HS Softball: Lady War Eagles Explode at the Plate to Defeat Rivals Grand Oaks

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 04/09/2024


OAK RIDGE NORTH, TX -- The Oak Ridge Lady War Eagles (25-4) picked up a crucial 8-3 victory over the Grand Oaks Lady Grizzlies (17-14) to remain in the district title hunt.

Oak Ridge made positive strides early in the matchup, as their fielding and hitting got off to a strong start in the first inning.

A three-up, three-down sequence for the Lady Grizzly batters gave Oak Ridge an early chance to capitalize on potential momentum.

Flashy base-running from Adrienne Thompson put a runner on with one out. A follow-up sacrifice single and wild throw from the Grand Oaks infield allowed Thompson to round the bases for a 1-0 Oak Ridge lead going into the second.

The Lady War Eagles compounded their success in the second inning by only allowing one Lady Grizzly to reach base before sitting down the next three batters.

Success on the defensive end fueled the team’s efforts on offense. A double from Arianna Garcia with two outs seemed like an easy opportunity for Grand Oaks to strand a runner in scoring position. However, a strong swing from Cameron Mendoza brought her teammate home and doubled the lead to 2-0 in favor of Oak Ridge.

Not wanting to let the game slip completely out of control, the Lady Grizzlies took to the offensive in the top of the third inning, intending to swing the momentum back to their side.

The game’s first walk and a sacrifice bunt put a Grand Oaks runner in scoring position for the first time. Ava Butler’s journey around the bags was completed when Larissa Tavares connected for an RBI single to creep within one run of tying.

Abby Garza stepped into the box with a runner still on bases and only one out and delivered a rocket over the centerfield fence. Her home run sent the Lady Grizzlies into a 3-2 lead with a demonstrative statement that left Oak Ridge stunned.

The next inning and a half saw neither team chalk up runs to change the lead in their direction. Back-to-back scoreless innings for the Lady Grizzlies was less than optimal, and the Lady War Eagles would recapture their momentum in the crucial moment.

Following a top of the fifth inning which saw the Lady Grizzlies leave three runners stranded, Oak Ridge got to work reclaiming their lead.

The scoring barrage started with Mendoza getting aboard via a single. Her solid swing was followed by a walk and another single to load the bases with a chance to tie or take the lead. Another excellent display of hitting from Thompson saw her ding a two-run RBI to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Not to be outdone by her teammates, the powerful Ella Boyer stepped into the box with two of her teammates on the basepath. One ping off the bat sent the ball over the outfield fence for a three-run homer that strengthened the Lady War Eagles’ lead nearing crunch time.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Oak Ridge Head Coach Stephani Rougeau praised her players for fighting through adversity and connecting when it mattered most.

“It’s always awesome to see your team perform like that,” said Rougeau. “It feels good that we wanted it and that we finished through this home game playing well.”

The tops of the sixth and seventh innings were Grand Oaks’ last shots to tie the game before they fell in defeat.

A single from Ashlyn Roberts in the top of the sixth could have been the spark, but with two outs and an outfield fly, the chance was quickly snuffed out.

The final nail in the coffin came with one out in the bottom of the sixth and Garcia up to bat. The tired arm of Grand Oaks’ pitcher left an easy throw over the pate that was slammed over the centerfield fence for an 8-3 Lady War Eagle lead.

Oak Ridge had a chance to extend the lead with three runners on, but a pitching substitute and helpful fielding from the Lady Grizzlies meant the Lady War Eagles would have to finish the job in the top of the seventh.

A spark of hope was present for the Lady Grizzlies when Lilly Laney got aboard on a double with just one out. Her effort was in vain, however, as back-to-back outs spurred on by aggressive base running left Grand Oaks with an 8-3 defeat that sends the team into an outside shot of making the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Oak Ridge’s win keeps the team in a constant race with Conroe for the district’s top spot. Any slip-up this late in the season could end any hopes of claiming the district title.

“Our district breaks this tight,” said Rougeau. “We’re trying to fight for a district championship, so every game counts.”

The Lady War Eagles’ fight for a title continues when the team takes on Cleveland on Friday, while Grand Oaks will face another team in the playoff hunt in the form of New Caney.

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