Defending state champs shut out Alba-Golden
The Alba-Golden Lady Panthers came into the district softball opener riding an 11-1 record compiled over some serious competition. The reigning 3A state champion Rains Ladycats brought them down to earth with an 8-0 defeat Monday, March 9 at Alba-Golden.
Expectations were high on a perfect afternoon for softball. A large crowd was present to watch what promised to be a pitching duel between Ladycat Chanlee Oakes and Lady Panther Crimson Bryant. Both hurlers provided quality pitching. Oakes finished with 13 strike outs while Bryant recorded nine.
The storyline of this game however was not pitching; it was the all-around quality of the Rains lineup. Six Ladycat hitters produced 11 base hits. Rains strung a number of those hits together to cause maximum damage with runners on base.
Defensively, Rains played error-free ball and provided quality backup to Oakes.
The first two innings gave Alba-Golden much hope. Despite a Ladycat reaching base on an error, Bryant struck out the side in the first and set the Ladycats down in order in the second.
In the bottom of the first Lady Panther lead-off hitter Abby Hallman reached on a bunt single and promptly stole second base. She advanced to third on a Bryant single to center but was left stranded as the Panther rally stalled.
Two innings of tight softball set-up a big third for the visiting Ladycats. A bunt single and a sacrifice put a Ladycat on second base with two outs. Three consecutive base hits, a single and back-to-back doubles, brought four runs across and broke open the game.
Alba-Golden managed just five hits against Oakes, who was in complete control of her velocity, location and off-speed pitches. Hallman managed to go 2-for-3.
Rains put runners on in the fourth and fifth innings, but Bryant worked herself out of trouble. The first pitch of the sixth saw Ladycat Catrin Hoffman launch a shot over the right centerfield wall for a home run.
Bryant limited the damage in the sixth, but the Ladycats had begun to get a bead on her. Rains put up three runs in the top of the seventh to conclude the scoring.
No doubt the Lady Panthers were disappointed at the initial district test, but there are not many softball teams in East Texas on the same level as Rains. The Lady Panthers are in for a solid season and have the where-with-all to make it a memorable one.