With an explosive offense that had made Mansfield Timberview quite a threat, the Lufkin Lady Panthers showed they had plenty of firepower of their own.
Using their red-hot bats combined with the stellar pitching of Alex Flores, the Lady Panthers steamrolled the Wolves, sweeping to 15-3 and 11-1 wins in the Class 5A Region II Area playoffs this past weekend.
After rolling to an easy win in the series opener in Mansfield Friday night, the Lady Panthers returned home for a Saturday afternoon contest. With its usual strong support coupled with a group of fans that on hand for a benefit softball tournament, Lufkin showed the opener was no fluke.
Lufkin’s hit parade was led by Yami Valdez, who finished with a pair of doubles, a single and three RBI.
Samantha Padilla added a double and a single and Julie Armes and Leah Akridge added two singles each.
Flores added a double, and Jasmine Ibarra, Sara Mayes and Reagan Jordan capped off the hitting with a single apiece.
Flores got the win in the pitching circle, allowing a run on six hits while striking out six before the game was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
In a tone that was evident throughout the series, Lufkin got on the board first using an outstanding effort combined with a Timberview mistake with Jordan coming around to score on a four-base error for a 1-0 lead.
Akridge then came around to score on a Valdez RBI double that made it 2-0.
After its only scoreless inning of the day in the second frame, Lufkin struck for three more runs in the third inning. Mayes made it 3-0 with an RBI single and Flores and Armes each had RBI doubles, making the score 5-0.
Padilla’s two-run single highlighted a three-run fourth inning for Lufkin before Mansfield Timberview finally got on the board in the top of the fifth.
However, Lufkin had the final answer with Valdez hitting a two-run single and Ibarra driving in the final score to make it an 11-1 final in a game that lasted just an hour and a half.
While that home showing was impressive, the Lady Panthers were even better on the road in taking a 1-0 advantage on Friday night. Ibarra led a 19-hit Lufkin attack with a pair of doubles, three RBI and five RBI.
Lufkin got the scoring started early with Ibarra and Valdez contributing RBI hits in a three-run first inning.
Timberview narrowed the gap to 3-1 in the second inning before Lufkin plated a single run in the fourth inning.
The Lady Panthers then opened it up late by combining for 11 runs in their last three at-bats. Flores got the win once again in the pitching circle. Lufkin will get a big-time test this week as it faces Hallsville in the Class 5A Region II Quarterfinals.
The series will start on Thursday night at 7 at Brook Hill High School. The teams will meet at the same location and time on Friday night. A third game, if necessary, would be played on Saturday at 2 p.m. with a location to be decided.
Lufkin is 32-3 on the season while Hallsville is 32-2. Coming into last week’s action, Hallsville was the No. 5 team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll while Lufkin was No. 6.