the score 2-1.
Orangefield got that run back in the third as Caleb Fregia opened the inning with a double down the right field line. A bunt single by Henderson moved Fregia to third from where he scored on a ground out by Kyle Michael.
Through five innings Eaves was pitching masterfully. He gave up just the one unearned run in the second, surrendering five hits, issuing a single walk, and striking out seven Rattlers.
Things changed in the top of the sixth when John Lee singled and Cameron Quezada walked to start the inning. Eaves appeared to have the situation under control when following a sacrifice bunt he struck out Treylan Garcia for the second out.
Even a walk to Camden Dacus was not a big problem setting up a force play at any base which would have ended the inning. Trouble came when Jaden Fox hit a soft liner to center that the Bobcats' Henderson dove for but could not make the catch as the ball bounced away. Three Rattlers scored to give Navasota a 4-3 lead.
A walk to the next Navasota batter ended the day for Eaves. Jason Bodin took the mound for Orangefield to face Devin Nunez who lined a rocket off the right field fence to drive home both Rattler runners before being tagged out at third when he over slid the bag. The damage had been done as Navasota led 6-3 after the five-run outburst.
Things remained bleak for the Bobcats in the bottom half of the sixth as Michael missed an extra base hit by inches as the ball curved just foul before he grounded back to the pitcher for the first out. Sowell doubled to right center but was stranded there as the sixth came to an end.
Navasota threatened to add to its lead in the seventh loading the bases on three walks. Bodin struck out Garcia and Dacus to keep the Rattler lead at three.
Rattler pitcher Cade Richards was trying for a complete game win for Navasota to force a third game. Richards retired the first Bobcat batter in the seventh.
Morgan Sampson pinch hit for Orangefield delivering a key base hit and Cameron Dearing ran for him. Fregia the number nine hitter in the batting order for the Bobcats singled to right for his third hit of the game to score Dearing who went to second previously on a balk. Fregia went to second when the right fielder misplayed the ball on his single.
Henderson was hit by a pitch. Shearin then grounded to the shortstop for what might have been a game ending double play, but it bounced away for an error loading the bases with Bobcats. Michael hit a sacrifice fly to center to cut the deficit to 6-5 with two outs.
Sowell was the next Bobcat to step to the plate. Sowell connected with a pitch hitting the ball high and deep to left field which sailed over the 356-foot sign on the fence for a climatic end to Orangefield's five-run rally in the seventh and give the Bobcats an 8-6 victory for the sweep in their playoff with Navasota.
Coach Tim Erickson was obviously thrilled with the walk-off win. "We gave up a five spot in the sixth inning, and we told them after that we've got six outs to score three runs to tie it up, stuff we've been doing all year, and it wasn't out of reach. They stayed in it, had some good at bats that last inning, and we got the right man at the plate at the right time," Erickson exclaimed.
The Orangefield Bobcats will play the Livingston Lions in the next round and the series will be a best of three again. Game 1 will be Thursday at 7:00 PM in Port Neches-Groves. The second game is scheduled for Friday in Cleveland at 7:00 PM. The third game if necessary would be played on Saturday at 4:00 PM also in Cleveland.
The Bridge City Lady Cardinals were eliminated from the state playoffs last season in the opening round by Liberty the eventual state champions. Last year's loss against the Lady Panthers served as motivation for the Lady Cardinals in this year's matchup.
Two sophomores were the key players for the two teams. Pitchers Carson Fall of Bridge City and Kamdyn Chandler for Liberty would duel throughout the three games.
Fall who was named the District 22-4A MVP last week was stellar for the Lady Cardinals in the first game of the series on Thursday shutting out Liberty 4-0 and not allowing a hit until the sixth. Fall only gave up two hits, walked one, and struck out 14 Lady Panthers.
Lady Cardinal Coach Raven Harris said Carson Fall had a goal to avenge the loss to Liberty last year. "She wanted redemption from last season when Liberty knocked us out in the first round. She's had this whole different demeanor about her this week. She got out there, she did her job, and she did it well," Harris indicated.
Liberty's Chandler matched Fall for the first two innings striking out five of the first seven Lady Cardinals she faced. Bridge City took the lead in the third.
With one out Nicole Sasser was hit by a pitch, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch. Lady Cardinal Makenna Carey singled to right to drive in Sasser with the first run.
Kaylyn Dosch singled Carey to third. Dosch stole second base and Carey raced home with another run completing a double steal for the Lady Cardinals.
The rally continued as Brookly Droddy was hit by a pitch. Fall then helped her own cause with a single to score Dosch with the third Bridge City run of the inning for a 3-0 lead.
The Lady Cardinals got an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Sasser singled to start the inning and went to third on a base hit by Amaris Larkin that was bobbled by the Liberty centerfielder.
Liberty's pitcher Chandler retired the next two Lady Cardinals. Droddy delivered driving in Sasser with a hit on which Larkin tried to score but was tagged out at the plate to end the inning with Bridge City up 4-0 going to the bottom of the seventh.
The first two Lady Panthers in the seventh were struck out by Fall before Hollie Thomas singled to center for only the second ball hit out of the infield by Liberty the other being a fly out to left in the fifth. A ground ball to shortstop Marlie Strong for an unassisted force out at second base finished the shutout win for Bridge City.
Coach Harris was proud of the efforts from all the Lady Cardinals. "We played defense behind Carson, that's all I can ask for. The girls did their jobs, they got runners on base, we moved them, and that's all that we worked on this week be productive and do your job," Harris evaluated.
The second game saw a reversal for the two teams. Kamdyn Chandler pitched a shutout for Liberty while the Lady Panthers scratched out four runs aided by errors from the Lady Cardinals for a 4-0 win to even the series and force a deciding third game.
The third contest in three days may have affected the speed the two pitchers were able to put on their fast balls. Carson Fall struck out six Lady Panthers and Chandler registered five strikeouts against Bridge City.
As they did in the first game the Lady Cardinals opened the scoring in the third inning. Amaris Larkin got a one-out single and then stole second base.
Kaylyn Dosch hit a grounder to shortstop that was bobbled allowing Dosch to beat the throw to first base as Larkin moved to third. Freshman Brooklyn Droddy came through with a clutch two-out single to center that scored Larkin to give the Lady Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
The score remained 1-0 as Bridge City threatened to add a run in the fifth but had a runner picked off at third base to end the inning. Liberty left a runner at third in both the fifth and the sixth innings as Fall continued her bid for another shutout.
The bottom of the seventh began with Fall striking out the first Liberty batter. Bridge City was only two outs away from advancing to the next round.
The Lady Panthers showed great bat control all day with slap hits and bunts which continued as the next three batters each singled with hits just out of the reach of the Lady Cardinal fielders. Victory was within the Lady Cardinals' grasp but they could not hold on to it.
With the bases loaded Fall had a pitch go over catcher Kaylyn Dosch who retrieved the ball quickly and tossed to Fall covering the plate. Fall tagged the Liberty runner coming from third, the umpire signaled out, and then safe when the ball trickled loose allowing the tying run to score.
Lady Panthers were at second and third when Hollie Thomas hit an infield popup. The ball landed in the glove of second baseman Makenna Carey and dropped out as Bailee Slack raced home with the winning run for Liberty.
There was remorse and pride for Coach Harris on how her Lady Cardinals played on Saturday. "It feels good even though it did not work out the way we wanted it to. I'm extremely proud of these girls and the fight that they put up. The heart that they had. They came out here, they wanted to play, and it just came down to a couple of plays here or there," Harris concluded.
The selections for the All-District Team for softball in District 22-4A were released last week by the district coaches. Local teams were well represented.
Bridge City's Carson Fall was the District MVP and is only a sophomore. Freshman Keylie Washburn of Little Cypress-Mauriceville was chosen the Offensive MVP. Senior Cami Shugart with Little Cypress-Mauriceville was named the Defensive MVP for her excellent work as the Lady Bears' primary pitcher.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville also provided the Newcomer of the Year with freshman Lexi Moss. Raven Harris of the undefeated district champion Bridge City Lady Cardinals was selected Coach of the Year.
First Team All-District honors went to Harleigh Rawls and Joli Ponfick of Orangefield, Kaylyn Dosch, Nicole Sasser, and Haley Munoz with Bridge City, and Rhylan Wilson of Little Cypress-Mauriceville.
Second Team All-District selections were Marlie Strong for Bridge City, Little Cypress-Mauriceville's Ansley Moore and Ava Wright, Orangefield's Abigail Curphey, Greenlea Oldham, and Rylee Dougay, and West Orange-Stark's T'Era Garrett and Laila Rhodes.
Honorable Mention was given to Bridge City's Brookly Droddy, Makenna Carey, and Hannah Murchison, Little Cypress-Mauriceville's Shae Fontenot, Jacelyn Cook, and Jillian Brown, Orangefield's Madison Hughes, and West Orange-Stark's Katie Hogg, Laila Mims, and Paris Overstreet.
With the Orangefield Bobcats still alive in the post season the District 22-4A selections for All-District were released Friday. Coach Tim Erickson of Orangefield was named the Coach of the Year.
Bridge City pitcher Ethan Oceguera was chosen the District MVP. The Offensive MVP was Kyle Michael for Orangefield. Parker Seago of Little Cypress-Mauriceville was selected the Newcomer of the Year.
First Team All-District honorees were Ashton Landry and Gage Griffith of Little Cypress-Mauriceville and Coop Longron, Kolbie Sowell, and Kameryn Henderson with Orangefield.
Second Team All-District selections were Bridge City's Justin Abate and Braylen Collins, Little Cypress-Mauriceville's Dean Reynolds, and Orangefield's Trent Eaves and Jason Bodin.
Honorable Mention was given to Landon Reeves, John Van Huis, and Dane Woolwine for Bridge City, Marco Bandiero, Pierce Brown, Gunner Johnson, and Reid Peco with Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Caleb Fregia, Brennon Lecoq, Macoy Marze, and Tyler Shearin of Orangefield, and Tyrone Wilson from West Orange-Stark.
Four of the senior Orangefield Bobcats signed letters of intent on May 11 to play college baseball next year. Trent Eaves, Kolbie Sowell, and Macoy Marze signed to play with Alvin Junior College. Kameryn Henderson plans to attend Lamar University and play baseball for the Cardinals.