Lady Jackets claim decisive 3rd game

Posted 5/9/24

The Mineola Lady Jackets are area softball champions. They certainly took a long, hard road to claim that title.  

As the public address announcer so aptly stated at the end of the series …

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Lady Jackets claim decisive 3rd game


The Mineola Lady Jackets are area softball champions. They certainly took a long, hard road to claim that title. 

As the public address announcer so aptly stated at the end of the series Saturday night in Tyler, “How was that for some playoff softball?!”

On Friday night, the Lady Jackets staged a bottom-of-the-seventh inning comeback, scoring four runs to take game one, 8-7. 

On Saturday, it was New Diana that staged a seventh-inning rally to walk-off with a 16-15 win. The teams combined for 26 base hits in that game. 

In the tie-breaker, the teams separated. The Lady Jackets played some of their best softball of the year in game three and were rewarded with a 16-6 win. 

A book about East Texas softball could be written about this series, but here are the highlights from games two and three.

In game two and behind an offensive barrage, the Lady Jackets opened a 10-0 lead through the middle of the fourth.

A six-run second inning featured three extra base hits (Caroline Castleberry triple and doubles by Mahayla McMahon and Jaycee Smith). The Jackets added two runs in the third with some clever base running by Kali Chrietzberg, scoring out of a pickle between third and home. 

Two runs followed in the top of the fourth as New Diana seemed to be self-destructing with three errors in the inning.

There was talk between innings around the New Diana dug-out about “not giving up.” The Mineola faithful were looking for a quick three outs and a ten-rule ruling.

That all changed when Lady Eagle catcher Ava Smith led off in the bottom of the fourth. She hit what seemed to be an innocuous ground ball to the left side. It wasn’t an especially difficult ball to field and it was handled cleanly. Smith just beat it to first for an infield base hit. She just won the moment.

As of that instant, the whole game changed. New Diana scored three on an extra base hit, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly. They were back in the game. Incredibly, the Lady Eagles then vaulted to a 12-10 lead. 

In the top of the seventh, the Lady Jackets took the game back. Emily Hodges reached on an error and Chrietzberg launched a triple to centerfield. Marshall singled home Chrietzberg. Kaitlyn McMahon singled and Mahayla McMahon brought home two runs with a single. Jaycee Smith’s double drove home McMahon. 

The Lady Jackets had given themselves a three-run lead – three outs away from an area title. 

New Diana opened the bottom of the seventh with a single up the middle and three back-to-back extra base hits.

A Mineola error hurt, but there was a sense in the air that New Diana was going to get those runs. They did. It was on to game three. 

Mycah Morman threw a complete game three. She spread 11 hits – three of which were infield base hits – struck out two and gave up six free bases.

Beyond the scoreline however, she demonstrated composure and consistency regardless of the situation. 

Mineola also stepped up their defensive efforts in game three. They turned two double plays. The first was a 1-2-3 to kill a small New Diana rally in the third. Two innings later, with runners on base, Castleberry closed quickly in centerfield to take a line drive catch on the run, she then gunned the ball to second to double off the runner.  

Jorga Young had a critical play on a hot shot at second base in the fourth. Moving toward second, she knocked the ball down and was able to pivot and complete the toss to first for the out. Likewise, a great stretch at first by Journie Wilson ended the game.

It was the bats, however, which dominated play. Mineola recorded 17 base hits in game three. They pounded the ball.

Wilson (5 for 5), Mahayla McMahon (4 for 5) and Jaycee Smith (3 for 4) led the Lady Jackets at the plate. 

It was a complete victory as well as a good springboard going into the next round. One thing is certain, the season promises another round of amazing softball.

The three-game series began Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Tatum High School with the second game Thursday at 6:30. If a third game is needed it will be Friday at 5:30, also at Tatum.