ABILENE — Despite hitting three home runs, the Early Lady Horns’ softball season came to a close Saturday with a 13-6 loss to the Merkel Lady Badgers in Game 2 of their Region I-3A bi-district playoff series.

After Early’s (16-7) Sydnee Shea knotted the score at 4 in the bottom of the fifth inning with her second solo home run of the game, Merkel (12-9) fired back with nine runs in the top of the sixth inning.

Karlee Hunt led off the sixth with a single for Merkel, followed by an RBI base hit by Kaile Baker that pushed Merkel back in front, 5-4. Brookelyn Casper was then intentionally walked and Kamryn Flores singled to load the bases. Kaitlyn Gammons followed with a two-RBI base hit to right-center field to extend the lead to 7-4. Back-to-back RBI singles from Trubi Borrego and Camry Lopez stretched the advantage to 9-4. Hailey Duncan followed with a two-RBI single, then Hunt and Alexia Balvantin singled in runs before the inning ended.

After a quiet bottom of the sixth, Early added two runs in the seventh as Shea walked and scored on a two-run homer by Emma Loven, but the rally ended there.

Early jumped in front 1-0 as Shea began the game with a solo home run, but the Lady Horns left the bases loaded after a walk by Loven and singles from MaKayla DeLeon and Vance Cady-Gordon.

Merkel seized a 3-1 advantage in the third of the third as Hunt and Balvantin both singled ahead of a three-run homer by Casper.

The Lady Horns knotted the score at 3 in the bottom of the third as Shea doubled and Loven reached on an error, then a single by Gordon got past the Merkel left fielder and allowed two runs to score.

Merkel regained a short-lived 4-3 edge in the fourth.

The District 6-3A co-champion Lady Horns finished the season with four consecutive losses, including two to Comanche which bumped Early out of the top spot in 6-3A.