By MITCH LUCAS
First two games down, many more to go, and hopefully not without a playoff berth.
Kilgore’s Lady Bulldogs softball team opened the 2018 season in the Lady Lobo Classic tournament Thursday at Lear Park, losing their season opener to Longview, but bounced back to beat West Rusk.
Kilgore (1-1) was to play Liberty-Eylau and Quitman on Friday, and is scheduled to play New Diana today at 11 a.m. on Lear’s field four, then Alba-Golden at 5 p.m., also on field four.
The Lady ‘Dogs visit Mount Pleasant-Chapel Hill on Tuesday, a 5 p.m. varsity-only night.
Longview 4, Kilgore 1 (opener): Kilgore had a little season-opening jitters in the first inning, but got onto the scoreboard in the second.
Kristen Wilson, Kilgore’s pitcher, drew a walk in her first at-bat of the season, and then Gracie Gossage laid down a nice bunt and reached, allowing Kilgore to have a couple of runners on base safely. Mackenzie Harrison followed with an RBI double, Kilgore’s first run of the season.
The Lady Bulldogs finished with four hits: Wilson had a single to lead off the fourth, and got as far as third base, but was stranded when Longview managed to end the inning; Harrison had the RBI double; Hailee Jo Lewis had a single; and Bailey Downing had a single.
Longview got its runs in part on Kilgore mistakes; the Lady Bulldogs had four errors. Wilson allowed only three hits, and struck out five in four innings pitched.
Kilgore 4, West Rusk 1 (game two): This time, Kilgore got an early run and built on it – when West Rusk answered and tied the game, KHS responded with two runs in the second, and never trailed. They added a run in the fifth.
Downing walked and then stole second, and then when Lewis hit a change-up pitch, Downing scored for Kilgore’s first run.
West Rusk tied the game, but then Kilgore un-tied it quickly. Harrison had a one-out single, and then Miah Thomas, just a freshman, walked. Bailey Hedges, another freshman, laid down a nice bunt that loaded the bases, and then Harrison scored on a passed ball. Downing hit a grounder and was thrown out, but scored Thomas, giving Kilgore the 3-1 lead.
Catcher Elizabeth Idlett made a tag to get Kilgore out of the third without the Lady Raiders scoring a run, and then in the fifth, Downing singled, was bunted over to second by Tra’Kaila Graves, stole third and then scored on an RBI single by Lewis. Wilson got the win. She struck out six in four innings.
Freshmen joining Thomas and Hedges on varsity are Alyssa Whittington and Genna Cavanaugh. Jaely Skiles, Wilson, and Harrison are sophomores, and Downing, Graves, Destiney Mendez, Janae Moore, and Lewis are juniors. The team’s seniors are Idlett, Tayla Green and Gossage. Cheyenne Kirkpatrick returns as head coach, and her assistants are Bobby Berry and Ivan Monzon. Managers are Sydney Barnes, Kaden Downing and Carley Dollins.