In a game that featured plenty of back-and-forth action between two teams fighting for a playoff spot, the Oak Ridge Lady Eagles had the last laugh as Chey Cavanaugh delivered a monstrous homer and Taylor Brandon held Lufkin’s bats in check on their way to a 6-4 win at Morris Frank Park.
In a game that was pushed ahead four hours due to an impending thunderstorm, the teams battled a constant heavy wind for what proved to be an entertaining Friday afternoon matchup.
Oak Ridge and Lufkin traded leads in the early going before Cavanaugh’s blast gave the Lady Eagles all the momentum. Oak Ridge then plated three runs in the seventh inning and held off a late Lufkin surge on the way to the two-run win.
Brandon got the win for Oak Ridge, allowing four runs, two earned, on five hits with six strikeouts and three walks in a complete-game effort.
That was enough to outlast Lufkin’s Smiley Radke, who was effective for most of the game. She allowed three earned runs on seven hits and four walks to go along with 12 strikeouts.
However, she was unraveled by three unearned runs in the seventh inning that proved to be too much for Lufkin to overcome.
Oak Ridge didn’t take long to take the early lead as Cavanaugh hit a double then scored on an Autumn Sydlik double to make it 1-0.
That lead stayed until the third inning when Lufkin used the wind to its advantage.
After Julie Armes singled, Sara Mayes lofted a fly ball into left center. With the help of a heavy wind behind it, the ball sailed just over the wall, giving the Lady Pack a 2-1 advantage.
In the fifth inning, Oak Ridge used a break to capture the lead for good. After the first two outs were recorded, Kim Manuel laid down a bunt that Lufkin head coach Shelby Holcomb claimed hit her leg on the way down the first base line. However, after a brief conference, it was ruled a single.
The Lady Eagles took advantage of the break as Cavanaugh launched a no-doubt shot well over the right field wall, giving them a 3-2 lead.
The Lady Panthers had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the inning when Yami Valdez and Leah Akridge reached on errors. Mayes was intentionally walked to load the bases. However, a groundout left the bases loaded.
Lufkin stranded two more runners in the sixth inning, keeping the score at 3-2.
Oak Ridge then took advantage of some sloppy Lufkin play in the seventh inning to get some breathing room.
The Lady Eagles loaded the bases on Lufkin’s first error of the day that was followed by a walk and a hit batter.
With two outs, Brandon drew a bases loaded walk to make it 4-2.
Oak Ridge then tacked on two more runs when Sydlik scored on a passed ball. When the toss to home plate got past the pitcher, Kenzie Mayes came around to score from second to make the score 6-2.
The Lady Panthers didn’t go down without a fight as Akridge went all the way to third base on an error to start the bottom of the seventh before Armes delivered an RBI triple to make it 6-3.
After Mayes was intentionally walked for the second time, Samantha Padilla hit a grounder to short that was bobbled. However, the courtesy runner tripped on the way to second and was forced out on the play. Armes came around to score on the play, making it 6-4 with the potential tying run at the plate.
However, Brandon got out of the jam by inducing a ground ball that ended the game.
Lufkin hitters were Mayes (homer, double, 2 RBI), Armes (triple, single, RBI), Radke (single) and Padilla (RBI).
Oak Ridge hitters were Cavanaugh (homer, double, 2 RBI), Manuel (2 singles), Sydlik (double, single, RBI) and Brandon (single, RBI).
Lufkin will take a break from district action on Tuesday night as it hosts Pine Tree.