Lady Lions in Ft. Worth on Tues/Wed
Team seeks post-season berth with strong finish
SAGU, Coburn leads RRAC in batting, RBI's
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The contrast between this year and last is as different as mustard and custard.
The Southwestern Assemblies of God University fast-pitch softball team plays a three-game series in Fort Worth on Tuesday and Wednesday that could propel them toward a berth in the Red River Athletic Conference tournament.
Toting an 11-12 record into the trio of games against Texas Wesleyan University, the Lady Lions enter the final weeks of the regular season with contests of consequence.
During the team’s inaugural campaign in 2012, SAGU had a 2-28 mark and were quickly driven to the basement of the RRAC.
They travel 45 minutes along Highway 287 to meet the Wesleyan women (13-17, 6-6 in RRAC) in a twinbill on Tuesday. The first game at Sycamore Park starts at 5:00pm. The nightcap will be under the lights.
The teams will meet at 3:00pm on Wednesday, also in Cowtown. Wesleyan comes into the series on a three-game winning streak while the Lady Lions have dropped four straight and seven-of-nine. The series could bring clarity regarding the team's post-season options.
Starting pitching assignments have not been decided, with all four on the staff likely to see action.
Coverage of the series will include action photos.
DIRECTIONS: From Waxahachie. Take Highway 287 north toward downtown Fort Worth. Exit Rosedale Avenue east. Turn left at the Sycamore Park entrance. The field is the third on the left.
The complex is located less than a mile from the Texas Wesleyan campus.
The dimensions of the field are 210-feet in left field, 225-feet in center field, and 205-feet in right field.
The Purple Pride has 17 games remaining, nine at home, and still has a shot at post-season play, either in the Red River tourney or at the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional in Conway, Arkansas (Apr. 26-27).
What a difference a year makes!
Improved performances throughout the line-up have paved the team’s upsurge.
Last year the Lady Lions were last in the RRAC in batting, with a .197 average (187). They were also at the bottom in runs per game at 1.46, which ranked 191 of 194 teams.
Under Head Coach Tim Grant the club has elevated their offensive punch with an RRAC leading .351 BA (#16 in NAIA) and are third in scoring at 6.14 (#43).
While defensive errors have declined, the pitching staff’s collaborative earned run average (ERA) has risen to 14.99 (#183). A year ago the hurlers combined for a 10.77 ERA (#189).
Individually, Kelsey Coburn (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS), a freshman third baseman, is fourth in the conference in batting with a .441 average, while sophomore Kasey Poovey (Nevada, Tx / Community HS) is fifth at .419.
Poovey has been pressed into playing shortstop in recent weeks due to a team roster change.
Coburn, who has a pair of home runs, is tied for the RRAC lead in runs batted in with 27. Blayr Huff (Keller, Tx / Liberty Christian) is second with 16 RBI.
For complete team and player statistics, click here:
Lady Knights joust SAGU, 11-6, 8-2
SAGU lost a home doubleheader on Thursday to Northwood University (12-10, 9-2 in RRAC).
GAME ONE: In the opener the Lady Lions battled the Knights evenly until the later innings in an 11-6 setback. SAGU overcame a 3-0 deficit in the top of the first with four runs in the bottom of the frame.
Northwood took a 6-5 lead into the fifth inning before tacking on three runs on a triple, double, walk and a single to seize control.
The turning point occurred in the Lions’ half of the inning.
Loading the bases with no outs and the top of the batting order coming to bat, SAGU produced just one run. A ground ball to third forced the lead runner at the plate.
Feliciana Maldonado (Victorville, Cal / Victor Valley) lashed an RBI single to left-center, driving in Ashley Abair (Kennedale, Tx / Kennedale HS).
Anne Dierks (2-0), Northwood’s starter, was replaced by Megan Spence.
She shutdown the Lady Lions’ threat by getting another grounder to third to nab a run at home, before an inning-ending groundout to shortstop.
Spence sat down the side in the sixth on two bounding balls in the infield and a strike out.
Trailing 11-6 in the bottom of the seventh, SAGU’s last chance to rally was also cut short by Spence, who has a 4-1 record.
Abair lined out to leftfield, and then Cassie Mata (Crystal City, Tx / Crystal City HS) sent a hot smash up the middle for a base knock. A fielder’s choice and one more strike out sealed the victory for Northwood.
The Lady Lions had plenty of opportunities as they racked up seven base hits and picked up seven walks, but stranded 11 runners on base.
Two highly questionable calls hurt Team Purp's cause.
An interference call against a SAGU baserunner with the bases loaded in the first short-circuited an even larger scoring surge.
A groundout was negated when it was ruled the Lions first baseman was pulled off the bag.
Three SAGU players collected two hits; Abair, Mata and Maldonado. Heather Wyatt (Lake Jackson, Tx / Brazoswood HS) stroked a line-drive single to center that sent in the first run.
Shannen (Davis) Nance (Enid, Ok / Kremlin-Hillsdale HS), who replaced Maldonado in the first, absorbed the loss. She allowed six runs in 4.2 innings in the circle. Her 7-6 record leads the bullpen.
In 68 innings, Nance is the only pitcher who has struck out more batters (26) than she has walked (10).
Maldonado started and later finished the game, yielded five runs in 2.1 innings.
GAME TWO: The second game, an 8-2 loss, was a 2-1 game until the fifth inning. A pair of doubles by NU’s senior Shelby Johnson sparked the visitors to single runs in the first and third.
The Lions tied the game in the first with a solo tally. Leftfielder Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) led off with a single, a looping liner down the rightfield line, before swiping second.
Following two fly outs to leftfield, Huff - the clean-up batter, poked a single to left with Krock rounding third and scoring in a close play at the plate.
SAGU scored again in the fifth. Coburn was all over a pitch like an iguana on a sand beetle. She crushed a blast to the fence in right-center for a one-out triple. Huff got her home with a hot-hopper that eluded the third baseman.
The Knights broke the game open with six runs in the fifth. Four singles, a fielder’s choice and a groundout gave Northwood a 4-1 lead.
A two-out, dropped fly with the bases-loaded allowed three runs to cross the dish, all but deciding the outcome.
Northwood pitcher Meagan Flores was impressive. She went the distance with a complete game five-hitter. She walked three and fanned two.
Krock led SAGU with two hits in four at bats. Coburn, Huff and Nance each had one hit.
SAGU hosts MACU on Friday afternoon
SAGU welcomes Mid-America Christian University (7-19, 0-12 in SAC) to town on Friday, April 5, for two games. The first is slated for a 2:00pm first pitch.
Then, on Saturday, the Lady Lions will take on MACU in Oklahoma City for a twinbill at 1:00pm.