The Rains Ladycats shut the door on Mineola’s softball playoff run with a 7-0 defeat of the Lady Jackets in regional quarterfinal action May 10.The Lady Jackets had no answer against Rains ace Chanlee Oakes, who threw a one-hitter with six strike outs and only one base on balls.
Oakes was nearly untouchable on the night. She was in command of the strike zone, and when she did miss, she missed off the plate, leaving little for the Lady Jackets to drive. Although she possessed a very good fastball, her speed of delivery was truly unique. Her extraordinarily quick delivery put the ball on the hitter a split second earlier than they anticipated.
The conditions in Whitehouse were more akin to fall football than softball playoffs. Mother Nature offered chilly temperatures, a light drizzle and periodic wind gusts.
Rains put a runner on in the first when Presley McAree beat out a throw from Mineola shortstop Emily Wiley. McAree stole second but was left on base. Mineola hurler Anna Westberry struck out the number three hitter, and catcher Izzy Tresca made a nice play on a pop-up behind home plate for the third out. Westberry did not have her best night. She gave up seven hits, striking out six and offering up five free passes.
The Lady Jackets went down in order in the first, as they also did in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings. Oakes faced only 24 batters in seven innings.
Ladycat second baseman Elissa Elliott led off the second with a base hit to right field. After stealing second, she scored when designated hitter Sarah Coffman stroked a triple into the right field corner. Elliott and Coffman led the Ladycats in hitting, going 2-for-3 and 2-for-4, respectively.
Westberry reached base for Mineola in the bottom of the second when she beat out an infield base hit. Brianna Wilmoth hit a shot into right centerfield, which likely would have scored Westberry, but Ladycat centerfielder McAree made an excellent catch on the run to secure the out.
The third inning offered action and a little controversy. Westberry put the lead-off hitter, Leo Terry, on base by hitting her in the foot with a pitch. Terry easily stole second base, and that brought Mineola head coach Chandler Touchstone out of the dugout. After watching the third stolen base in as many innings, Touchstone confronted the field umpire with a complaint that the Rains baserunners were leaving the base early.
A subsequent base-on-balls put runners at the corners. Westberry got the next two batters with a strike out and an easy 1-3 play to first. With two outs, Westberry loaded the bases when she missed high, and the pitch glanced off of a Rains batter. It looked as if Rains would extend the lead when the umpire signaled the baserunner at third base “out” for having left the base early. Touchstone’s visit had paid off.
For a brief moment, the turn of events changed the momentum. The Ladycats committed a fielding error that put Mineola leadoff hitter Anna Galaz on base in the third. She was forced at second on a fielder’s choice, and the inning came to naught.
Each team went down in order in the fourth. Mineola’s Lauren Simmons lined out to left field on a well-struck ball. Leftfielder Jaylee Sims had to take only two quick steps to her right to secure the liner. Simmons also hit a rocket in the sixth inning which unfortunately was hit directly to the Rains shortstop.
The game stood 1-0 going into the fifth. Rains brought three runs home in the top of the inning. Back to back Lady Jackets fielding errors put two runners on base. Rains catcher Catrin Hoffman cracked an extra-base hit to left center, which skipped to the wall on the first bounce, and drove in two runs. Elliott slapped a clean double to right, scoring Hoffman.
The tide of the game had turned back to Rains. Ladycat firstbaseman Alexis Kearney made an outstanding play over her shoulder in short right field to record the first out of the bottom half. Despite a walk, a Mineola rally never materialized.
The Ladycats’ Coffman reached to start the sixth on a single through the right side. She advanced on a sacrifice bunt, but was stranded when Terry hit a hard smash directly at Lady Jacket third baseman Kaitlyn Burrell for the third out.
Mineola went down in order in the sixth.
Rains added to its lead with three runs in the seventh. In a repeat of the fifth inning, Mineola put two Rains baserunners on, this time with a hit-by-pitch and a walk. A Jasmine Mott double to left field scored the two baserunners. Mott then scored on a ground ball fielder’s choice.
Oakes used an effective change-up to take Mineola down in order in the seventh. Two ground ball outs and a strike out brought the curtain down on the Lady Jackets’ season.