Lion softball starts strong

Photo Courtesy | Lion Athletics

By BJ Laudermilk | Sports Editor

The A&M-Commerce Lions softball team started their 2018 campaign with four wins in five games in the Colorado Mesa Tournament in Rio Rancho, N.M. last weekend.

The Lions opened their season Feb. 2 with two games, starting off with a game against New Mexico Highlands. The Lions started the game with a couple of hits, including a homerun by Kinsie Hebler, but only led 1-0 after the first inning. The offense struggled the next three innings, and the Cowgirls would tie the game up in the fourth inning. The Lions got a two-out double in the fifth, but couldn’t capitalize and score a run. Finally in the sixth, the Lions got production. They loaded the bases, Mariah Jameyson drove home two runs with a single, and added two more on a sacrifice fly and an RBI single to make the score 5-1. The Lions would add five more runs in the seventh, and take control, winning 10-2.

In the second game, the Lions continued their run production early, scoring seven runs in the first inning, including four runs from back-to-back homeruns by Jameyson and Chealsea Slider, and adding on six more the next two innings, Hebler hitting two homeruns in that span, leading the Lions to a 13-0 beatdown of Adams State that was ended by run rule after five innings. Emily Otto and Katie Dean picked up wins on the first day of the tournament.

The next day saw the Lions split their two games, picking up a huge win over future Lone Star Conference member No. 22 St. Mary’s in the first game 8-2. The Lions jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, and gave Otto a comfortable lead of 8-0 after their fourth inning at-bats. In game two, the Lions battled with No. 8 Colorado Mesa, and had a small lead in the third inning, but were outscored 11-1 in the final four innings, and the game ended 14-6 in favor of Mesa, the game run ruled in the sixth.

The last day of the tournament saw the Lions compete in their closest game of the year thus far. The Lions sent Otto to the circle and she was in a pitcher’s duel with Metro State. After four scoreless innings, the Lions capitalized in the fifth, scoring twice by playing ‘small ball’, bunting, hitting, stealing, and advancing on errors. Otto looked to close it out in the seventh, but the Roadrunners got their first two batters on base, and the Lions made a pitching change, going to sophomore Lacie Bullard. Bullard got two outs, and with both runners in scoring position, she gave up a game-tying base hit, and sending the game to the bottom of the seventh tied. The game looked to be headed to extra innings, but with two outs, Baylea Higgs doubled to center, and Hebler beat out a base hit to second base, allowing Higgs to beat a throw home, as she slid in head first for the winning run, the Lions walking off as 3-2 winners.

Feb. 7 saw the Lions start their home slate of games, and on a chilly day, the Lion bats were red-hot against St. Edward’s. Otto started and allowed an unearned run in the first inning, but nothing through the rest of her six innings. Hebler hit a three-run homer to give the Lions the lead in the first, and the team would not relinquish it, Jameyson drove in three runs, Hebler added another run driven in, and leading 8-1 in the bottom of the sixth, a Slider double drove in Hebler to end the game, the Lions victorious 9-1.

In the second game, the Lions were in another pitcher’s duel, as Bullard kept the Hilltoppers off the board in her three innings of work, and the Lions scored in the third on a Hebler sacrifice fly, and then again in the fourth after an RBI single by Jodie Hill. The Lions led 2-0 after four innings and the game was then halted for the night due to the cold weather. The game will be completed in Austin Mar. 14 before a scheduled doubleheader.

The Lions will be in action this weekend in the North Texas Softball Bash, squaring off with Newman and Oklahoma Baptist Fri. before battling No. 10 Southern Arkansas and Lubbock Christian Sat. The Lions finish off the weekend with Colorado Christian Sun. before returning home to start conference play against Tarleton State next weekend.