LIVE OAK, Fla. — After taking some time off during spring break and not playing a game in 10 days, Lafayette and Suwannee returned to the diamond to face each other on Tuesday. The Bulldogs celebrated Senior Night and players Shelby Blankenship, Alexis Dalton and Summer Thomas, but the visitors from Mayo came away with the win.
LHS produced three runs in the third inning and held onto the lead with Richelle McDonald in the circle to earn a 3-2 victory.
“It was a good win coming off of spring break,” said Hornets coach Derek Garland. “We played good the week before and won two out of three. Richelle is pitching great and we’re starting to play good defense. We have a lot of confidence.”
Lafayette’s big third inning started with back-to-back hits from the bottom of the order. Eight-hole hitter Maddi Koon (2-2, one run) and No. 9 hitter Alexis Koch had singles and then came around to score after three walks and one hit batter in the inning. Jenna Nall (1-3, BB) also scored a run for the Hornets.
McDonald took it from there, preserving the lead with excellent control and a good changeup. She struck out five and pitched all seven innings.
The Bulldogs had nine hits, but left 10 runners on base. Karis Smith led the offense with a 3-4 night. She hit a home run to center field in the seventh inning to get Suwannee within one run at 3-2, but McDonald retired the next two hitters to end the game.
Smith also pitched well in relief, going 4 1-3 innings without allowing a run. Maci Brown went 3-4 while Blankenship, Kaiya Hurst and Natalie Robinson had one hit apiece for Suwannee.
“This wasn’t one of our best all-around games,” said SHS coach Jeff Smith. “We made a few errors, didn’t get that key hit, but give (Lafayette) credit. They played a good game.”
UP NEXT: Suwannee, Lafayette set for district tournaments
Suwannee (7-11) visits Santa Fe on Thursday for its final regular season game. The Bulldogs will be on the road again next week, traveling to Bolles for the District 3-Class 5A Tournament. Suwannee and Bolles will meet on April 30 with the winner facing Baker County on May 2 for the district title.
Despite a record under .500, Suwannee could be a dangerous team in the playoffs. SHS has some impressive wins on its resume this season, most notably a 9-8 victory against Baker County.
“We feel we can play with anybody if we’re working on all cylinders,” said Jeff Smith.
Lafayette (8-11) also looks to be a dangerous team heading into the playoffs. The Hornets have won three of their last four and will play two more games this week before the start of the district tournament at Madison County.
LHS faces Hamilton County on April 30 with the winner moving on to face Madison County on May 2 for the District 5-Class 1A Championship.
“We know Madison is a great team, but any given night, if Richelle throws her best, she’s going to give us a chance,” said Garland.
Bulldogs outlast Hornets on the baseball field
Suwannee and Lafayette also met in baseball action on Tuesday. The Bulldogs broke a 5-5 tie in the fifth inning with three runs and went on for an 8-6 victory.
Trett Wadford went 2-2 with a triple and four RBIs, Kolby Pickles hit a triple and drove in two runs, and the Bulldogs improved to 15-7 on the season.
Starting pitcher Dylan Mock threw two scoreless innings and also had one hit and one RBI for the Hornets, who dropped to 11-6. Landen Brock had a double for LHS.
Dalton Croft and Ryan LeNeave had two hits apiece for Suwannee.