The Brownwood Lady Lions provided offensive fireworks in their first and final at-bats, while also displaying resiliency in a 9-4 victory over Class 5A Abilene Cooper Friday night.
The Lady Lions (6-1) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but didn’t score again until Cooper drew even in the top of the sixth. Brownwood responded by tallying five runs to keep its early season positive momentum intact.
Knotted at 4 in the bottom of the sixth, Kayla McFarden led off with a bloop single, her first hit of the night. Head coach Jessica Lynn then inserted Alexis Larrea as a pinch-hitter, and Larrea delivered with a towering double to dead center field to place runners on second and third with no outs.
Ashley Gomez, who led off the game with a solo home run, notched a clutch two-RBI single the opposite way into right field to push the Lady Lions back in front, 6-4. After Alyson Finnigan drew a walk, Kristen Fuentes ripped a two-RBI triple to right-center field to extend the lead to 8-4. Fuentes then came home when Victoria Sanchez reached on a two-out error as Cooper dropped a pop fly in shallow left field.
“We kept getting base runners on, we just couldn’t get the big hit,” said Lynn. “I told them if they kept battling that we were making solid contact and we were going to get one through. Finally in the last inning we came through.
“Kayla had a big hit to lead off and then Alexis came through with a huge hit off the bench, which is hard to do. Once you get a couple, everybody feeds off that and then we piled them on.”
The Lady Lions’ 4-0 first-inning lead was fueled by Gomez’s solo shot, then Danyelle Gongora doubled ahead of an RBI double by Finnigan. After Fuentes and Ashley Jones drew walks, Shelbi Winstead smashed a two-RBI double off the base of the left field wall.
“The first inning usually sets the tone for how well you do during the game,” Lynn said. “If you jump out to a big lead, you don’t have to press. But I commend Cooper for battling back. It’s nice to have a little bit of cushion, but you don’t want to see it get that close.”
Cooper trimmed the deficit to 4-1 in the second, 4-3 in the fourth and drew even in the top of the sixth thanks in part to Brownwood’s only error.
But Finnigan, who scattered seven hits, retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, notching her ninth and 10 strikeouts for the final two outs.
The Lady Lions will visit Abilene High at 2 p.m. today.