Decisive Game 3 of series at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Brock
BROCK — For the second weekend in a row, the defending Region I-4A champion Brownwood Lady Lions are targeting a Game 3 victory to keep alive their goal of a return trip to Austin.
After dropping Game 1 of a Region I-4A softball area playoff series to the rival Stephenville Honeybees by a 2-1 count in Friday's first contest, the Lady Lions answered in the second game of a doubleheader with a 2-1 victory of their own.
The rubber match of the series will take place at 12:30 p.m. Saturday as both teams make the return trip to Brock.
“I'm pretty sure that game will be like these two, very competitive with both teams leaving it all between the lines,” said Brownwood head coach Jessica Lynn. “It should be a lot of fun and I hope a lot of people can come out and watch.”
In Friday's second game, the Lady Lions snapped a 1-all tie in the bottom of the fifth.
Danyelle Gongora began the frame by reaching on a dropped fly ball by Stephenville center fielder Morgan DiCiccio. Annie Gillispie prolonged the inning with a two-out single to left field off Honeybee pitcher Julia Flores, who tossed a seven-hitter with six strikeouts. Chyanne Ellett, who tallied four hits in the two games, followed with an RBI single to left field, as Gongora was able to slide home safely despite a close tag at the plate.
Ellett, who hurled a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts and five walks in Game 2, escaped a jam in the top of the sixth thanks to a stellar double play. Nadine Arredondo singled with one out and Jessica Howell followed with a walk. Following a passed ball, both runners were in scoring position. However, Bianka Garcia grounded to Ayanna Clemons at third base, who fired to first baseman JaKobee Holloway for the second out. Holloway then made a perfect throw to catcher Ashlynn Patteson, who slapped a tag on courtesy-runner Kristen Pettit at the plate to complete the double play and get Brownwood out of the inning unscathed.
“We tried that play against Wylie a couple of weeks ago and it didn't go our way,” Lynn said. “Both those throws have to be on point and exactly where they need to be, especially the one home. It has to be low and leading the catcher to the runner, so they made a great play.”
Brownwood took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third as Clemons reached on a one-out triple, which was followed with a one-out RBI double by Ellett.
“At the play, Chyanne is seeing the ball and making solid contact,” Lynn said. “She battled tonight in the circle, too, and the defense made some good plays behind her.”
Stephenville drew even at 1 in the top of the fourth as Madison Gildner led off with a single and scored from third base with two outs on an errant pickoff attempt from behind the plate.
In the opening game, Brownwood also scored first.
The top of the fourth inning saw Ellett reach on an infield single, then Victoria Sanchez sacrificed courtesy runner Ryleigh Dalleh to second base. Emily Perez later doubled home Dalleh and then moved to third base on a passed ball. But Perez was tagged out at the plate trying to scoring on an Alexis Larrea ground ball, foiling an opportunity for a bigger inning.
Ellett, who struck out 12 and walked two in Game 1, carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth, where Stephenville tallied all four of its hits — three on bunts — to grab a 2-1 advantage.
Samantha Luna reached on a bunt single to start the inning, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on DiCiccio's RBI single to right field. On a disputed play, Gildner laid down a bunt that rolled back and made contact with the bat in fair territory, and DiCiccio crossed the plate on the play to push the Honeybees in front, 2-1.
Brownwood (27-6) had a chance to rally in the top of the seventh as Kayla McFarden and Holloway reached on consecutive singles to start the inning, but Flores retired the next three batters to give Stephenville (26-5) the victory.