WHITEHOUSE --  It isn't often that Smiley Radke allows runners on base.

Radke has earned a reputation as a strikeout pitcher for Lufkin this season. Through four innings of a closeout bi-district game against Rockwall-Heath on Saturday, she showed why.

Radke was the life of a defense that had the Lady Hawks mostly stifled in a 14-4 victory.

"She is a strikeout pitcher and our defense knows that," Lufkin coach Shelby Holcomb said. "But we also have to make phenomenal plays out here too. She plays with a lot of heart. Altogether, she’s had 245 strikeouts for the year. Not a lot of people get on. When they do, I think sometimes they get a little rattled."

Lufkin was tested in the bottom of the fifth.

The Lady Panthers looked in position to win via run-rule after scoring eight runs in the top of the inning. Sara Mayes started things off with a double and it only took two more batters to drive her in for the inning's first run.

After Lufkin opened the inning with four consecutive hits, Heath began to show frustration. The Lady Hawks committed four errors in the inning, while Lufkin added seven hits. The Lady Panthers held a 12-0 lead as they prepared for potentially the game's final inning.

Meghan McDonald hit a single, only Heath's second hit of the game, to start things off. Shelby Curtis followed with a single of her own and Emi Young's single after her drove in McDonald.

That brought in leadoff batter Jordan Strange, who hit a line drive in between third and shortstop for a two-RBI double. That was enough to stave off elimination for now, but Strange also scored later on an error, bringing the score to 12-4 at the end of the inning.

Holcomb reminded her team of their goal as she sent them back on offense.

“We have to score every inning," she said. "We call it mini-victories. Every inning we have to score the most. After they had that big inning, we wanted to get on base and come back. I never have a doubt. If I lose hope in my girls, they feed off me.”

Lufkin went three up, three down in the top of the sixth, but its defense wouldn't allow a repeat of the fifth inning. It got the final six outs without allowing any more runners on base, and Jasmine Iberra added a two-run home run in the seventh to move the lead back to double digits.

The Lady Panthers advance to face Coppell in the area round. Details for the series are yet to be determined.

“I’m constantly positive, so I think we can beat them," Holcomb said. "They do have a better record than us, but our district is one of the toughest districts in the state of Texas. We have Woodlands. We have Oak Ridge. Montgomery. Unbelievable nationally ranked teams. I think our competition (has been) a little bit harder than theirs. I think that will prepare us to play even better each round.”

Lufkin 14, Rockwall-Heath

6A Region II Bi-District Game 2
At Whitehouse

Lufkin                    220      080     2    --     14    18    2
Rockwall-Heath       000     040   0    --     4    6     7

Pitchers and catchers

  • Lufkin: Smiley Radke and Sara Mayes
  • Rockwall-Heath: Riley Lively (3.1), Shelby Curtis (3.2) and Tristin Court

WP -- Radke
LP -- Lively

Doubles

  • Lufkin: Leah Akridge and Sara Mayes.
  • Rockwall-Heath: Jordan Strange and Delaney Drain.  

Triples

  • none

Home runs

  • Lufkin: Jasmine Iberra.