Needing three games to reach the second round of the playoffs, the defending Region I-4A champion Brownwood Lady Lions are hopeful their upcoming area round series with the Stephenville Honeybees resembles their last game of the previous weekend and not the first.
Brownwood (26-5) and Stephenville (25-4), district rivals the previous two seasons, will square off in Games 1 and 2 of a Region I-4A area playoff series at 6 p.m. Friday at Brock. Game 3, if needed, will be back in Brock at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Stephenville swept Springtown in the bi-district round of the playoffs, tallying 33 runs over two games while allowing 18. Offensively, the Honeybees are led by Nadine Arredondo, Morgan Diciccio, Madison Gilder, Jessica Howell, Bianka Garcia and Kenadee Richards. In the circle, Garcia and Skye Gaitan have shared the workload.
“I think they’re going to be similar in a lot of ways to last year’s team because they didn’t lose a lot of seniors,” Lady Lions head coach Jessica Lynn said of the Honeybees. “We’re going to have to put the ball in play, score some runs and make some plays. I don’t expect a lot of high-scoring games, kind of like last week. Facing Burkburnett got us prepared for this because they were a really good team. We’ll be facing another good team and another good pitcher this week.”
The Lady Lions played one of their most complete games of the season in 9-2 victory over Burkburnett in the rubber game of the Region I-4A bi-district series last weekend. Brownwood was no-hit in a 4-1 Game 1 loss, then mustered only one run in the second game, but received a no-hitter from Chyanne Ellett to notch a 1-0 victory.
“Our momentum is pretty good right now because that was one of our better games in a while,” Lynn said of the Game 3 triumph. “The bats came back alive after being gone two or three games. Chyanne pitched a really good game and the defense played solid behind her. We’re going to try and build on that and keep it going.”
After managing just one run over a 25-inning stretch, the Lady Lions compiled 11 hits — including a two-run and a three-run home run — in the series finale against Burkburnett.
“We faced a lot of good pitching and we were struggling to put the ball in play,” Lynn said of the Lady Lions’ offensive slump. “We came out to the field before the games Friday and Saturday and took some extra cuts and that seemed to help out a lot. We just kept working and eventually got some hits.”
The Lady Lions offense is led by Ayanna Clemons (.402, 20 RBIs), Ellett (.400, 2 HRs, 20 RBIs), Emily Perez (.373, HR, 24 RBIs), Ashlynn Patteson (.371, 2 HRs, 19 RBIs), Kayla McFarden (.366, HR, 19 RBIs), Alexis Larrea (.337, 17 RBIs), Victoria Sanchez (.333, HR, 20 RBIs), Danyelle Gongora (.280, 16 RBIs) and Annie Gillispie (.276, HR, 11 RBIs). Brownwood is batting .345 as a team with a .403 on-base percentage, and averaging 6.7 runs per outing.
During the three games against Burkburnett, Ellett posted a 2-1 record with 37 strikeouts, 16 walks and nine hits allowed. For the season, Ellett owns a 16-4 mark with four saves, a 1.32 ERA, 230 strikeouts and 70 walks in 126.2 innings pitched.
“Chyanne has a lot of confidence right now and the defense is playing well behind her,” Lynn said. “She had a few more walks than we wanted her to have the first game, but the ball was moving well. She cut down on the walks Friday and then only had two Saturday, and her ball kept moving well. She’s doing a good job and making it easy for the defense behind her and it’s all coming together.”
The series winner will face either Mineral Wells or Vernon in the Region I-4A quarterfinals next weekend.