Lady Lions softball weekend review
SAGU blanked in Saturday twinbill
Coburn HR, 3 RBI; Mata 2-run double wins game
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s softball team continues to make progress in just their second season of existence. Pitching, defense and batting have advanced considerably since last year’s 2-28 debut.
Saturday, with the red-hot third place University of the Southwest (Hobbs, New Mexico) in town for a four-game series, the Lady Lions’ bats were as dormant as warmth this weekend.
After splitting with the Lady Mustangs on Friday, SAGU was shutout twice, 6-0 and 15-0, at the new campus playing field. The first game counted as a league game in the Red River Athletic Conference, the nightcap did not.
Still, SAGU has an 11-10 overall record, and, at 5-7 in the RRAC, they remain in the hunt for a berth in the conference tournament. The top six teams qualify, with SAGU currently occupying fifth place.
Head Coach Tim Grant’s ballclub has four 3-game series remaining; two at home.
The team hosts a critical doubleheader this Thursday, March 28, when Northwood University (4-10, 1-2 in RRAC) visits for a 2:00pm start. The third game in the series will be played on Tuesday, April 16, also at 2pm.
The games were originally slated for March 7-8.
SAGU also plays three at Texas Wesleyan University (10-17, 3-6 in RRAC), April 2-3; then hosts Bacone College (9-12, 8-1 in RRAC) during April 12-13, before traveling to Austin to face Huston-Tillotson University (1-19, 1-5 in RRAC) on April 19-20.
The Lady Lions are also contending for a spot in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional tourney, which will be held in Conway, Arkansas.
Recalling Saturday' Doubleheader
In Game One on Saturday, the Mustangs’ ace Ciara (SEE-air-uh) Fraher (FRAY-uhr) brought her A-game. The junior, now 7-5, shutout the Lady Lions with a complete game two-hitter.
Fraher leads the RRAC in strikeouts and had a 2.58 earned run average entering the series. It was her fourth shutout this spring.
SAGU didn’t get a base hit until the bottom of the fourth when Kelsey Coburn (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) lined a single over the head of the first baseman Brisa (BREE-sah) Valenzuela.
The Purple Pride’s second hit came when catcher Heather Wyatt (Lake Jackson, Tx / Brazoswood HS) ripped a hot smash to right-centerfield in the sixth.
Southwest, as they did in all four games, scored in the first inning. This time they set the pace by using a leadoff single and four doubles to open a 4-0 advantage.
Ashley Abair (Kennedale, Tx / Frank Phillips College, Kennedale HS), a sophomore right-hander, seemed to settle down in the second. Then, with two outs and one runner on base, Fraher smacked a fly ball to left.
Well positioned, it somehow eluded Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) at the fence (see photo on right). It was Fraher’s third homer this year.
Grant brought Shannen (Davis) Nance (Enid, Ok / Kremlin-Hillsdale HS) in to pitch in the third. She yielded zilch in the way of runs for the remaining five frames. The righty gave up just four hits behind a defense that made several good plays.
Wyatt snared two foul pops, one near the fence, and the other on her knees.
Coburn, who was errorless the entire weekend at the hot corner, snagged two infield flies in foul territory. She also displayed a hoover as she handled well-hit grounders and an accurate arm on deliveries to first.
Blayr Huff (Keller, Tx / Liberty Christian) turned in a handful of catches in rightfield. Two were overhead snares and another two were looping liners she tracked down.
Game Two on Saturday
USW’s Natalie Ortiz (2-2), whom the Lady Lions defeated on Friday, 5-3, scattered four hits in the second game.
SAGU threatened late when Wyatt and Abair walked. Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS), who recently joined the team, pounded a single to rightfield to load the bases. Ortiz regrouped and got the next batter on a strikes to protect the shutout.
The Lions gave Feliciana Maldonado (Victorville, Cal / Victor Valley Christian) her first collegiate start in the circle.
She held the Fillies to one hit and no runs in the first two innings. Maldonado sat USW down on six ground balls. But they broke the game open in the third.
A series of singles got the rally going, before a costly misplayed ball in centerfield allowed three runs to score in what became a nine-run outburst.
Huff relieved in the fourth, but the outcome was already decided.
USW (13-10, 8-4 in RRAC) added four runs on four hits that inning and tacked on two more in the fifth on two hits.
The second game did not count in the conference standings. Southwest is located 415 miles due west of the Metroplex, making a fourth game more worth their while after such a lengthy road trek.
A year ago the Lady Lions were swept by the Hobbs Squad and were outscored 31-4 in the process.
USW has gone 11-4 in their last 15 games. They have posted eight shutouts in the hot streak, and in the process, have outscored their opposition by an 81-28 count.
SAGU’s development this year has been even more impressive considering they have lost at least two starters for the season due to injuries.
The addition of Krock and Hankins from the basketball team has not only helped fill the void, but has provided the team with players with solid high school experience.
Friday Highlights: Coburn goes yard
During the club’s 5-3 triumph over the Mustangs, Coburn crushed the first home run ever hit by SAGU at their new campus ballpark. She unloaded on an inside, 1-1 pitch, driving it deep down the leftfield line and beyond the 203-foot barrier.
Trailing 3-1 in the third, Team Purp put together an impressive rally.
Cassandra 'Kassy' Mata (Crystal City, Tx / Crystal City HS) walked on five pitches. Krock singled to left, bringing up Maldonado. After falling behind 0-2, she battled back to rip a shot to left to fill the bags with ‘Cats.
Coburn followed Maldonado’s example with a five-pitch dual, blasting a two-run single to right-center to knot the score.
SAGU took the lead for good in the fourth with two more scores.
Abair was rewarded with a seven pitch walk, and Wyatt got on board when her grounder was too hot for the pitcher to handle.
Mata (MAH-tah) followed with a double to the fence in centerfield that sent both Abair and Wyatt to the dish for a 5-3 lead.
SAGU could have added another run, but Mata was injured while trying to score from third. Later in the game, Wyatt hammered a double that ended with a questionable out-call at third that nabbed the lead runner.
Krock turned in a fabulous catch with a leaping grab on the line.
Abair kept the Mustangs off balance with an assortment of pitches, including an effective rise ball that batters couldn’t lay off of and couldn’t hit.
She allowed seven hits over seven innings.
In the final inning she retired the first batter on a hot shot to third. Coburn made the scoop and a throw to Hankins at first. After a flair that landed in centerfield, Abair (like AY-bear) coaxed Fraher to lift a foul pop that Wyatt ‘earped’ near the wall.
She finished by getting Ortiz on a long fly to Krock in left.
In the first game of the series, Nance, who entered the game in relief, got out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam. She whiffed the next batter, gloved a liner up the middle for the second out, then got the final out on a ground ball.
Fans can catch the Lady Lions in action as their schedule is loaded with home games down the stretch. Admission is free to the general public.