Jacksonville Daily Progress
The No.4-ranked (Class 3A) Rusk Lady Eagles nailed down the District 19-3A championship by steamrolling Fairfield, 8-0, Friday night at Lady Eagle Park.
Rusk (21-2, 7-0 19-3A) closes out the season tonight at Palestine.
Fairfield, who came into the contest in second place, slipped to 17-11 overall, 5-2 in conference, following the loss.
Friday was Senior Night in Rusk, with Lady Eagles Juliann Bowling and Sydney Littlejohn being honored in a teary ceremony that took place near the 50-yard line of Eagle Stadium following the contest, after a late-game partial power failure that knocked out both banks of outfield lights at Lady Eagle Park forced the battle to be halted with Rusk batting with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning - the game was official after four and a half innings.
And although the focus was on the Lady Eagle seniors, every Rusk starter made solid contributions as the Lady Eagles amassed 11 hits, with each Rusk position player getting at least one hit in the game.
Rusk got on the board first in the third frame when Rachel Miller laced a single up the middle to lead things off.
Miller then moved over to second when the Fairfield third baseman could not come up with a nice bunt dropped down the third base line by Gabby Willis.
Then with one out, the Lady Eagles loaded the bases when Chelsea Daniels got aboard on a fielder's choice after the Fairfield pitcher threw to third to try to get Miller who was the lead runner.
Miller beat the throw to the hot corner and Daniels was safe at first.
Littlejohn then stepped into the box and drilled the second pitch that she received from Kaliegh Mitchell into the gap in right center for a triple that scored both Miller and Willis.
LIttlejohn led Rusk at the plate by going 2-for-4, with 3 RBI.
Bailee Gates also had a multi-hit game (2-for-3) for the winners.
Daniels (triple), Willis (double) and Kelsey Blankinship (double) also notched extra-base hits for the Lady Eagles.
Rusk went on to add three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth segment to salt the win away.
Littlejohn allowed just one hit, a fourth-inning single to shallow center off the bat of Caitlyn Stone.
She fanned 14 and didn't walk a batter.
LIttlejohn needed just 68 pitches to get the job done, with 55 of those being strikes. She threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 18 Fairfield hitters that she faced.
Littlejohn, who now has 957-career strike outs, needs 32 more to surpass Callie Collns' school-record of 988-career strike outs.
The Lady Eagles will close out the regular season at 6 p.m. this evening when they travel to Palestine.
NOTE: Bowling, the daughter of Trey and Kara Bowling will be Rusk's salutatorian this year and plans on attending Texas A&M in the fall where she will join her older sister, Allison...LIttlejohn, who ranks forth in her class academically, will be attending University of Alabama on a softball scholarship...She is the daughter of Paul and Lynn Littlejohn.