The Brownwood Lady Lions begin their bid for a 12th consecutive postseason appearance, and their first district softball championship since 2012, as they visit the Stephenville Honeybees at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Lady Lions (10-4-1), who finished in a third-place tie with Abilene Wylie and Stephenville last season and ended up as the fourth seed after a three-team playoff, carry a six-game unbeaten streak into 6-4A competition.
Brownwood has not lost since Feb. 25, having defeated Clyde and Merkel by identical 4-0 scores in their two most recent outings — their only home games of the season to date. The Lady Lions also own victories of 18-0 over Cisco and 4-0 over Abilene Cooper during their recent run, with the other outcome being a 2-2 tie against Sweetwater during the Abilene tournament.
“I feel confident and I’m ready to get started,” Lady Lions head coach Jessica Lynn said in regard to the district race following Tuesday’s victory over Clyde. “We’ve been playing really well and we’ve won four or five in a row. We’re playing solid defense with only the occasional mistake here and there and we’re swinging the bats and hitting the ball hard. I have complete confidence.”
In the circle, the Lady Lions boast a 2.70 team ERA as Chyanne Ellett, Emily Perez and Alexis Larrea have shared the workload.
Ellett, a freshman, has seen the bulk of the action as she owns a 6-2 record with a 1.53 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 14 walks in 45.2 innings. Perez, a sophomore, is 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA, 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 26 innings. And Larrea, a junior, has posted a 2-0 record with a 5.56 ERA, 20 strikeouts and six walks in 11.1 innings.
Offensively, the Lady Lions are batting .386 as a team and averaging 5.5 runs per game.
Leading contributors on offense include Ashley Gomez (.590, one HR, six RBIs, five doubles, 12 runs), Kristen Fuentes (.536, two HRs, two doubles, 12 RBIs), Danyelle Gongora (.500, one RBI), Ellett (.475, two HRs, 12 RBIs, 13 runs), Larrea (.395, one HR, 12 RBIs, three doubles), Kayla McFarden (.364, three RBIs, one double, one triple), Ayanna Clemons (.342, seven RBIs, five doubles), Perez (.342, one HR, nine RBIs, three doubles), Victoria Sanchez (.298, five RBIs, 10 runs), Raeann Gongora (.294, three RBIs, five runs), JaKobee Holloway (.273, two RBIs, two doubles) and Tori Burkett (.229, three RBIs, six runs).
Stephenville (16-6) enters district having won seven of eight games in the month of March. The Honeybees’ most recent outing was a 12-1 victory over Eastland Tuesday in which Julia Flores limited the Lady Mavs to two hits with nine strikeouts and no walks.
Offensively, Nadine Arrendondo homered and drove in four RBIs, Sami Shaffer tallied a hit and added three RBIs, Flores finished with three hits and plated a run and Kali Smith singled twice and scored three runs.
As for the rest of the district, reigning 6-4A champion Mineral Wells is 10-5 for the season, Graham is 7-8-1 and Abilene Wylie owns a 5-5-1 record.
Following Friday’s game, the Lady Lions host Mineral Wells (March 22), visit Abilene Wylie (March 24) and welcome Graham (April 1) to wrap up the first half of district. The second half of league play begins April 8 at home against Stephenville followed by a trip to Mineral Wells (April 12), a home game with Wylie (April 15) and a drive to Graham (April 19).
Prior to the season, Lynn expected the 6-4A race to be a toss up, and heading into league play it looks as though that might prove to be the case.
“Not a lot of teams lost much, and we were all fairly even so it should be pretty competitive with a lot of close games,” Lynn said in a preseason interview.