By Jay Neal

MALAKOFF — The normally rock-solid Rusk defense had a sub-par performance Thursday night in Malakoff.

The Lady Eagles’ four errors in the first two innings led to four Waco Robinson runs as the Rockettes took a 7-2 lead after the first four frames before withstanding a late Lady Eagle rally with the Rockettes finishing up with a 7-4 victory.

The game was the first of a best-of-3 series between the two schools in Area Round play of the state Class 3-A playoffs.

Game 2, and Game 3 if needed, will also be played at Malakoff High School beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Rusk (32-5) jumped out to a 2-0 lead after a half inning of play as Miranda Westbrook laced a shot just inches inside the line at third base for a game-opening single.

Mallory Westbrook then followed with a bunt-single to put two Lady Eagles aboard with no outs.

Rusk’s runs scored when Callie Collins hit a two-out shot down the left field line that went all the way to the corner for a double.

The Rockettes (17-7) scored one run in the first and three in the second on a combination of five hits and four Rusk fielding errors in the opening two frames to take a lead they would not part with for the remainder of the muggy evening.

Robinson added one insurance run in the third segment and two more in the fourth to build a 7-2 advantage.

The Lady Eagles chipped away at the Rockettes lead late in the game as Christa Adams and Maci Choate opened the top of the fifth with consecutive singles.

Adams plated on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Mallory Westbrook later in the inning.

Rusk’s final run came in the last inning as Calah Clark led off and reached base on a dropped fly ball by the Robinson leftfielder.

Clark reached home on a ground ball out by Miranda Westbrook that came with two outs.

The line score for Rusk read four runs on five outs and five errors while the Rockettes plated seven runs on 11 hits while committing two mistakes.

Rusk left just three runners on base while the Rockettes stranded eight.

Hannah White picked up the win in the circle for Robinnson, striking out six and walking two while Collins was credited with the loss for Rusk, despite fanning 10 Rockettes in the game.

Shawna Switzer and Stacey Boyette led Robinson at the plate as each went 3-for-4 in the contest.

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