Lions start strong in opening tournament

Tyler McDonough, Senior Sports Reporter

By: Tyler McDonough | Senior Sports Reporter

Softball season is among us as the No. 10 nationally ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions took it to the diamond this past weekend at the Arkansas Tech Tournament in Conroe, TX going 4-1 to begin their 2020 campaign. 

Game One

The Lions picked up right where they left off in 2019 in game one with a pair of three-run home runs from Madison Schaefer and Kinsie Hebler as they defeated the No. 7 ranked University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos 10-0 in five innings. Emily Otto also picked up her 16th career shutout, along with her 39th career complete game. Jodie Hill, Chelsea Slider, and Uxua Modrego also had big games all picking up two hits in the contest. 

Game Two

The Lion offense was not as hot in game two versus the Harding Bison, but nonetheless A&M-Commerce still picked up a 2-1 victory to improve to 2-0 on the season. Freshman Alyssa LeBlanc pitched a gem in her first ever collegiate appearance, allowing just one run with five strikeouts in six innings of work. LeBlanc also contributed to her cause as she had an RBI triple in the second inning. Schaefer then scored the eventual go-ahead run on a sac fly to score LeBlanc. 

Otto came in relief in the final inning to pick up the save, retiring the first two batters, but gave up a triple to put the tying run at third. Otto with no pressure at all, got the batter to fly out to center to end the game. 

Game Three

The Lions improved to 3-0 on the year as they defeated Pitt State 4-0 behind another shutout performance from Otto. The Lions got things going early as Schaefer singled in the first and scored on a single from Avery Boley. 

The Lions got another run across in the fourth as Vanessa Avina scored on a sac fly from Jodie Hill. Otto struck out a couple of batters in the bottom half of the fifth inning to keep the score at 2-0. 

Schaefer hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, and Hill scored on an error after singling to put the Lions up 4-0. Otto struck out two more in the sixth and two more in the seventh to close out the game. 

Game Four

Alyssa LeBlanc improved to 2-0 on the season as the Lions knocked off Minnesota-Duluth 2-1 in game four of the season. LeBlanc pitched a strong five and two-thirds innings along with nine strikeouts. 

The Lion offense struggled early and trailed for the first time this season, and UMD brought across their only run of the game in the third inning after a throwing error cost the Lions. 

The Lion offense got going in the fifth inning when Chelsea Slider doubled and Cally Pausewang reached base on a fielder’s choice error to put both runners in scoring position. Schaefer came up big once again as she drilled a pitch down the right field line to score both runners and give A&M-Commerce a 2-1 lead. 

LeBlanc’s night was done after giving up two hits in the sixth inning. Otto came in relief and retired the only batter she faced in the sixth. Otto preserved the Lion lead in the seventh to pick up her second save of the tournament and give the Lions the victory. 

Game Five

The Lions dropped their only game of the tournament to defending national champion and No. 1 ranked Augustana 1-0 in the final game of the tournament on Sunday afternoon. 

Otto gave up a couple of early singles in the first, but got out of the jam with a couple of strikeouts to give the Lions a chance to strike early. Jodie Hill and Serina Aguilar singled in the first, but the Lions could not bring any runs across. 

Augustana scored the only run of the game in the fourth inning with a solo home run. 

A&M-Commerce had its chances late in the game as the Lions had base runners in the sixth and seventh, but could not bring any across. 

Up Next

The Lions will be back this weekend at home for the first time this season as they co-host the 2020 Best Western Plus A&M-Commerce/UT-Tyler Invitational at the John Cain Family Softball Complex.