Poovey, Davis-Nance led new cast of players
SAGU soars from two wins to 13 in one year
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University softball team of 2013 bore little resemblance to the one that preceded it.
Introduced in their first-ever season in 2012, a warm welcome gave way to reality’s starkness in a two-win, thirty-loss debut.
This spring the Lady Lions took the field with a line-up that featured only two starters from their inaugural campaign. Head Coach Tim Grant’s 2.0 version would prove to be very improved.
After a 10-7 start, the club struggled down the stretch due to injuries and a depleted roster. Still, a 13-24 mark was in sharp contrast to its predecessor.
Kasey Poovey (Nevada, Tx / Community HS) and Shannen Davis-Nance (Enid, Ok / Kremlin-Hillsdale HS), the holdovers, were key performers. So were a transfer and several freshmen, each making a great first impression.
The left side of the infield charged out of the gate with gusto, turning double plays and heads!
Shortstop McKinlee Stokes (Pampa, Tx / Pampa HS) hit .441 as a lefty, jumpstarting the attack in the first 17 games. Poovey, who anchored first base, took charge at short when Stokes missed the remaining 20 games.
What she may have lacked in mobility she made up for with a dependable glove, reliable arm, leadership and a .382 bat.
After striking out 10 times in 58 at bats in her freshman season, Poovey whiffed just nine times in 110 tries. A very 'tough out.' She was one of three players to start all 37 games.
The main constant from day one was the play of freshman third baseman Kelsey Coburn (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS). Grittyand focused, her no-nonsense approach was cement to a team with unsettled building stones.
Solid on the hot corner (she led the team with 60 assists/throw outs) and toting a .427 club, Coburn’s season stuck out like a mountain crag.
She also led the team in runs batted in (RBI) with 32, hit three of the squad’s five home runs, and assembled a .624 slugging percentage.
In 117 at bats, like a semi-conductor, she produced a junction, striking out on just seven occasions (one in every 19.5 AB’s). The 'collisions' resulted in 15 extra-base hits, ten of them doubles.
Coburn finished fourth in the Red River Athletic Conference in batting average, third in the NCCAA’s Central Region, and 56th in the NAIA in her freshman year.
Her 32 RBI was fifth best in the RRAC while her slugging pct. was ninth.
She was the cog in the wheel that kept the Lady Lions rolling.
The 5-foot-7 Coburn easily out-hit two of the three third basemen named to the All-Conference team. Only Tarah Moutray (Bacone College), a junior, had higher numbers.
Coburn hit the first and only homer at the new campus ballfield, a frozen-rope down the left field line.
Feliciana Maldonado (Victorville, Cal / Victor Valley) proved to be very valuable. The freshman capably manned the second base position, though she was equally competent at shortstop, the outfield and got a pair of starts at pitcher.
Maldo hit .263, utilizing her considerable speed to score 19 times (third best on the team), while sprinting for seven doubles and two triples.
First base saw a host players adeptly handle the role; Poovey, Davis-Nance, Ashley Abair (Kennedale, Tx / Kennedale HS) and Sierra Hankins (Welch, Ok / Welch HS).
Nance and Abair had the lowest ERA’s on the pitching staff and played at first or second when not in the circle. Nance hit .257, racked up 11 extra-base hits, including a homer, and was fourth on the team in RBI’s with 17.
Poovey and Abair were the second and third toughest players to fan. The latter whiffed seven times in 101 at bats; once every12.2 AB’s, while Poovey went down nine in 110 (12.2). Poovey also smacked a home run.
Hankins, the MVP on the SAGU women’s basketball team, joined the team in March and April. Her mitt was a reliable target and a .364 batting average earned her nine starts in the final month.
Theresa Ballard (Austin, Tx / Homeschool), a regular in 2012, played a dozen games and hit .250.
The play of outfielders advanced. The group turned in a handful of great catches.
Mata (MAH-ta) was errorless in center while Blayr Huff (Keller, Tx / Liberty Christian) had a lone miscue in rightfield when she wasn’t pitching. Huff snared a few liners in the gap and down the line as well as a diving grab in shallow right.
At the plate was where Huff was very steady.
The freshman batted .314, drove in 19 runs – which was third highest on the team, and whacked eight extra-base hits. Her threetriples led the Lady Lions and were fifth best in the RRAC. Playing all 37 games, she coaxed 12 walks from opposing pitchers.
Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) turned in a handful of web gems.
Against Bacone College she leapt to haul in a would-be homer. She was credited with snags at the fence, in foul territory and several while fully-extended.
Krock, who also played for the SAGU women’s basketball team, reaching double figures eight times, started all 23 games after her hoops season finished. A lefty at bat, she swatted .280 at leadoff.
A major setback early in the season was the loss of Iliana ‘Loni’ Jimenez (Crystal City, Tx / Crystal City HS) to injury. The leftfielder played in all 28 games a year ago before going down after only six in February. It created the opening for Krock.
SAGU’s arms race saw four hurlers reduce the club’s Earned Run Average (ERA) from a permeable 10.73 in 2012 to 7.05 this year.
A year ago the Lady Lions held opponents to five runs or less just four times in 30 games. This year that number rose to 14. They also reduced games in which the opposition scored 10 or more runs from 12 occasions in 30 outings to nine in 37.
The need for reducing walks and increasing strike outs was paramount for competing at a higher level.
The Purple Pride did just that.
In 2012 they gave out 95 free passes (3.2 per game) while whiffing only 42 batters for a -53 ratio. This spring witnessed 103 base on balls (2.7 per gm) and 107 batters retired on strikes, a +4 ratio.
Abair and Davis-Nance bore the load of innings pitched with 97 and 89 respectively. Huff tossed 31 and Maldonado another 13.
In terms of games started both Abair and Nance had 15 each, while Huff and Maldo had five and two.
After transferring from Frank Phillips College (Tx), near Amarillo, Abair proved to be quite the competitor. She led the staff with a 5.18 ERA, 15th best in the RRAC, including SAGU’s first-ever shutout, a two-hit 4-0 win over Hillsdale College.
The sophomore had a 4-6 record and a save while topping the club with 47 strike outs and eight complete games.
Nance posted the most wins with a 6-13 mark. Her 7.42 ERA ranked No. 19 in the Red River. Control was her strength. She allowed only 16 walks and rang up 40, a +24 ratio that easily led the team.
Huff’s 3-3 record was the best in terms of winning percentage. She got the win (five inning four-hitter) in a 16-5 rout of Texas College, the largest margin of victory all year.
Handling the varying styles of SAGU hurlers was senior catcher Heather Wyatt (Lake Jackson, Tx / Brazoswood HS). She batted just .250, though it was her defensive prowess that solidified the bullpen.
She led the team with 128 putouts, including tags at the dish, and threw out 18 runners.
Coburn was named to the All-Region team by the National Christian College Athletic Association. She was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Wyatt garnered the squad’s Defensive Player of the Year, while Davis-Nance was recognized as the Most Improved Player.
Mata was named the winner of the Lions Pride award.
SAGU will return the core of the 2013 team and has added an outstanding recruiting class. Pitching, catcher, centerfield and infield depth were likely recruiting aims for bolstering the line-up.
The Lady Lions report for fall camp in September. Home games are played on campus with the season beginning in late January.
Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 469-658-2847.
NAIA Official Player Statistics:
Photos by Steve Patterson (Red Oak, Tx) of Moving Pictures. To view and/or purchase from hundreds of photos of softball and other SAGU sports, click on: http://movingpictures.photoreflect.com/