If the Lufkin Lady Panthers hope to make another extended playoff run, they’ll have to do it in comeback fashion.
On Thursday night, Hannah Frank was solid in the pitching circle and the Rockwall Lady Jackets’ bats did just enough to sneak away with a 4-3 victory over the Lady Pack in the first game of a best-of-three Class 6A Region II Bi-District playoff game in Athens.
Frank pitched a complete game, allowing three runs, two earned, on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
That was just enough to outduel Lufkin’s Smiley Radke, who pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits and four walks to go along with 12 strikeouts.
The Lady Panthers were able to strike first when Tatum Liles led off the second inning with a single. Cailee Hendrick followed with a groundout to third and pinch runner Mikayla Horace took off for third.
When the throw to third got away, Horace came around to score the first run for a 1-0 lead.
The lead was short lived when Sam Bean delivered a two-out RBI single to center that scored Reagan Swildall, tying the game at 1-1.
Lufkin got the lead for the second time in the fourth inning when Samantha Padilla delivered an RBI single, scoring Tatum Liles for a 2-1 advantage.
Rockwall once again had an immediate answer as Frank scored when the ball got away from the catcher with two outs in the inning, knotting the game at 2-2.
The Lady Jackets finally took the lead for the first time in the sixth inning with Swindall hitting an RBI single to left field, making it a 3-2 game.
Rockwall got an insurance run in the seventh inning when Cassie Lawrence hit an RBI single for a 4-2 lead.
That proved to be necessary in the bottom of the seventh when Akridge used her speed to leg out a leadoff single then come around to score on a Sara Mayes RBI double.
However, Frank got the last two outs on a flyout and a grounder, securing the win for Rockwall.
Hitters for Lufkin were Tatum Liles (2 singles), Mayes (double, RBI), Padilla (single, RBI), Hendrick (double) and Julie Armes and Akridge (single).
Rockwall hitters were Sam Bean (triple, single, RBI), Paige Harris (2 singles), Swindall and Lawrence (single, RBI) and Frank (double).
Lufkin will look to even the series up tonight when the teams meet at 7 on Friday night at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens. A third game, if necessary, would take place on Saturday