GRAFORD — The Brownwood Lady Lions’ bid to repeat as Region I-4A softball champions and return to the UIL Class 4A State Softball Tournament has been denied.
After suffering a 1-0 loss to Vernon Thursday night, the Lady Lions were on the short end of a 6-4, nine-inning affair Friday night, ending their season in the Region I-4A quarterfinal round.
The District 5-4A co-champion Lady Lions (28-8) had bounced back from 1-0 deficits in the bi-district round against Burkburnett and area round against Stephenville, but were unable to climb out of the hole against Vernon (20-6).
Knotted at 4 at the end of regulation, Vernon — which collected 15 hits off Brownwood all-state pitcher Chyanne Ellett — put the Lady Lions away with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning.
With one out in the ninth, Shykerra Fanner, Jade Guzman and Lauren Hager recorded consecutive singles to load the bases. Caroline Taylor was then hit by a pitch to drive in the go-ahead run and Audrey’s Graf’s RBI single plated an insurance run.
In the bottom of the ninth, Guzman retired the Lady Lions in order.
Vernon grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second — the same inning it scored the lone run Thursday — as Makyleigh Leija’s one-out RBI single scored Taylor, who reached on a leadoff error.
The Lady Lions answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning to grab their first lead of the series.
With one out, Danyelle Gongora tripled to left field, then Kayla McFarden followed with a two-out RBI double that evened the score at 1. Annie Gillispie then doubled home McFarden, staking Brownwood to a 2-1 edge.
The Lady Lions stretched their advantage to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth as Ashlynn Patteson prolonged the inning with a two-out single to left field, then scored from first base on an RBI double to right field by Alexis Larrea.
Vernon fired back with three runs in the top of the fifth to regain a 4-3 advantage. Hager singled home Avery Kinney, who singled with one out. Taylor followed with an RBI base hit that brought home Fanner, who reached on a fielder’s choice, while Graf singled into center field to drive in Hager with the go-ahead run.
Brownwood immediately answered in the bottom of the fifth with a one-out solo home run to center field by McFarden, but the Lady Lions failed to score again.
The Lady Lions finished with seven hits — two by McFarden and one each by Gillispie, Patteson, Larrea, Gongora and Emily Perez.
Guzman notched the win for Vernon, striking out 11 with no walks allowed.
Ellett yielded six runs — five earned — on 15 hits with 13 strikeouts and one walk.
The top four batters in Vernon’s order — Kinner, Fanner, Guzman and Hager, combined for nine hits. Graf also contributed two hits and a pair of RBIs, and Taylor drove in two as well.