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Belisle drives in game winner, defense shines

SAGU snaps slump in style; play at home on Thursday

SMILES EVERYONE: The battery mates, pitcher Hannah Lee and catcher Heather Wyatt, had plenty of reasons to smile on Tuesday.IRVING, Texas  --  They didn’t resort to making dirt angels in the infield, but members of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University softball team must be forgiven for acts of giddiness.

The team hadn’t tasted victory in six weeks before Tuesday night. In fact, their unwinning ways had stretched to 25 games. Until Tuesday.

SAGU rallied for a 6-5 victory in the first game of a doubleheader over the University of Dallas and then did the unthinkable. They routed the Lady Crusaders 12-4 in the nightcap to create what before seemed unreasonable: a winning streak!

The drought included several last inning setbacks. Coupled with the loss of key players to injuries, ending the dearth of dubyas (‘W’ as in wins) was dim.

Players related well to Dr. Seuss in “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

“When you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Still, Head Coach Tim Grant’s Lady Lions kept battling.

After losing a 3-0 first inning lead the Purple Pride scored an unearned run in the sixth inning to tie the game at 5-5. Freshman pitcher Hannah Lee (Hardinsburg, Ky / Breckinridge HS) escaped a jam against the Crusaders in their next at bat to give her team another chance.

Senior catcher Heather Wyatt (Lake Jackson, Tx / Brazoswood HS) walked to start the top of the seventh. She advanced on a sacrifice bunt to the first baseman by Lee. A groundout later she was hugging third when Amber Belisle (Roseville, Cal / Whitney HS) (bah-LIE-yul) strode to the plate with two outs.

The outfielder from the Left Coast then cracked a sinking line-drive into the outfield. U-of-D’s Avery Finch charged from centerfield and launched herself forward in a diving bid to snare Belisle’s blast. It drew turf before leather as Wyatt darted across the dish with the lead.

Protecting the lead in the bottom of the seventh, Lee, who had been tagged for two homers by Alex Compte, faced the top of the order.

The first batter drilled a screamer that third baseman Kelsey Coburn (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS), standing at the hot corner, gloved for the first out.

The ensuing batter did similarly, smacking one down the leftfield line. Belisle, secured “she-ro” status by laying out and latching onto the would-be double.

Lee wisely walked Compte before retiring the next batter on a ground ball to earn a well-deserved victory.

Belisle and Lynette Riggs (Leupp, Az / Flagstaff HS) led the team with two hits each. Coburn scored twice and drove in a run with a first inning double. SAGU collected eight hits and four walks.

Lee picked up the win, her team-leading fourth, by scattering nine hits over seven innings. She walked two and struck out three while allowing five runs, one of them unearned.

Britney Johnson (Tahlequah, Ok / Tahlequah HS), the team’s leading hitter (.355) had to sit out the twinbill. It brought her total of missed games to 16 due to ailments. She still relished the win from the bench. The right-handed pitcher plans to play in the final homestand next week.

“The highlights of the night was Kelsey’s line-shot catch and the diving catch by Amber. We were up by one and those catches, back to back, made a huge difference in the way the game could have ended.” 

“I wish I could have been part of the win, but it was all them (referring to her teammates). They're amazing! I love my team!”

“We worked together as a team and everything just seemed to fall into place,” chimed in Coburn, who is hitting .331 with 20 RBI. “There was amazing play after amazing play."

“It was truly a great game of softball! You could tell by the energy we had as a team. We never got down on 

Game Two  /  Lady Lions roll past Crusaders, 12-4

The nightcap was all-SAGU. Rapping 16 hits, all but two of them singles, the team had their hitting shoes firmly laced up.BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE: Lynette Riggs ripped a pair of hits in both games.
 Riggs, who had two hits entering Tuesday, racked up two in both games. Her single to left-center drove in Amber Gignac (Houston, Tx / Homeschool) with the game’s first run.

The team then added five run outbursts in both the second and third innings to build an eleven run lead en route to a 12-4 conquest.

For just the third time this season, the game was called after five due to the eight-run mercy rule... in SAGU's favor!

Brenda Moody (Alvarado, Tx / Alvarado HS) jump-started the second with a single up the middle. Moments later it was Coburn crushing a two-run double to left.

Wyatt went shopping at the Gap. Her triple to right-center knocked in Coburn. Then it was Lee poking a single through the right side of the infield to make it 6-0.

Meanwhile in the circle, Feliciana Maldonado (Victorville, CA / Victor Valley HS) was pitching a no-hit, shutout until the third. She went on to pick up the win, her first as a pitcher.

In the third frame the team’s knees wobbled. The defense made three errors and Maldo was touched for two hits and a walk. Two runs had scored and the bases were loaded with one out.

The fiery 5’4 sophomore was in a bind.

Compte, the Crusaders’ power queen was next. Maldonado bowed up and retired her on strikes, the last one swinging. She did the same to Alyssabel Garcia.

She finished with a complete game, four-hitter. Surrendering just two earned runs, the right-hander walked one and whiffed a career-best eight batters.

By the time Dallas came to bat in the fourth they trailed 12-2.

Coburn led the assault by going 4-for-4. Gignac, Bethany Krock (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian), Wyatt and Riggs all contributed two hits apiece.

Coburn, Wyatt and Riggs also had 2 RBI’s while Gignac and Maldonado led the scoring parade by dashing across the dish three times.

“The Lady Lions never gave up, even when we were behind,” said Assistant Coach Michelle Howington. “We played hard from start to finish of both games.” 

“We were able to put a solid defense on the field and everybody did their part at the plate,” she continued. “The improvement the girls have made since the last time we played U-of-D is something to be very, very proud of.”

The NCAA Division III Crusaders took both ends of a February 8 twinbill, 6-3 and 7-0. UD's overall record dropped to 10-24.

Point of View:  Wyatt and Coburn

Wyatt, who is a senior academically but a sophomore athletically, summed up the sweet performance of her team.

“When we first stepped onto the field I had a feeling things were different than our previous games,” she pointed out. “It was like we were expecting a win.”

“Before we went into our first inning I told the girls to just have fun, play the game they love, and give 100%.”

“In the first game we scored three runs in the first inning and that definitely got us pumped for the rest of the game,” she said. “Although it was a tough game, we buckled down, dug our heels in the sand, and stood strong.”

“The second game was a whole different story,” Wyatt explained. “Our bats were awake and we weren't afraid to use them. Every girl got a hit!”

The 5-foot-8 Wyatt, whose home is 50 miles south of Houston, praised the mound-work of Maldonado.

“Feliciana's change-up was on point. She was striking out their big hitters with multiple change-ups in the same at bat, some even back-to-back.”  

“This was exactly what we needed to finish off our season. I am so proud of everyone. It's a privilege to be called their Captain.”

Coburn credited the win to team chemistry.

“It was flowing tonight,” she said. “The bats were rolling and Hannah and Feliciana pitched great. We were loose, relaxed, and ready to play some ball.”

The team losing skid and batting slump were easily forgotten on Tuesday.

The Lady Lions had the attitude of Yogi Berra, the legendary New York Yankee, who often struggled at the plate.

“Slump?” he once answered to inquiring reporters, “I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hitting.”

Home Doubleheader on Thursday against SWCU

SAGU will be home this Thursday, April 17, when Southwestern Christian University (12-29 overall / 3-21 in SAC) visits for a doubleheader. The first pitch is set for 2:00pm (CST).

Next week the team plays two at Northwood University (Tx) on April 22, then wraps-up the regular season when Hillsdale College (Ok) comes to town in a four-game series, Apr. 25-26.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at or at 469-658-2847.
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