Lady Lions yield to long-ball, Lady Rams
Wesleyan wins, 7-5, on late 2-run HR
SAGU turns in big plays, big hits in twinbill
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University softball team had a three-hit performance in the opener by freshman Feliciana Maldonado (Victorville, Cal / Victor Valley), but couldn’t overcome three clutch home runs in dropping a doubleheader to Texas Wesleyan University under the lights on Friday night.
SAGU played very well in both games – especially on defense and in the circle, but could manage just eight hits in 14 innings.
The Lady Rams, now 15-17 overall and 8-6 in the Red River Athletic Conference. SAGU, once at 9-5, are now 11-14 in all games and are 5-11 in league games.
The hosts, owning a 3.41 earned run average, shutout the Purple Pride over the last 11 innings. After winning the first game on a dramatic two-run homer in their last at bat, 7-5, they blanked SAGU 6-0 in the nightcap at Sycamore Park.
The games began at 5:00pm, eventually finishing around 9:30pm under the lights. A crowd of nearly one-hundred young journalists covered the second game. Watch for follow-ups supplied by their writers and photographers.
The first game had a playoff type atmosphere as both squads were battling to secure a place in the RRAC tournament.
Head Coach Tim Grant’s team battled like troopers from start to finish.
Game One: SAGU builds lead with clutch play
They used a four-run third inning to grab a 5-4 lead and held it until Wesleyan tied it with a solo, unearned run in the fifth.
The Rams won it in the bottom of the sixth.
Junior pitcher, Alexis Beltran, was the headline and the story.
The right-handed pitcher is from Upland, California. The town is named for its elevated location. Located west of Los Angeles, Upland is at the highest part of the San Gabriel Mountains.
On Friday, Beltran’s game was ‘Upland.’
She hurled a complete game five-hitter, allowing a lone earned run. It was at the plate, however, where she was the difference.
The 5-foot-4 Beltran (who had 5 hits in the doubleheader), aided her cause with a two-out, big fly to straightaway centerfield. The two-run homer, her sixth of the season, snapped a 5-5 tie and essentially won the game.
She proceeded to sit down the Lions in order in the top of the seventh; two groundouts and a pop-up. In improving her record to 6-5 and lowering her ERA to 2.11, Beltran got the last nine batters in a row.
Since SAGU’s 4-spot in the third stanza, they managed one hit over the last four innings. Of the final 15 batters Beltran faced, she retired 13.
Maldonado had a single, a frozen rope to leftcenter, in the fifth; she was bunted to second by Coburn, but left stranded when the next batters grounded out.
SAGU scored the game’s first run and the first batter produced it.
Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) beat-out an infield single, and then stole second base. She darted to third when Maldonado poked a hit through the left side. She trotted home on an errant throw to second by the Rams’ catcher, who was trying to prevent a steal by Maldonado.
The lead nearly vanished in the Rams’ first at bat.
Two runners were aboard with one out when Beltran drove a liner to the left of shortstop Kasey Poovey (Nevada, Tx / Community HS). The sophomore gloved the ball with a backhanded stab, and then doubled up a runner when she fired to third baseman Kelsey Coburn (Nevada, Tx / Community HS)
Wesleyan regrouped and scored four times in the second - all after there were two outs. They used four hits and a walk – the big one was a double over Cassandra Mata (Crystal City, Tx / Crystal City HS) in center that drove in three.
Trailing 4-1, SAGU answered with four in the top of the third.
Ashley Abair (Kennedale, Tx / Kennedale HS) got on base on an error at third, and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mata. A throwing error on the catcher allowed Mata to reach first on the play. Krock moved them both into scoring position with a bunt.
Maldonado, also from the LA area, pounded a shot that deflected off the pitcher, allowing Abair to come home. Coburn, who is second in the RRAC in batting, smacked one to third that turned into a fielder’s choice when Mata was nabbed at second.
With two outs Blayr Huff (Keller, Tx / Liberty Christian) worked the count before getting a walk, filling the bases with Cats.
Poovey uncorked a two-run double that bounced to the base of the fence in leftcenter. Huff was wisely held at third by SAGU Assistant Coach Nathan Nance. A moment later she stole home for a 5-4 lead.
A walk to Shannen (Davis) Nance (Enid, Ok / Kremlin-Hillsdale HS) kept the rally going, but a grounder to second pulled the plug. The Lions scored four times on two hits and a pair of errors by the Rams.
Wesleyan rose up against Abair in the bottom of the third.
The sophomore was in a jam after permitting two singles and a one-out walk. Sara Sandercock sent a hopper to Poovey at shortstop. She webbed the ball and gunned out the lead runner, Beltran, at the plate. Heather Wyatt (Lake Jackson, Tx / Brazoswood HS) absorbed a collision with Beltran but, like the Canadian Mounties, ‘got her man.’
Meagen Alvarez, batting .351, stepped in with a chance to deliver against Abair. She did, thumping a wicked shot up the middle that was hip-high and smoking.
Fortunately for the Lady Lions, Abair was up to the task, snaring the smoldering rock with an asbestos-lined glove to snuff out the rally. The score remained at 5-4 for the next few innings.
After TWU knotted the contest in the fifth with an unearned run, which scored on a groundout to second, the Rams had SAGU’s narrow lead in peril.
Kendall Kizer started the sixth by lifting a high ball, 190-feet down the rightfield line. It landed fair by less than a foot.
The feisty Abair then dug in her heels.
The next batter tried to hit one past her. She scooped up the would-be base-knock and gunned down the runner with a throw to Wyatt at home.
Emily Burch, toting a .354 stick, rapped one to the hot corner. A fearless Coburn made the play and propelled a throw to Maldonado at second for a fielder’s choice.
Abair (2-2), wasn’t able to prevent Beltran, the Rams' best batter, from her game-winning yard work, the two-run HR to center.
The Lady Lions continue to enjoy the fruits of a vastly improved season. Late in the campaign they are playing games that matter and are strongly contending.
Game Two: Defense, HR's define play
The second game was a defensive stalemate until a three-run shot narrowly got over the fence in left-centerfield in the third inning.
In the bottom of the sixth frame the Wesleyan women put the game out of reach with three more runs.
Following a two-run tater to left by catcher Kali Jester, the Lady Ewes next batter was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on a single to center.
Cheyenne Brown (6-5 record) retired the last 10 SAGU batters in a row, eight of them on grounders. The 5’10 senior yielded only three base hits, all occurring with two outs. She walked none and struck out four.
The Lady Lions had only three base-runners.
In the top of the first inning, after a strike out and a ground out to third, Coburn went shopping at the Gap! She sent a Brown offering deep to leftcenter for a double.
The next batter struck out swinging to end the threat. SAGU didn’t put another runner in scoring position the rest of the night.
A fly out to right and foul pop-up started the second preceding a single from Wyatt. The senior catcher powered a hot smash through the infield on the right side. A short, infield fly to the pitcher cut short the rally.
SAGU managed a trio of solid at bats over the next few innings.
Mata stroked a line-drive up the middle that Brown snared to leadoff the third. Coburn connected on a long fly to center in the fourth that Sandercock chased down.
After a pop to second, Poovey ripped a pitch beyond the first baseman’s reach for a single along the rightfield line. She was stranded there when the next batter grounded out to first.
Nance (6-7) went the distance for SAGU. The sophomore scattered 10 hits, seven of them singles. She didn’t allow a walk and fanned two.
Nance got out of a bases-loaded, no out jam in the second. A single, double and an infield error filled the bags with Rams. She got the first out by coaxing an infield fly to Poovey at shortstop.
Sandercock’s sharply hit grounder to Coburn at third became a fielder’s choice when the ball was gloved and fired to Wyatt at home for a force out.
Nance took care of the last batter herself. Alvarez went down swinging.
Krock turned in a pair of great catches in left.
The designated hitter - Beltran, had a perfect night at the plate, racking up three hits in three trips to the dish. Ashley Siebel, the first baseman, went 2-for-3, with a double and a three-run dinger in the third.
What a difference a year makes
At the end of their inaugural campaign, one that saw the greenhorn Lady Lions endure a 2-28 season, they were outscored by a 263-43 margin. With 10 games yet to be played, at 11-14, the Pride has surrendered 184 runs and have scampered past the plate 134 times.
Photos courtesy of Little Joe Valdez of Texas Wesleyan University.