Pitchers Abair, Nance tough in the clutch

Game honors teammate, Sierra Hankins

FORT WORTH, Texas  --  A pitcher's duel came down to the wire with Southwestern Assemblies of God University losing at Texas Wesleyan University, 1-0, on a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The outcome was eerily similar to Friday’s first game in the three-game series. Wesleyan came from behind to tie the game at 5-5, then won it in the bottom of the sixth on a 2-run homer by Alexis Beltran. Wesleyan won 7-5.

Against wind gusting over 25 mph on Monday night, it was Ashley Seibel who did the deed for the Lady Rams. The 5'2 junior second baseman is hitting .306.

She led off the same inning by lifting a high fly that weaved and bobbed in the airstream, finally dropping just over the outstretched glove of leftfielder Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Corner Christian). It barely cleared the fence and Krock, both 210-feet down the line.

For a gleeful Seibel (SY-bell), who skipped and hopped as she rounded the bases, it was just her second dinger of the season. Both broke up scoreless games and each were game-winners over Team Purple.

The pitch she hit was a called rise-ball, a fast pitch that elevates through the high strike zone. All pitches are chosen from the SAGU dugout.

Shannen (Davis) Nance (Enid, Ok / Kremlin-Hillsdale HS), a sophomore right-hander, was somber afterwards.

She entered the game in relief of Ashley Abair (Kennedale, Tx / Kennedale HS) in the fourth, and had performed admirably during two shutout innings before the sixth.

Cheyenne Brown made the solo shot stand up when she retired three straight batters in the top of the seventh.

It was her second complete game shutout over SAGU in three days. She fired a 3-hit whitewash on Friday, which, coincidentally, was won on a 3-run HR by Seibel.

During Monday’s single game, Brown allowed just three hits again, and, like Friday, she allowed no walks and struck out four. Her record rose to 7-5 and her ERA dropped to 2.93.

Wesleyan has now tossed 10 shutouts this spring with Brown getting her second.

A defensive stalemate between two evenly matched teams, the game featured several outstanding plays that preserved goose-eggs on the scoreboard.

Hitless through three, the Lions loomed likely in the fourth.

Feliciana Maldonado (Victorville, Cal / Victor Valley) started the frame with fluttering flair into shallow leftfield.

Three defenders converged along the chalked line. The ball somehow avoided them all, falling betwixt and between their hungry gloves as 'Maldo' dashed into second with a leadoff double.

Krock laid down a bunt towards third and sprinted to first, barely beating the throw. It set the table with runners on the corners for SAGU’s RBI leader, Kelsey Coburn (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS).

Aiming to hit a ball deep enough to score a run on sacrifice fly, Coburn thumped one into middle region of left-centerfield. What happened next was a softball rarity.

Sara Sandercock made the catch while moving forward, and then fired a laser to the plate. Maldonado and the ball arrived at the same time, with the catcher, Kali Jester making the catch and tag concurrently.

Jester was wheeled around as she marked a standing Maldonado. She spied Krock, who delayed tagging up, and was en route to second. She slid safely into the base, only to be ruled out by the umpire.

The resulting triple play was challenged by SAGU coaches, but the call stood as unchanged as a regret.

SAGU’s only other hit came in the top of the sixth. Abair, batting with one out, ripped a single to left. Cassandra Mata (Crystal City, Tx / Crystal City HS) followed with a sharply hit liner to shallow right, where Meagen Alvarez was charging.

The 5-foot junior dove forward to rob Mata, and then spring to her knees to throw to first in a bid to double-up Abair. Again, the runner appeared safe only to have an anticipatory call go against SAGU.

The double-play ruling was questioned by Head Coach Tim Grant, but it stood as firm as a stone wall.

Siebel started the bottom of the sixth for the Rams with an 'unquestionable' home run.

Earlier, Wesleyan threatened in the second. The Lady Ewes put two runners on base with one out. Abair hunkered down and got the next batter on a grounder to Coburn at third, then ended the inning by coaxing another ground out.

A dropped fly in left, a single and a stolen base had the Rams knocking on the door again in the third.

A resolute Abair bore down again. Leadoff batter Kendall Kizer hit to fly to Krock if leftfield. After making the catch, Krock triggered a throw to catcher Heather Wyatt (Lake Jackson, Tx / Brazoswood HS), nailing the lead runner.

Abair escaped the jam by getting Beltran, the Rams’ .397 hitter, to pop-up to shortstop Kasey Poovey (Nevada, TX / Community HS) at shortstop.

Wesleyan kept the pressure on in the fourth with a single and a walk, prompting a call to the bullpen for Nance.

She hit the first batter she faced on her first pitch, loading the bases with no outs.

An unwavering Nance enticed the next batter to hit a soft floater that she caught, and then doubled-up the runner at first. She escaped any harm by retiring the ensuing batter on a ground ball.

Again, TWU bid to score in the fifth. A single and an error in left put Emily Burch in scoring position with two outs. Nance sat down the clean-up hitter, Beltran, on an easy infield fly to Poovey (photo above, right).

Supporting a teammate's family

The SAGU team had dedicated their play on Monday in honor of teammate Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS), whose brother died suddenly on Sunday.

Prior to the game both teams paused for a moment of prayer (see photo, left) for the Hankins family, who live in northeastern Oklahoma.

The Lady Lions will return to action this weekend when they host third place Bacone College (13-17, 12-6 in RRAC) for three games on campus.

The opener will take place at 3:00pm on Friday. A doubleheader is on tap for Saturday, April 13, starting at 11:00am (CST). Between games the team will honor their two seniors, Wyatt and Mata, during a brief ceremony.

SAGU also has a twinbill at home on Monday, April 15, against Hillsdale College (Ok); three games in Austin (April 19-20) against Huston-Tillotson University and a home finale versus Northwood University on Tuesday, April 23.

The team hopes to regroup down the stretch to qualify to play in the Central Regional tournament of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). It is scheduled for April 26-27 in Conway, Arkansas.

The Purple Pride, with nine consecutive losses, is 11-17 overall. They are 5-12 in games involving teams in the Red River Athletic Conference.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 469-658-2847.
 

 

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