By CHRIS BOOTHE
Just like in game one, the Grapeland Sandiettes jumped out to a big lead during Saturday's decisive Game 3 against the Joaquin.
The only difference is this time the Sandiettes never let off the gas on their way to a dominant 12-2 win over the Lady Rams in the do-or-die regional semifinal game.
With the win, Grapeland moves on to its third regional final in four years, where they will take on Beckville. It’s the third-straight year the teams will meet in the postseason.
The Sandiettes scored early and often, scoring in each of the first four innings, putting Joaquin in an early hole.
Jayde Westbrook set the table for the Sandiettes, singling to start the game. After stealing second and third base, Westbrook would come around to score on a RBI single by Clara Shaw. Shelby Frauenberger then doubled to centerfield, setting the table for the red-hot Shelby Bruner.
Bruner came through, shooting a hard ground ball through the infield, scoring Shaw. Julie Riess would then leg out an infield single, scoring Frauenberger to give the Sandiettes a 3-0 lead.
Joaquin finally forced the first out of the game, as Amy Brown lifted a sacrifice fly into right field that scored Bruner, giving the Sandiettes a 4-0 advantage.
From there the route was on, as sophomore pitcher Baylee Lumbreraz was quick and efficient on the mound.
The Sandiettes picked right back up in the second inning where they left off in the first, as Cheyenne Mixon singled to left field to open the frame.
After a RBI triple by Westbrook, the top of the order continued to pound the ball.
Frauenberger shot an RBI single into centerfield, and came around to score two batters later on a single by Riess, pushing the Sandiettes lead to seven.
A two run single by Frauenberger in the third gave the Sandiettes a 9-0 lead. Grapeland added three more runs in the fourth inning to open up a double-digit lead with the score sitting at 12-0.
A walk, an error and a double for Joaquin put the Lady Rams on the board in the fifth inning, but a bizarre final play ended the Lady Rams season.
With runners on first and second, Joaquin's Jordan Welch lifted a shallow pop fly to Atlana Watson at second base, incurring the infield-fly rule.
A collision between Watson and Westbrook led to a dropped ball, and with Welch automatically out due to the infield-fly call, Tristan Wilkerson attempted to advance to third after the drop.
But, she was promptly thrown out for the game ending 4-5 double-play.
Frauenberger led the way offensively by going 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Riess and Mixon each added three hits in the win, combining for three RBI and three runs scored.
Westbrook sparked the offense by going 2-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases in the win.
Bruner added a 2-4 performance at the plate, adding to her stellar total against the Lady Rams. The senior first baseman went 8-for-11 at the plate in the series, while adding her fifth home run of the postseason.
Typically a strikeout machine, Baylee Lumbreraz leaned a little more on her defense, as the sophomore struck out just three in the series finale, but held the Lady Rams to just two runs (one earned) on two hits.
Game 1 of the Grapeland/Beckville regional final is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Nacogdoches High School. Game 2 will be at 4 p.m. Saturday at Nacogdoches, with Game 3 to follow at 6 p.m. if necessary.
Despite Grapeland winning Game 1 of their regional quarterfinal series last year, the Ladycats won Games 2 and 3 to advance. That series was a rematch of the 2011 regional final, which Grapeland won despite dropping the first game.