Flying Lions split pair against Texas College
SAGU ends losing skid with 4-2 triumph
Johnson, Burke, Poovey soar in home win
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Learning to fly, according to a pop tune, has its ups and downs. But landing is the biggest challenge. The ground is very unforgiving.
The new softball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, soared to a thrilling view of the win column with a 4-2 triumph over Texas College in the first game of a Tuesday afternoon doubleheader. The Lady Lions celebrated their first-ever win at home, deservedly so, ending an 18-game losing streak in the process.
Reality returned as they dropped the second game, 8-6. The victory snapped a string of 38 consecutive defeats by Texas College. No wonder they hooped and hollered. The split was tonic for both squads.
As head coach Tim Grant’s young squad earns their wings, each victory helps overcome the turbulence of flight and the unsettled landings. But they are learning and their itinerary has six more journeys into the great wide open.
SAGU will play three games in Muskogee, Oklahoma against Bacone College this weekend. It begins with a 5:00pm (CST) contest on Friday, followed by a Saturday matinee doubleheader at noon.
Bacone (BAY-kohn) is currently 16-19 overall and 11-7 in games involving members of the Red River Athletic Conference. They are tied in fourth place with the University of the Southwest (17-16, 11-7) in the nine team league. SAGU is 2-20 and 1-18.
The Lady Lions have one home game remaining. Next Tuesday, April 17, they will entertain Texas College (1-21, 1-13 in RRAC) at 4:00pm. It is a make-up game for Monday’s rain-out. The winner will likely finish in eighth.
They wrap-up the 2012 campaign with a twinbill in Shawnee, Ok. with Oklahoma Baptist University (currently 18-16) next Wednesday, April 21.
Senior Day honoree: Tabitha Ray
Southwestern honored their only senior, pitcher Tabitha Ray, in a ceremony between games on Tuesday.
Born in Lake Jackson, Texas, which was famous for also being the birthplace of Tejano singer, Selena, and politician Ron Paul, Ray has been a vocal proponent of the effort to begin the softball program at SAGU.
She was presented with an autographed ball, a commemorative jersey and a bouquet of flowers.
Keys to Winning: Pitching, defense, timely hitting
Ray got the start and pitched into the third inning, departing with a 3-2 lead. She fired 63 pitches and surrendered a pair of earned runs on three hits. Four walks led to her being replaced by freshman Lauren Johnson (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS).
Johnson got the final two outs (on four pitches) in the third on a fielder’s choice and pop up to Theresa Ballard (Austin, Tx / Homeschool) at second.
The right-hander picked up the win by going the final four and two-thirds of an inning of scoreless relief. Johnson yielded three hits, one walk, hit one batter and fanned two. Her first career win required 64 pitches.
She benefitted in the fourth when the Lady Steers, who began the inning with back-to-back singles, had their lead runner negated after she was cited for leaving second base early. Johnson sat down the next two batters on a strike out and a pop-up.
In the sixth the Lady Lions stifled another rally. Third baseman Chelsey Doyle (Seattle, Wa / Shorecrest HS) gunned down one runner on a smash to third, then erased a second as she tried to score. Kelsea Svochak (Ft. Worth, Tx / Bethesda HS) applied the tag at the plate.
In the seventh, Johnson went through the order without the ball leaving the infield. Ballard made two of the plays to secure the victory.
SAGU got all the runs they would need in the first.
Ballard walked on five pitches and advanced to third on a sharply hit single between first and second by Kyla Burke (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS).
Svochak (like SWOH-chak) followed with a bases-clearing shot that drew chalk on the right field line, tying the score at 2-2. Kasey Poovey (Nevada, Tx / Community HS) liked that hit so well, she sent a 1-2 pitch in the same area to score Svochak for a lead the team would not relinquish.
The Lions nearly scored again on a hit to left by Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS). Poovey, however, was toast on a great relay from shortstop Jasmine Becks.
Donning their grey jerseys with purple and white trim, Team Lioness tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the second.
Albreshia Lawrence (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) walked and moved to third on a stole second base and a ground out. Burke drove her in with a grounder to second base.
TC pitcher Jour’Dan Garner allowed only six hits and three walks, though most of the damage came early. Bruner led with a 2-for-3 effort, while Burke drove in two.
The Steers had six base hits, five walks and a hit batter. Leaving the bases loaded in the second and third innings without scoring ended golden opportunities.
Steers build lead, hold off SAGU comeback
The second game saw the guests strike early and often while the Lions appeared flat.
Texas College took a 6-1 lead in the third and extended it to 8-1 in the top of the fifth before the Lady Lions made a game of it.
Rallying with two runs in the fifth and a solo tally in the sixth, the Jungle Queens needed four in the seventh. A walk to Bruner, a single up the middle by Lawrence and another base on balls to Ballard loaded the den with Lions. There were no outs.
Burke followed with a clutch smash between the center and rightfielder that rolled to fence. It came on an 0-2 pitch and drove in both Bruner and Lawrence. Ballard however, rounded third, headed for home. She reversed the decision, but was thrown out by the catcher, Garner.
After an infield pop fly, the clean-up hitter – Poovey, representing the tying run, ripped a liner that was snared by the winning pitcher, Olivia Salinas (7 IP, 9 H, 1 K, 4 BB), ending the game.
The Lions scored their first run when Poovey trotted home on a wild pitch to knot the score at 1-1 in the second. The threat died when Loni Jimenez (Crystal City, Tx / Crystal City HS) was thrown out when she attempted a delayed steal of third.
Down 8-1, the home team loaded the bases with no outs; a double past a twisting, turning centerfielder by Shannen Davis (Kremlin, Ok / Kremlin-Hillsdale HS), a single to center by Johnson and a four-pitch walk to Bruner.
An infield fly didn’t move the runners. Ballard grounded out to drive in Davis and Burke’s base-knock up the middle sent Johnson scurrying home. A grounder cut short a big inning.
The next inning started with a double by Poovey and a seeing-eye single past the shortstop off the bat of Jimenez. Davis lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Poovey to slice the deficit to 8-4.
Salinas was able to get out of four jams as the Lady Lions left runners in scoring position.
Defensively, SAGU made three errors that fueled TC scoring.
A dropped infield pop-up that would’ve been a double play in the third led to five unearned runs. Another at third started a two-run fifth, with an errant throw from first to third allowing another score.
Texas College, tied for last in the RRAC in batting, had their second best game of the season. They rapped six hits in the third inning alone.
Not throwing to the cutoff man four times in that stretch allowed hitters an extra base on singles, opening the door to a big inning.
The Lady Lions had a few web gems, including two running catches by Lawrence and Bruner, a Poovey to Burke throw-out, and a dart from Jimenez to Poovey.
Two game totals
During the twinbill, Southwestern pounded 15 hits; three apiece by Burke and Poovey, with Svochak and Bruner getting a pair.
Burke drove in four runs, doubling her season total, while Svochak added two. Lawrence and Poovey scored twice.