BROCK – The Graford Lady Jackrabbits softball team faced off against the Blum Lady Bobcats in a winner-take-all regional semifinal game Thursday night.
Graford freshman pitcher Trinity Leach was dominant both from the mound and the plate early in helping her team seize control of the evenly-matched battle, but ultimately Blum was able to surge ahead late with six runs in the final two innings to walk away with a 7-3 victory.
“She has done an amazing job this season,” Lady Rabbits head coach Lexia Lemley said of Leach. “I knew as a freshman a big game like this would be tough on her, but she stayed mentally tough and trusted her teammates. She remained calm even when we got down, but she did her job. I’m super proud of her.”
Leach and Lady Bobcats sophomore pitcher Caelan Ringer traded zeroes through the first two innings in impressive displays from the circle. However, Leach got Graford on the board first in the bottom of the third. Graford sophomore Baylee Townes reached base on an error and advanced to second on the play with one out. After that, freshman leadoff hitter Savannah Martin’s sacrifice bunt moved Townes to third. Then, Leach pulverized the ball for a towering RBI single to put the Lady Rabbits in front 1-0.
The Lady Bobcats tied the score at 1-all in the top of the fifth courtesy of an RBI single from Kayden Arrington, but Graford had an answer in the ensuing frame. Lady Rabbits junior Ella Leach doubled with one out and Martin later drew a walk. Then, Trinity Leach came to the plate with runners in scoring position as Martin stole second. The stage was set for the star freshman and she delivered with an RBI double down the line that scored both runners. Leach’s second hit put the Lady Rabbits back in front at 3-1. However, Blum did not back down.
The Lady Bobcats tied the game once again with two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Graford was unable to score in the bottom of the inning and Blum capitalized in the top of the seventh. In that frame, the Lady Bobcats saw four base runners cross home plate – three of the runs coming with two outs. Blum took a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh, and Ringer retired the side to eliminate Graford from postseason play.
“At the end of the day, we’re both very equal teams, and it just came down to who was going to put the bat on the ball,” Lemley said. “We know what to do and we know how we can go in and fix that for next year. We will be back here, for sure. It’s motivation – I love it. This has hands-down been one of the most enjoyable softball seasons that I’ve coached. The girls are so coachable and have such great attitudes. They came to work every day, they did what I asked, they adjusted when I told them to adjust – this group of girls was just amazing. This season was super special.”
Graford’s successful season came to an end after a 10-10 record (8-4 district) and a regional quarterfinal championship.
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