Lions crank up power in recent stretch

BJ Laudermilk, Sports Editor

Bri Sims trots home after hitting one of the two Lion grand slams in Saturday’s win over UT Permian Basin. East Texan Photo | Evan Luecke

BJ Laudermilk | Sports Editor

After a 13-1 start to the season, with their only loss coming to the No. 1 team in the country, the A&M-Commerce Lions softball team has continued their strong start, winning nine in a row, and 11 of 13 over the past three weeks.

The Lions moved up to No. 21 in the country as they faced No. 18 Cameron, and in the series, the Lions picked up their first win against a ranked team while being ranked, as well as their first extra inning win as a ranked team with an 8-6, 10-inning victory in game one. Jameyson was a force at the plate again, hitting a three-run home run in a five-run fifth inning, and having the go-ahead two-run single in the tenth inning that led to the win. She was also walked three times in the game, the Lions working 11 total walks in the game.

The next day’s doubleheader saw the Lions run-rule the Aggies, taking game two of the series 11-3 in just six innings, while falling 2-1 in game three. Jameyson in the two games had five hits in five at-bats, two home runs, a double, four RBIs, three runs scored, a walk and a hit by pitch, reaching base every time she got up to the plate.

After suffering their first conference loss of the season, the Lions moved up to No. 11 in the country, their highest ever ranking, and putting them on the doorstep of the top 10. Jameyson not only repeated as LSC Hitter of the Week, but repeated as the NFCA/Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, winning back-to-back weeks for that award had never been accomplished in program history.

The Lions then faced Midwestern State on the road, and in the first game dropped a tough fought contest 5-4. The Lions trailed 2-0 most of the game before battling back to take a 3-2 lead in the sixth. The Mustangs pulled in front with three of their own in the bottom of the sixth, and despite a late comeback, the Lions could not bring the equalizer across and lost.

The Lions have flipped the script since then and really surged their power at the plate. The remaining two games of the Midwestern State series both went the Lions way, finishing each game in six innings and winning by a combined 19-2 score. Ciera Nunez had four hits in the two games, with two doubles, four RBIs, and four runs scored. She also had her first collegiate home run in the first game, a three-run, inside-the-park home run.

The Lions then began their spring break by welcoming Missouri Western State to the power show, outscoring them 22-3 in the two games, both of which concluded in just five innings. Jameyson had another two-run homerun in game one, while Bri Sims lead the Lions with six RBIs in the two games, including a two-run homerun in game two.

The Lions then moved on to Austin for a quick trip to St. Edward’s, as they finished a game started Feb. 7 that was suspended after four innings. The Lions won that game 2-0, as neither team had a hit in the last three innings. In their doubleheader, A&M-Commerce turned the power back on, outscoring the Hilltoppers 26-1 in the two games, both of which ended after five innings. Jameyson had six hits in seven at-bats, three home runs, including a grand slam, and 11 RBIs in the two games. The Lions as a team had five home runs in the doubleheader, the other two coming off the bats of Kinsie Hebler and Kayla Kilcrease, her first career home run.

The Lions wrapped up their spring break festivities by coming home to welcome UT Permian Basin, but the power show continued for the Lions, as they got pop from some unlikely parts of their lineup. They took game one 13-7, as both teams utilized some heavier winds to their advantage. The Lions got a pinch-hit, two-run home run from Monica Cherry in the bottom of the fifth to go up 12-6, before Sims hit a home run to go back-to-back and put the final run across for the Lions.

In game two, the Lions struck early and often, winning a 10-0 game in just five innings. Baylea Higgs hit her first career home run in the first inning, a two-run shot that put the Lions ahead 2-0. Sims would also hit a home run later that inning, her third of the year, and third of the week. The Lions would get a home run from Jodie Hill, her fourth of the season, in the second inning, to round out the power hitting in the game.

In game three, the Lions power surge was able to accomplish something never before done in program history. A&M-Commerce got two grand slams in game three, Sims hit one in the first inning, Kilcrease hit the other in the second inning, and the Lions ran away with a five-inning 11-1 win to sweep the series. Jameyson for her weekly contributions, including 13 hits and 18 RBIs, was awarded the LSC Hitter of the Week for the third time this season.

The No. 9 Lions will look to move higher up the top 10 later this week as they get ready to host A&M-Kingsville (16-15, 7-8 LSC) this weekend to conclude their home stand. The Lions are now 25-3 (10-2 LSC) on the season, and they play Friday night at 7 p.m., and a doubleheader Saturday that will start at 1 p.m.