It went to a tiebreaking third game, but the 2021 softball season finally came to an end for the West Rusk High School Lady Raiders on Friday night.
West Rusk was locked in a battle with Grandview in the University Interscholastic League’s Class 3A regional semifinals, a best-of-three-game series that saw Grandview take game one, then the Lady Raiders get an exciting walk-off win in game two, all played at Rockwall Heath High School.
The series was back at Heath Friday for the deciding game three – and unfortunately it didn’t go West Rusk’s way. The Lady Raiders plated two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t complete the comeback, losing the 8-5 decision.
Grandview moves on to the regional final to face Emory Rains – who has a 34-1 record and has been a powerhouse all season.
For West Rusk in the loss, Natalie Christy had two doubles and an RBI. Jamie Casey had an RBI and a single. Lilly Waddell had two singles and 2 RBI. Macie Blizzard and Krysten Price each had a single and Piper Morton had a single and two stolen bases.
K.K. Moore had three hits and 3 RBI for the Lady Zebras.
Waddell pitched for West Rusk. She had three strikeouts, allowed just one walk and of Grandview’s eight runs, only three were earned.
Looking back on the Lady Raiders’ playoff run, it was a great one. Dr. Bill Morton’s team beat Ore City, 1-0, in a single-game playoff in the first, or bi-district, round, and then faced Harmony in round two. Harmony edged out WR in the first game of a best-of-three series, 6-5, but the Lady Raiders bounced back to win game two, 6-2, and then game three, 7-4, to take the series.
In round three, WR beat White Oak by winning a pair of 2-1 games, and then came this series against Grandview.
In game one, it was the Lady Zebras with a 5-2 win. The Lady Raiders ran into a buzzsaw in Grandview pitcher Caydin Blackmon, who rolled up 15 strikeouts and held WR to five hits.
Grandview took a 3-0 lead. West Rusk got within a run – 3-2 – by plating two runs in the top of the sixth inning. But Grandview got them right back in the bottom of the inning with two of their own, and the Lady Raiders couldn’t get closer in their final at-bat.
Amber Cothran had a home run for West Rusk and Morton had two doubles. Waddell had a double and a single. Waddell threw six innings for WR, allowing five runs but only one earned on four hits. She walked two and had six strikeouts.
The Lady Raiders struck back, though, in game two, in exciting fashion.
West Rusk trailed, 2-1, in the bottom of the seventh. Stormie LeJeune managed a one-out single, and Morton hit a double, sending LeJeune to third. Cothran walked and loaded the bases. Christy came to the plate with a chance to be the hero, and she was, a 2-RBI single that gave the Lady Raiders a 3-2 win.
For the Lady Raiders in game two, Waddell got the win on the mound. She allowed two runs, one earned, and walked just one batter. She had four strikeouts.
At the plate, LeJeune finished with the single and a double. Morton had the double and an RBI. Blizzard had a double and a single, as well.
West Rusk finishes the season with a 23-6 overall record.