Brownwood improves to 11-2, hosts Anson at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday

Playing in their home stadium for the first time in the 2017 regular season, the defending Region I-4A champion Brownwood Lady Lions looked extremely similar to the squad that advanced to Austin a year ago.

A quick start offensively, coupled with insurance runs late, and a solid pitching outing from Emily Perez and Chyanne Ellett translated into a 12-1 victory for Brownwood over the visiting Graham Lady Blues.

For the season, the Lady Lions are off to an 11-2 start with the majority of their victories coming in dominant fashion.

“We started our scrimmages with a few bumps but once we started the regular season we caught fire,” said Lady Lions head coach Jessica Lynn. “We’ve been cutting down errors, getting hits with runners on and getting good pitching from all of our pitchers. It’s a been a full team effort.”

A season ago, the Lady Lions often found themselves facing deficits after the first inning. This season, however, Brownwood is going on the offensive from the get-go, and that continued Friday night with four runs in the bottom of the first inning.

“Last year, especially early on, we struggled in the first inning and turned it on after that,” Lynn said. “This year we’ve been ready from the first pitch and have done a good job scoring in the first inning. Last year we were getting behind in the first inning and having to fight back, but now we’re getting the lead and doing a good job of holding it.”

Lynn attributed the reversal in fortunes to another year of maturity for the majority of the varsity roster.

“They’re a little older and more experienced, but this is a weird game,” Lynn said. “Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t, but we’re putting it all together right now. I hope that continues the rest of the season.”

Brownwood’s 11-hit attack against Graham featured two apiece by Perez, Victoria Sanchez, Kayla McFarden and Ryleigh Dalleh, while Ayanna Clemons, Annie Gillispie and Alexis Larrea added one each. Dalleh’s three RBIs were a team-best while McFarden and Perez contributed two apiece and Clemons, Gillispie, Sanchez, Larrea and Ashlynn Patteson recorded one each.

The Lady Lions also drew three walks and took advantage of five Graham errors.

In the circle, Perez worked five innings to notch the win, allowing one run on three hits with four strikeouts. Chyanne Ellett, the District 6-4A MVP last season, pitched the final inning and retired the Lady Blues (1-5) in order with one strikeout.

“Emily’s been pitching great and I believe this is her fourth win of the season,” Lynn said. “She keeps the ball around the strike zone and keeps hitters off balance. She’s giving the defense easy plays to make and she’s been really clutch when we needed her to pitch.”

Brownwood’s four-run first inning saw Sanchez single home Clemons, who reached on a leadoff error, then Perez doubled down the first base line to plate Sanchez and Gillispie, who walked, for a 3-0 lead. Larrea’s RBI ground out later scored Kori Posey, running for Perez.

Graham scored its only run in the top of the second when Elizabeth Routon’s RBI ground out brought home Alex Husen, who reached on a leadoff error.

The Lady Lions stretched their lead to 5-1 in the second as a Gillispie RBI single knocked in Clemons, who reached on another Graham miscue.

Brownwood increased the advantage to 6-1 in the fourth as Clemons singled home Posey, running for JaKobee Holloway, who reached on an error.

In the fifth and sixth innings, Brownwood chalked up three runs in each frame.

Following back-to-back singles from Perez and Larrea to start the fifth, McFarden singled home the seventh run, while Dalleh followed with an RBI hit to make the score 8-1. Later in the frame, Patteson’s RBI sacrifice fly score McFarden.

In the sixth, McFarden doubled home Sanchez, who reached on an infield single, while Dalleh followed with a two-RBI single to right field that brought home McFarden and Larrea, who reached on an error.

The Lady Lions will next host Anson at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.