Lady Bobcats close outstanding season
Last updated 5/23/2023 at 9:36am
The Orangefield Lady Bobcats had their outstanding season come to an end Friday, May 19, in Navasota. The Lady Bobcats lost in a one game playoff with the Class 3A top ranked Grandview Lady Zebras to be eliminated from the state UIL playoffs after reaching the fourth round of the post season for the first time in the school's softball history.
Orangefield played even with Grandview for four innings during a scoreless tie. The Lady Zebras got two late homeruns in the fifth and sixth innings to win the game 5-0 and advance to the regional finals next week.
As she has all season Abigail Curphey gave the Lady Bobcats strong pitching to keep things even early. Curphey threw a complete game going six innings surrendering nine hits of which five came in the sixth inning when Grandview scored four of its runs. Abigail struck out five Lady Zebras and walked none.
The difference in the game was freshman phenom Madi Doty of Grandview who pitched the first six innings allowing just one ball to be hit out of the infield while striking out six Lady Bobcats. Doty also went three for three with her bat which included a homerun as she accounted for three of the five Lady Zebra runs.
The Lady Bobcats were actually the first to threaten to score getting a runner to second base in both the first and third innings. Hallee Becker walked to open the game and was sacrificed to second by Aubree Beck. Unfortunately, Becker rounded second base a little too far causing the alert Grandview first baseman Isabella Jeter to throw to second and Hallee was tagged out diving back to the bag to thwart the chance to score for Orangefield.
In the third inning Rylee Dougay was hit by a pitch with one out. Alysen Vincent sacrificed Dougay to second but she was stranded there when Doty got a strike out to end the top half of the inning.
Doty led off the bottom of the third with a single to left off Curphey to become the first Lady Zebra base runner. Charlee Sanches charged a dribbler to third to get a force out on Doty at second base before Curphey registered her fourth strikeout to that point, and Greenlea Oldham made an unassisted put out at first to snuff out any chance for Grandview.
Curphey was masterful and maybe a little lucky in the fourth inning when the Lady Zebras' first two hitters singled. The threat became even bigger when both runners moved up a base after a pitch went to the backstop.
Grandview's Jeter popped out to Vincent behind first base for the first out. Kylie Grafa hit a fly to left caught by Paris Becker for the second out on which the runner at third appeared to leave early and then retreated back to third leaving her with no chance to challenge Paris' arm.
The next Lady Zebra Olivia Bauerschlag slapped a sinking liner to right that had runs scoring base hit written all over it. Hallee Becker erased that result running in and diving head first to make a sensational catch that had the fans dressed in Orange standing and clapping with appreciation for Hallee helping keep the score tied 0-0 after four.
Leading off the bottom of the fifth for Grandview was Doty who smashed a pitch to left center that went over the fence and clanged off the scoreboard for a homerun. The Lady Zebras took a 1-0 lead.
The biggest threat of the game for Orangefield came in the next half inning. With two outs in the sixth Hallie Becker laid down a bunt towards third and beat it out for the first Lady Bobcat hit of the contest.
Beck batted next ripping a hard grounder that handcuffed the Grandview shortstop for another hit and caromed away allowing Becker to race to third and Aubree to reach second base on the throw to try to nip Hallee. Harleigh Rawls then walked to load the bases with Lady Bobcats.
That brought up Sanches who had been robbed of a hit back in the fourth on a diving stop of her grounder by Lady Zebra second baseman Kierstyn Moore. Sanches bounced another grounder to the right side but not as difficult this time and Moore converted the play into the third out ending the potential Lady Bobcat rally.
Moore started the bottom half of the sixth for Grandview with a single. Dougay made an amazing play in centerfield on the next hitter when she fell down but kept her concentration and eye on the ball to make the catch while practically lying on the ground.
There was no catching the next ball hit as Jeter homered over the centerfield fence. Grandview grabbed a 3-0 lead.
The Lady Zebras would add two more runs with two outs. Doty was in the middle of the rally doubling home the first run and scoring the second to give Grandview a five-run advantage.
Caydin Blackmon relieved Doty in the circle for the seventh inning. The senior Lady Zebra pitcher retired the Lady Bobcats in order to secure the victory for Grandview.
Coach Rebekah Ragsdale of Orangefield reflected back on how close the game really was. Ragsdale commented, "I almost don't even feel like the score was indicative of how close it was. Doty was the MVP of the game, but we knew coming in that their pitching was going to be tough and we've known all year our offense was where we were going to struggle. We've already talked about what we're going to be doing to improve that in the offseason. For us to be going into the fifth inning still zero, zero my sister Coach Nash and I were going like we're about to do this. I'm just proud of the Lady Bobcats' effort, and I never felt like they got rattled. I never felt like they felt overpowered against a team as strong as Grandview."
The coach called this season awesome for her Lady Bobcats. "From day one I know I've said it a million times to this point the Lady Bobcats' growth has been exponential and only big things are to come from here. This is the standard now. We know what it looks like, we know what it feels like, now in the future we'll be ready, and we'll be prepared," Ragsdale concluded.