The eighth state-ranked (31-5) Lone Oak Lady Buffs will take on the fifth rated Mount Vernon Lady Tigers this week to see which team will advance to next week’s final four state 2A softball championship in Austin.
Lone Oak’s Cinderella season continues as the Lady Buffs ride a 16-game winning streak into the Region II-2A championship series. The Lady Buffs have not lost a game in more than two months.
Game one of the series starts at 6:30 p.m. today in Grand Saline. Game two is set for 6 p.m. on Friday in Grand Saline with game three to follow if necessary.
Lone Oak went 10-14 in 2013. finishing seventh in District 14-2A despite scoring a lot of runs. Lone Oak lost no starters from last year’s team and that powerful offense is back featuring four players with home run capability. Now backed by a solid defense and one of the state’s top young pitchers, freshman Mariah Nichols, the team has found success. Nichols has fanned 248 batters this season while only walking 71.
Nichols fired a two-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Whitesboro in game one of last week’s regional semifinal series. She struck out five and walked two.
Kaylee Isenburg’s 12th home run of the season accounted for the game’s only run in the sixth inning.
Kaylee’s sister, Ashley Isenburg, slugged a grand slam homer in the ninth inning of Lone Oak’s 9-5 win over Whitesboro in game two. Nichols also slugged a three-run homer in that game.
Mount Vernon, which is 32-8-1 for the season, opened the playoffs by sweeping Queen City, 17-3 and 8-2, at the bi-district round. The Lady Tigers then outlasted Commerce in a three-game area series, winning 4-3 and 12-2 while losing the second game, 6-3.
Mount Vernon went three games with Prairiland in a regional quarterfinal, winning 7-2 and 6-5 while losing 5-3 and then took care of Brock, 6-2 and 6-1, in last week’s regional semifinal series.
The Lone Oak-Mount Vernon winner advances to the state semifinals on May 28 at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin to face either East Bernard or Natalia.