A memorable season came to a frustrating end as the Lufkin Lady Panthers dropped a 6-4 decision to the Rockwall Lady Jacks in the third and deciding game of the Class 6A Region II Playoffs in Madisonville Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Pack spent much of the day on the verge of the second round of the playoffs but never could get the game-changing hit when it needed it most.
Lufkin stranded 11 runners on a day it got 10 hits, three walks and a hit batter against Rockwall pitcher Hannah Frank. However, it left the bases loaded on a pair of occasions, including in the sixth inning when it had the bases loaded with one out. Lufkin
stranded 29 runners in the three-game series.
Frank got the win, allowing four runs, two earned, to go along with two strikeouts.
That was just enough to get past Lufkin’s Smiley Radke, who pitched a complete game, allowing six runs, five earned, on eight hits and three walks.
However, Rockwall got the hits when it needed them most, stranding only six runners.
It didn’t take long for the Lady Jackets to get an early advantage on Saturday afternoon. With the help of a driving wind, Erica Speers blasted a two-run homer just two batters into the game for a 2-0 lead.
Lufkin quickly chipped away with the help of a Rockwall error that allowed Charion Bruton to score from second on a ball hit by Cailee Hendrick.
Rockwall responded in the third inning with Paige Harris hitting a two-out RBI single that made the score 3-1.
Lufkin answered with a run in the bottom of the inning as Sara Mayes hit a single and courtesy runner Bruton stole second. Jasmine Ibarra followed with a groundout, and when the first baseman attempted to throw out Bruton at third, the ball got away, allowing
her to score and cut the margin to 3-2.
The Panthers finally tied the game for the first time in the sixth inning. Yami Valdez hit a ball to short and when Rockwall attempted to throw out the runner at third, the ball went into the dugout, giving the Lady Panthers the tying run.
Lufkin then loaded the bases with one out but had a runner forced out at home then had a strikeout for Rockwall to avoid further damage.
The Lady Jackets took advantage in the seventh inning with a final blow Lufkin couldn’t recover from.
Frank led off the inning with a double, Reagan Swindoll walked and Erica Speer delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3.
Sam Bean followed with an RBI double and Rockwall got its sixth run on a Lufkin error.
The Lady Panthers had one final gasp in the bottom of the seventh as Tatum Liles was walked and came around to score on Radke’s RBI triple. That was as close as it got as Frank induced a grounder back to herself to end Lufkin’s threat and the season.
Hitters for Lufkin were Radke (triple, single, RBI), Valdez (3 singles), Akridge and Mayes (2 singles) and Ibarra (single).
Rockwall hitters were Bean (2 doubles, RBI), Frank (double, single), Speer (home run, 3 RBI), Harris (single, RBI) and Swindoll and Darryan Welborn (single).
Panthers set playoff series
By JOSH HAVARD
Two wins over The Woodlands Highlanders have shown that the Lufkin Panthers’ baseball team can compete against the best the state has to offer.
They will take that confidence into the postseason as they open the playoffs with a Class 6A Region II Bi-District best-of-three series against Rockwall Heath.
That series will take place with all three games at Tyler’s Mike Carter Field. The opening game of the series is set for Friday night at 7.
The series will resume on Saturday afternoon at 1 with a third game to follow, if necessary.
Lufkin enters the playoffs as the fourth place team in 12-6A. Rockwall Heath is the top seed from District 11-6A.
Lady Panthers force deciding third game
By JOSH HAVARD
Needing a win to keep their season alive, the Lufkin Lady Panthers answered in emphatic fashion as they struck early and often in rolling to a 7-1 win over the Rockwall Lady Jackets in the second game of a Class 6A Region III Bi-District playoff series in Athens
With the win, Lufkin forces a third and deciding game, which will be played at Madisonville High School on Saturday afternoon at 2.
A total team effort guaranteed a third game would be necessary as Smiley Radke was strong in the pitching circle for the Lady Panthers. She pitched the complete game, giving up a single earned run on three hits, fanning eight and walking three.
Radke got more than enough backup from her offense as the Lady Panthers were able to break through against Rockwall’s Hannah Frank, who had gotten the win a day earlier.
On Friday night, she allowed seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits with two strikeouts and five walks.
Leah Akridge led the way for Lufkin with four singles and an RBI. Cailee Hendrick added two singles and two RBI and Jasmine Ibara had a double and an RBI. Julie Armes, Sara Mayes and Tatum Liles added a single each.
The Lady Panthers set the tone for the game early on as Cailee Hendrick came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to score Julie Armes with the game’s first run.
The Lady Pack broke the game open with a four-run second inning. Akridge got the Lady Pack back on the board with an RBI single that made it 2-0.
With runners on the corners, Armes stole second and Akridge came around to score when the throw got away, making it 3-0.
Jasmine Ibarra then delivered an RBI double that went to the wall in left field, scoring Armes with the game’s fourth run.
Hendrick capped off the four-run inning with an RBI single to center, making it 5-0.
The Lady Panthers tacked on another run in the fourth inning when Hendrick hit a grounder. When Rockwall dropped the ball at first, Armes was able to sprint around from second to score, making it 6-0.
Lufkin extended that lead to 7-0 on a wild pitch in the fifth inning.
Rockwall finally got on the board in the sixth inning when Paige Harris’ RBI single scored Erica Spears, making it 7-1.
Lufkin will take on Rockwall on Saturday at 2 with the winner advancing to the area round of the playoffs.
Lady Pack drops playoff opener
By JOSH HAVARD
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 afternoon at 2 at Madisonville.
Pack knocks off The Woodlands again
By JOSH HAVARD
Gearing up for what they hope is another extended playoff run, the Lufkin Panthers built up some big-time momentum as they upset The Woodlands Highlanders, 5-0, on the road Friday night.
Kolton Eberlan pitched a complete-game five-hit shutout as the Panthers took down the Highlanders for the second time this season with both victories coming on the road. Eberlan struck out two and walked none as the Panthers won the season series from the Highlanders,
Adam Holden and Tanner Green led the Lufkin hitters with a pair of singles each while Max Quick had a double and two RBI and Davis Powell delivered a single and two RBI.
Charlie Henson, Dillon McDuffie and Jonathan Dewberry each added a single for the Pack.
The Panthers took control of the game thanks to a four-run third inning. Davis Powell gave Lufkin the 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to center field. Green scored the Pack’s second run on an error.
That lead grew to 4-0 when Quick delivered a two-run double.
The game stood at 4-0 until the seventh inning when Henson singled then came around to score on a Powell RBI single.
That was more than enough for Eberlan, who was in control from the opening inning.
The Panthers will open the playoffs next week with an opponent still to be determined.
Lufkin players shine in all-star game
By JOSH HAVARD
Playing as high schoolers for the final time on their home court, a group of Panthers and Lady Panthers made their presence felt during the 9th Annual KTRE Pineywoods Showdown on the Lufkin Middle School campus on Thursday afternoon.
On the girls’ side, Lufkin’s JaKayla Suell teamed up with Diboll’s Mia Williams to dominate the competition in a 57-40 win by the Angelina Count All Stars.
On the boys’ side, Courtnee Garcia led all scorers, but it wasn’t quite enough as Angelina was on the wrong side of a 71-66 decision.
In the girls’ game, Suell and Williams combined for a total of 41 points, outscoring the entire Nacogdoches team.
Suell finished the game with 18 points with nine coming in each half. Six of those came in the fourth quarter when the Angelina team broke open a game that was relatively close for much of the night.
She had plenty of help from teammate Diamond Johnson, who scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter. That Lufkin duo combined to score 12 of Angelina’s 20 points in the last quarter.
It was a defensive struggle early as Williams scored five and Suell had two in the opening quarter, giving Angelina a slim 7-6 lead.
That duo turned it on in the second quarter with Williams scoring eight and Suell putting in seven as Angelina expanded that margin out to 24-15. In the opening half, they combined to score 21 of the total 39 points in the game.
They continued to be a force throughout the contest before Suell and Williams each put on a dribbling exhibition in the final minute in closing out the win.
Lufkin’s Ivey Massie also participated in the game for Angelina.
The Nacogdoches all-stars were led by Chireno’s Chloe Woodson, who had 10 points.
On the boys’ side, Lufkin players did the bulk of the damage with Garcia scoring 21 and Rodgers putting in seven. James Jefferson added three as the Lufkin trio combined for 31 of Angelina’s 66 points in the five-point loss.
Garcia got Angelina off to a solid start with a three and layup giving the local all-stars a 10-9 lead.
Those proved to be the only points of the half for Garcia.
After the break, Nacogdoches had a hard time finding any answers for Garcia as he scored 14 points in the third quarter. Nine of those came on a trio of three-pointers as Angelina turned a six-point deficit into an eight-point advantage before eventually leading
53-51 after three quarters.
Angelina eventually went up by double digits early in the fourth quarter before Nacogdoches came storming back for the win.
Nacogdoches’ Jordan Upshaw led the Nacogdoches all-stars with 19 points.
Lady Panthers stun The Woodlands
By JOSH HAVARD
Entering the regular-season finale, the Lufkin Lady Panthers had known for awhile that they would be participants in the 2017 playoffs. On Friday night, they showed the fight that could make them legitimate contenders as they stunned The Woodlands Lady Highlanders,
2-1, in nine innings at Morris Frank Park.
Down to their final strike, Lufkin’s Cailee Hendrick made her Senior Night one to remember by forcing extra innings with an RBI double. Lexy Ramirez then came through with a bases-loaded walk as the Lady Panthers handed the district champion Lady Highlanders
their first 12-6A loss.
That made a winner of Lufkin’s standout sophomore Smiley Radke, who baffled a star-studded Lady Highlanders’ lineup on her way to pitching a complete-game three-hitter.
Playing in front of a packed crowd, Lufkin showed it wouldn’t back down from The Woodlands, who had coasted through most of district action.
Radke allowed just a single hit through the first six innings in slowing down The Woodlands for the second time this season. Earlier this year, she came up just short against the Lady Highlanders.
In the seventh inning, it looked like Lufkin may taste a repeat of that game as The Woodlands loaded the bases with no doubts on a pair of walks and a single in the top of the seventh inning.
Becca Borstmayer then delivered an RBI single to left that let The Woodlands finally get on the board. However, Ramirez was there to gun a potential second run down at the plate, keeping the score at 1-0.
That play proved to be pivotal for the Lady Pack.
After the first two outs were recorded in the seventh inning, Tatum Liles jumped on a pitch for a double to right field.
Hendrick then delivered the highlight of the night, driving an RBI double to deep center to drive in the tying run.
Given second life, Radke wasn’t going to let another game slip through her grasp as she struck out a batter with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
After retiring The Woodlands in the ninth inning, she drew a leadoff walk before Liles delivered a single. After a flyout, Samantha Padilla drew a walk to load the bases.
Ramirez then walked on a full count to send the Lady Panthers into the playoffs on a high note.
The Lady Panthers will open the playoffs next week with a site and date to be determined.
Panthers fall to Oak Ridge
By JOSH HAVARD
Oak Ridge’s Jacory Boudreaux held the Panthers’ bats in check in pitching a complete game and also delivered the pop at the plate as the War Eagles completed a season sweep with a 3-1 win over Lufkin in District 12-6A action at Morris Frank Park on Friday night.
Boudreaux allowed a single earned run on four hits and one walk while striking out seven in the complete game effort. At the plate, he delivered a pair of singles, including an RBI hit in the seventh inning. He also scored the War Eagles’ first two runs.
His efforts were enough to offset a solid outing from Lufkin’s Kolton Eberlan, who pitched a complete game of his own. He allowed three runs, one earned, on six hits and a walk to go along with four strikeouts.
That left Lufkin with some work ahead of itself in order to clinch a spot in the postseason in the final week of the regular season.
With the pitchers in control for most of the night, the War Eagles took advantage of a pair of Lufkin miscues to provide their early offense.
In the first inning, a potential inning-ending groundout went through a fielder’s legs, allowing Boudreaux to score the first run of the game.
The Panthers didn’t take long to tie up the game as Clayton Gesford started the second inning with a single and Tanner Green drew a walk. Adam Holden blooped a single that landed just in front of a diving left fielder, allowing Gesford to score the tying run.
Oak Ridge once again didn’t take long to answer with the help of another Lufkin error.
With one out and a runner on first, the Panthers appeared to force out a runner at second. However, the umpire ruled Lufkin’s second baseman didn’t hold on to the ball long enough to get the forceout.
Oak Ridge’s Tyler Davis took advantage of the error with an RBI single that gave the War Eagles a 2-1 lead.
It was all Boudreaux from there as he retired the final 11 batters of the game. He also delivered his own insurance run with a sharply hit RBI single to right that made the score 3-1 in the seventh inning.
Holden led Lufkin’s offense with a single and an RBI while Dillon McDuffie, Clayton Gesford and Dillon McDuffie each had a single.
Oak Ridge hitters were Boudreaux (2 singles, RBI), Steven Spoon (2 singles), Davis (single, RBI) and Gage Grissom (single).
Lufkin (13-13, 5-8) will return to action on Tuesday when it hosts The Woodlands for Senior Night at 6 p.m.
Panthers fall to Oak Ridge
By JOSH HAVARD
The Oak Ridge War Eagles jumped out to a big lead early then held on late as the Lufkin Panthers dropped a 9-6 decision in District 12-6A baseball action in Conroe Wednesday night.
Oak Ridge raced out to an 8-1 lead after four innings. Lufkin eventually struck for four runs in the seventh inning before the War Eagles finally got out of the jam in getting their second straight win over the Panthers.
Dillon McDuffie led the Panthers with three singles and an RBI. Max Quick delivered a homer, single and two RBI and Adam Holden had a pair of singles.
Tanner Green had a single and two RBI and Jonathan Dewberry, Charlie Henson, Dylan Murphy, and Clayton Corley chipped in with a single each.
Green took the loss on the mound for Lufkin, allowing eight runs, seven earned, on seven hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.
Clayton Corley pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, giving up one earned run on two hits and a strikeout.
Oak Ridge struck for three runs in the first and second innings for a quick 6-0 lead. The Pack got on the board with a McDuffie RBI single before Oak Ridge answered with two more runs in the bottom of the inning.
Quick opened the sixth inning with a solo homer before Oak Ridge scored in the bottom half of the inning to make it 9-2.
The Panthers put together a seventh-inning rally with RBI singles from Gesford and Quick and a two-run single from Green before Oak Ridge escaped further damage and held on for the 9-6 win.
The Panthers fell to 4-6 in district with the loss and will return to action on Friday when they host the same War Eagles at 6 p.m. With three games left in the regular season, the Panthers hold a two-game lead over Conroe for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Montgomery is in sixth place, three games back of Lufkin.
Lady Panthers fall to Oak Ridge
By JOSH HAVARD
The Lufkin Lady Panthers’ softball team raced out to a three-run lead but couldn’t hold on as they dropped a 7-6 decision to the Oak Ridge Lady Eagles in District 12-6A action in Conroe Wednesday night.
Lufkin held a 5-2 lead after four innings before Oak Ridge struck for four runs in the fifth inning. The Lady Eagles added a run in the sixth inning then held off a final Lufkin rally in preserving the win.
The Lady Panthers (5-4 in district) will close out the regular season on Friday night when they host The Woodlands Lady Highlanders at 6:30 p.m.
Lufkin, which has already wrapped up a playoff spot, would clinch third place in the district with a win or a Montgomery loss against Oak Ridge.
Lufkin falls to The Woodlands
By JOSH HAVARD
After getting upset in The Woodlands earlier this season, the Highlanders had revenge on their minds as they rolled to a 12-1 win over the Panthers on Senior Night at Morris Frank Park Tuesday night.
Dillon McDuffie took the loss on the mound for the Pack as he allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings.
The Panthers also turned to Clayton Corley, Tanner Green and Dylan Murphy on the mound, although they could never find an answer for The Woodlands’ bats.
The Woodlands scored four runs in the second inning before Adam Holden delivered an RBI single that narrowed the gap to 4-1.
The Highlanders answered with a run in the third inning, four more in the fourth and three in the fifth to put the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
Lufkin will close out the regular season on Friday night as it travels to The Woodlands.
The Panthers have already locked up the district’s fourth playoff seed and will open the playoffs next week.