BROCK — The pieces appear to be falling into place at the perfect time for the Brownwood Lady Lions, who used a nine-run bottom of the fifth inning to secure their fourth consecutive victory and a Region I-4A area sweep over the Alvarado Lady Indians, 10-0, Friday night.
In three postseason outings, the Lady Lions (22-6-1) have generated 21 runs while allowing just four. Friday's run-rule victory was the first for Brownwood since March 6, and the Lady Lions committed just two errors in the series. Meanwhile, Chyanne Ellett has yielded four runs over the last four outings with a pair of shutouts and 39 strikeouts.
“It sure feels like it, and we've seen what that can do when you get on a good roll, ” Lady Lions head coach Jessica Lynn said of the recent win streak, while also referencing Brownwood's unlikely run to the 2016 state tournament after an 0-3 start in district. “We've got some things we have to work on, but this felt good because we haven't had a run-rule in a long time, since before district.”
A run-rule ending seemed extremely unlikely when the bottom of the fifth inning began, as the Lady Lions were clinging to a 1-0 advantage with just a pair of hits through four frames. To that point, the game's only run belonged to Brownwood first baseman Ryleigh Dalleh, who doubled off Alvarado (23-12) pitcher Kailtynn Woodlee with one out in the third, then scored after a pair of wild pitches.
Brownwood's half of the fifth began with a line out by left fielder Mya McDowell, then Dalleh followed with her second hit of the game, a soft liner over the first baseman's head. Shortstop Annie Gillispie then lashed a grounder into left field before second baseman Aubrie Harris drew a walk to load the sacks, still with just one out.
Catcher Ashlynn Patteson gave the Lady Lions some breathing room as she roped a two-RBI double off the wall in left-center field, plating Dalleh and Gillispie for a 3-0 Brownwood cushion.
“It's really a chain reaction, when one person starts hitting our whole team starts hitting,” Patteson said. “I knew we'd start hitting sooner or later. I was pretty confident in us. I am surprised we scored nine (in the inning), but I'm proud of us. We did good.”
Ellett was intentionally walked ahead of Ayanna Clemons, whose RBI floater just over second base allowed Harris to score the fourth run.
“I definitely think we made our adjustments,” Ellett said. “We struggled in the first few innings but we came out and made our adjustments and it was successful. It was awesome to come out and score nine runs like that. Our hitting, that's been something that we've struggled with at times this year, keeping it consistent. If it stays consistent like this I definitely feel like state is a definite possibility for us.”
With two outs in the fifth, Woodlee uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Patteson to score, and an errant throw to the plate permitted Lexie Castillo, running for Ellett, to also cross the plate. Landry Holden then delivered an RBI line drive single that the Alvarado third baseman couldn't flag down, as Clemons came home with the seventh run.
McDowell then walked and Dalleh reached on an infield single to again fill the sacks. Gillispie, the 12th batter of the inning, ended the game with a three-RBI double to the gap in left-center field that scored McDowell, Dalleh and Auzzlyn Benedict, running for Landry Holden.
“Yesterday I had a pretty off game and this game I had a hit earlier so I was ready and a lot more confident than I was yesterday,” Gillispie said. “It was a 2-2 pitch and I was just ready to score some runs. I didn't even realize it was the run-rule at that point. We all just decided we needed to pitch in this game to help Chyanne out. It really lit a fire. Coach Lynn made some good calls for us, she called some hit and runs.”
The Lady Lions finished with nine hits overall — three by Dalleh, two from Gillispie and one apiece by Patteson, Clemons, Landry Holden and Aubrey Holden.
“The hitting part, I really wasn't surprised,” Lynn said. “We had started hitting the ball hard, we were just hitting it right at people. I told the girls to keep swinging and it will eventually fall, that's just how this game works. The first good strike you see, attack it and hit it hard and that's what we did. We were patient and had some walks and then had some clutch hitting at the right time.”
In the circle, Ellett yielded five hits — three to Woodlee — and one walk, but left seven base runners stranded. Ellett tallied just four strikeouts, but the five hits allowed were all singles. Alvarado placed two runners on board in the second, third and fourth innings, but no base runner reached third base.
“I felt like I wasn't really on top of my game as much as I would have liked to have been, but I still feel like I did all right,” Ellett said.
With Ellett's strikeout total on the low side for her, the Lady Lion defense was required to make more plays. Among the highlights were a diving grab by Gillispie on a blooper in the infield, and a sliding catch in right field by Landry Holden.
“The defense played outstanding today,” Lynn said. “Chyanne pitched well. They had a lot of soft contact and only hit one ball really hard. Overall I thought it was a well-played game — offensively, defensively, pitching, base-running, really all of it.”
“It was a great all-around win,” Gillispie added. “We've been meshing really well since the playoffs have started. Our sticks are really coming alive, the defense has been stellar, it's all working out.”
Next up for the Lady Lions is a rematch with Vernon. Brownwood dropped a 5-4 contest to Vernon on March 8 — a game in which the Lady Lions squandered a 4-1 advantage. Last season, Vernon ended the Lady Lions' campaign in the third round, sweeping the series, 1-0 and 6-4. Details on the Region I-4A quarterfinal matchup have not yet been finalized.