ROCKWALL — With Mansfield Legacy chipping away at an early deficit, Lucas Lovejoy senior Amanda Gray lined a two-run home run to re-establish a lead in an 8-3 victory in the opener of a best-of-three Class 4A regional final.
Gray’s two-out homer to right center was her eighth of the season and third of the playoffs.
“I wasn’t sure if it was a home run,” Gray said. “I didn’t know until I saw my teammates coming out of the dugout. I was just thinking about getting the run in from third. I haven’t changed much [at bat] except to keep working on being a selective hitter.”
Lovejoy (33-8) and Legacy (31-8) play Game 2 at 1 p.m. Saturday at Rockwall with a Game 3 following if necessary.
Gray gave Lovejoy a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning with an RBI single after a pair of walks. Sophomore Amanda Connor added a two-run single.
Legacy rallied within 3-2 in the fourth inning after senior Kolbee Gray scored both runs.
Lovejoy took a 5-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning as Amanda Gray homered to drive in senior Sammie Curry.
“That was huge, a game-changer for us,” Lovejoy coach Amanda Douglas said. “We needed something big.”
At catcher, Gray provided one of two key defensive plays as she threw out Legacy’s leadoff runner trying to steal in the bottom of the first. Lovejoy junior Autumn Keefer also helped douse a Legacy rally with a running catch in right field. Lovejoy capitalized on Legacy errors to take an 8-3 lead with a three-run sixth inning. Lovejoy scored its first five runs against Legacy’s hard-throwing junior Kendall Potts, a Baylor commit who has made a surprising comeback after a mid-season wrist injury.
In its second regional final in three years, Lovejoy is a victory away from its first state tournament.
“We’re staying humble and working off that,” Gray said. “We talk about staying focused on one at bat at a time and an inning at a time. That’s all we’re thinking about.”
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