District rivals Lovelady, Groveton prepare for 2A Region III Championship series
EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Lovelady is hoping the third time is truly the charm when it comes to them winning the 2A Region III softball championship while Groveton is looking to keep a historic season going.
In 2019 and 2021, the Lady Lions lost to West Sabine. In 2019 it was a walk off home run. In 2021 it was a walk off double. This year the team has made it their goal to finally get to state. They have roared through the playoffs, outscoring their opponents 82-3. Only one game was not a run-rule finish.
“At the beginning of the year we were fully staffed and we had the whole year in front of us,” Lovelady head coach Jordyn Hester said. “We were excited about the season and then it seemed like something would happen. We lost a girl to an ACL injury and then we had another girl with some eye problems that was out for two rounds of the playoffs. We have been understaffed a lot this season but every week a new girl steps up and every game a new girl shines.”
Across the field from the team in the other dugout will be the Groveton Lady Indians. The talk all year has been about Lovelady being in the game. Many people thought West Sabine could have returned for the end of a trilogy with the Lions but the Lady Indians have played the role of spoiler through the bracket. This will be the first time the program has ever played in a regional championship.
“It is something that everyone is going to remember,” Groveton senior Anna LaRue said. “We will be talking about this at the family reunion for the next 20 years.”
Groveton finished second in district play behind Lovelady. Their only two district losses were to the Lady Lions, 10-6 and 10-0. The team is ready to play spoiler one more time.
“The girls have been excited the whole time,” Chris Sexton. “We found our stride after the Joaquin series. Family has become the definition of the team.”
Sexton knows not many will give his team a chance but he points out that upsets do happen.
“Every game like this is a big game,” Sexton said. “What makes this different is the familiarity of the opponent. We wouldn’t have it any other way. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best. Lovelady is one of the best.”
The Lady Lions are laser-focused knowing how close they have been to state before. They do not want to let this chance slip away.
“We have been there and we made the plays and had the hits but it just did not go in our favor,” Lovelady third basemen Linda Martinez said. “We are focusing on the now and not letting the past affect us.”
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