By JUSTIN RAINS
Grapeland senior Shelby Bruner hadn’t hit a home run all season for the Sandiettes.
She picked a good time to find a power-boost.
Bruner hit not one but two home runs, Baylee Lumbreraz struck out 15 and the Grapeland softball team rolled to a 14-1 victory over Cross Roads to open the playoffs Monday at Palestine High School.
“I haven’t hit one all year. (The first) was really breath-taking,” Bruner said. “Then, the second one just kind of shocked me. It shocked me bad, but I’ve never been so happy.”
Grapeland moves on to the area round of the playoffs, where they will take on Avery. Matchup details are still to be determined.
Bruner’s first bomb, a solo shot, came in the second inning and put Grapeland up 7-0. Her second came in the seventh, and gave the Sandiettes their eventual 14-1 margin of victory.
While Monday’s game technically went the full seven innings before completion, it all but ended in the first inning.
That’s when Grapeland sent 10 batters to plate, scored six runs and all put things out of reach from the start.
Jayde Westbrook set the tone with a lead-off double and then scored on an infield single by Clara Shaw. Shaw then moved to second when Shelby Frauenberger was hit by a pitch.
That brought Bruner, who singled to right to score Shaw and make it 2-0 Sandiettes.
With one out, Amy Brown then ripped a shot to left-centerfield, scoring Frauenberger and Bruner and advancing herself to third on the throw home. She later came around to score on an error by Cross Roads shortstop Rachel Henry on a ball hit by Cheyanne Mixon to make it 5-0. Also coming around to score on the error was Atlana Watson, who had walked and then stolen second.
In the bottom half of the inning, Lumbreraz didn’t waste time, striking out the side and setting the tone for what was to come later in the game.
“I think I did pretty well,” Lumbreraz said. “I could’ve done better. I struggled a little bit.”
Grapeland added a run on Bruner’s first home run in the second inning, then another in the fourth when Frauenberger led off with a single and then moved to second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield.
She moved to third on a groundout by Bruner, and a Julie Riess fly ball to right field was enough to bring her in and put Grapeland up 8-0.
That’s where the margin stayed until the sixth, when Frauenberger again led off with a hit, this one a scorching double to left-center. Bruner followed that up with a single that scored Frauenberger, but was then caught stealing for the innings first out.
That became a theme in the frame, with Julie Riess walking and then getting caught trying to take second in the next at-bat. Brown doubled in the inning but couldn’t get past second.
That meant the game would go the full seven innings, and set up the Sandiettes’ monster final frame.
But, not before Cross Roads got on the board in the bottom of the sixth.
Kaitlin Gordon led off the inning with a walk, and Henry followed that with a single to right that moved Gordon to third.
Kelsi Lookabaugh then walked to load the bases, and a Kennedy Rogers groundout to second was enough to score Henry to get the Ladycats on the board.
But, Cross Roads rally died when Lumbreraz struck out Katelyn Smith and then induced a groundout from Kelsi Carter to Westbrook to end the inning.
In the big Grapeland seventh, Mixon got things going with a single, and Westbrook followed with a single of her own. Shaw then walked to load the bases for Frauenberger.
The center fielder delivered, smashing a single to left that scored Mixon and Westbrook and put two runners on for Bruner.
Just like in the second, Bruner sent the ball toward Benbrook Dr. over the right-centerfield wall for her second home run.
The hit finished her night 4-for-5 at the plate with five RBI and three runs scored.
“The girls rose to the occasion,” GHS coach Jerry Dillard said. “We have everybody here and it helps. I was real proud of them...I’m really pleased with our overall performance.”
Frauenberger was 3-for-4 and was hit by a pitch, scoring all four times she reached base.
Westbrook also had three hits, while Brown finished 2-for-3 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.