Florence vs Little River-Academy Softball

Florence’s Mackenzie Futrell, right, slides safely into second base against Little River-Academy on Tuesday in Florence. Academy won 14-3 in the teams’ District 22-2A opener.

FLORENCE — The Florence Lady Buffs had a big inning to open up District 22-2A play. 

But as much as a big inning can help you, it can also hurt you.

Despite big games from Mackenzie Futrell and Courtney Culp, the Lady Buffs couldn’t overcome allowing nine runs in the top of the third and lost to the Little River-Academy Lady Bees 14-3 in five innings on Tuesday.

“It just seemed like it snowballed on us there,” Florence head coach Brett Gola said. “We kind of got behind and couldn’t climb out of that. It’s the first game of district and you hate to lose like this, but we’ve got 13 more games.”

Futrell was 1 for 3 with a run scored; Culp was 1 for 1 with an RBI while Madison Hill was 1 for 2 with a double.

Florence (5-4, 0-1) jumped out to an early lead on Academy (11-1, 1-0). Futrell led off the home first with a double and scored when Samantha Vaughan grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Vaughan made it 2-0 Lady Buffs when she scored on an infield error later in the inning.

“We can’t just come out here and expect to win,” Futrell said. “We have to fight through it the whole time and don’t think we’re going to get it given to us. We had a good first inning and I think that might have gotten to us a little bit.”

Freshman pitcher Emily Gray was successful the first time facing the Lady Bee lineup allowing just one earned run on a hit and striking out four through the first two innings.

The Lady Bees broke the game open in the top of the third by putting up nine runs on eight hits and Futrell came in to pitch with two outs in the third.

“We really didn’t play much as a team; we got really down,” Culp said. “I think that if we play better next time, we’ll get them next time.”

Gray ended the night with four strikeouts and allowed nine hits while walking three.

The Lady Buffs did make things interesting despite trailing by 12 runs and having two outs in the bottom of the fifth.

After Academy walked the bases full, Culp drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in Clarissa Carranco and cap the scoring.

Gola said despite the score, the game will serve as a learning experience for a team that has only one senior and two juniors.

“We made a lot of mental mistakes tonight that led to runs,” Gola said. “Maybe that will add up to some wins later on once we learn from those mistakes.”

Florence looks to rebound on Friday when it hosts No. 10 Salado. The Lady Buffs play three of their next four games at home.

Contact Albert Alvarado at alvarado@kdhnews.com

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