TxC blanks Lady Lions
Ballard, Burke each rap pair of hits
SAGU finishes season on Saturday in OKC
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Second baseman Theresa Ballard (Austin, Tx / Homeschool) and Kyla Burke (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) each stroked two hits, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Southwestern Assemblies of God University was blanked, 9-0, by Texas College on Tuesday afternoon in the Lady Lions' final home game.
The game was a match-up of two teams battling to escape the basement in the Red River Athletic Conference. They had split two contests a week ago with each team scoring 10 runs.
Today a fired-up Lady Steers team scored in every inning and rolled to an easier-than-expected win that evoked the mercy-rule in the fifth inning.
A week after Lauren Johnson (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) held the Lady Steers to two runs; they wore their hitting shoes this time around.
Johnson escaped the first inning when TC banged three hits. The next four innings, however, they added two runs each. The right-hander struck out three and issued only one walk.
What fueled the Steers was an aggressive approach on the basepaths that led to a pair of stolen bases and eight SAGU passed balls that allowed runners to advance into scoring position. Combining three Lions errors and 14 base hits – all nine starters had at least one, a runaway was understandable.
Chatter that mattered
Still, the loquacious Chelsey Doyle (Seattle, Wa / Shorecrest HS) rallied the team with dugout chants, repetitions and cheers that could be heard across the campus ballpark.
SAGU defense roars during big plays
Three solid plays by the defense kept the score at close at it was.
First baseman Kasey Poovey (Nevada, Tx / Community HS) fired a relay from rightfield just in time for Kelsea Svochak (Ft. Worth, Tx / Bethesda Christian HS) to apply a tag on a runner in the first.
Southwestern benefitted from a super throw in the top of the second.
Centerfielder Bree Lawrence (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) fielded a shot by #3 hitter Tekoah Stevenson and came up firing. Loaded and loaded, her throw made toast of leadoff speedster Essence Vinson in a bang-bang play to Svochak at the dish (see picture above).
Only the Statue of Liberty had a stronger arm than Lawrence on that play.
Two innings later a wild play at home brought cheers from both dugouts.
Steers' third baseman Mariah Williams hit a slow roller in the front of the plate. Johnson charged and grabbed the ball bare-handed and tossed a backhander that Svochak couldn’t reel in, allowing a run to score.
Poovey, who hustled in to back-up the play, scooped up the loose ball. She alertly fired a laser to third where shortstop Kyla Burke (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) was covering. Like a snap-dragon, she caught the ball and nailed a runner trying to advance on the miscue at home (see photo of the tag).
Jour'Dan was the Man
The Lady Steers junior pitcher Jour’Dan Garner was on her game. She whiffed four and walked only one while scattering seven hits, all of them singles. Garner used 70 pitches (13-13-16-12-16) in giving Texas College only their second win of the season, both against SAGU.
She helped her cause by going 2-for-3 while batting last. She hit an RBI double for a 2-0 lead in the second. Then, in top of the fifth, she added the coup de grace with a 2-run homer over the fence in left-centerfield. It was the first HR ever hit out at the campus field.
Garner had four teammates who joined her with two hits apiece.
The Lady Steers are now 2-24 overall and 2-16 in the RRAC, while Southwestern slips to 2-24 and 1-22 in the league.
SAGU's record is better than recent cellar dwellers; Texas College was 1-20 last year, Langston University went 2-40 two years ago and TC (0-20) and Langston (0-23) both were winless in 2009.
TC has eight games remaining in their season, including a pair of 3-game series against Northwood University (15-16, 11-6) and Huston-Tillotson University (10-24, 8-10). Even if they lose all six, their 2-22 mark in the RRAC would be a half game better than the Purple Pride.
SAGU had two very good chances to score.
In the third, trailing 5-0, Ballard singled with one out and took second an errant throw. Burke beat out an infield hit, then stole second base. Svochak hit into a fielder’s choice when the second baseman gloved her grounder and fired home to nab Ballard. Doyle, the Lady Lions’ clean-up hitter, hit a bouncer to first to end the inning.
Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS) had the team’s best hit, and frozen rope to left, but was stranded in the fourth.
Needing two runs in the fifth to continue play, SAGU got a leadoff flair beyond the second baseman’s reach by Johnson.
She was quickly jettisoned on a perfect dart by catcher Miranda Parks as she attempted a steal of second.
Ballard lined a 1-2 pitch to rightcenter to keep hope alive. Burke followed by jumping on the next Garner offering, sending it up the middle, glancing off the bag at second. It was Lions' third straight hit.
Like the fourth, Garner was able to retire Svochak (fielder’s choice) on an 0-1 pitch and fanned Doyle on a full-count delivery to end the game.
Sweet send-off to Svochak
Following the game the coaching staff honored Svochak, a junior, who will end her softball career at this Saturday’s season finale. While her parents joined her in the pitching circle, head coach Tim Grant and assistant coach Rachel Harris presented her with commemoratives and a bouquet of flowers.
Svochak's (SWOH-chak) post-game comments during a Q & A were colorful, thankful and humorous.
Season concludes Saturday
The Lady Lions will travel to Shawnee (east of OKC), Oklahoma, a 227-mile trek, for a 1:00pm doubleheader with Oklahoma Baptist University this Saturday.
Both teams are eighth or ninth in their respective leagues in hitting. OBU averages 4.58 runs per game while batting .315 as a team. SAGU is hitting .198 and scoring 1.60 runs per game.
The Lady Bison are 19-19 overall and 7-11 in the Sooner Athletic Conference (four teams ranked in the NAIA’s Top 20) after getting routed today by 16th ranked St. Gregory’s University, 10-7 and 7-1.
SGU is in fourth place in spite of a 35-7 overall record. The Drovers are 9-6 in the SAC.