Brownwood opens season at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Waco University

Coming off a district tri-championship and third straight three-round-deep postseason run, and with a veteran lineup intact, the Brownwood Lady Lions again have high hopes coming into the 2019 softball season.

The Lady Lions would like nothing more than to return to the Class 4A state tournament in Austin, an occurrence last enjoyed in 2016 — the freshman season for this year’s senior class.

“With so many upperclassmen on the team, we do have high expectations coming into this year,” said Lady Lions head coach Jessica Lynn, who guided Brownwood to a 22-7-1 record a year ago. “But we want to make sure that we take it one game at a time, you don’t want to get ahead of yourself. There’s a lot of potential out here, but you have to come every day and work hard for that to show up in games. How far they can go will come down to how hard they want to work.”

Among the returnees for the Lady Lions are pitcher Chyanne Ellett (18-6 regular season record with a 1.65 ERA, 251 strikeouts and 40 walks, while batting .300 with four homers and 16 RBIs) — a University of Memphis signee — and third baseman Ayanna Clemons (batted .414 in regular season with a pair of home runs and 17 RBIs) — a Seward Community College signee — both members of the 2016 state tournament team. Also back are catcher Ashlynn Patteson (batted .407 in regular season with 22 RBIs and nine doubles), second baseman Aubrie Harris (batted .354 in regular season with 15 RBIs), outfielder Landry Holden (batted .271 in regular season with 16 RBIs), and shortstop Annie Gillispie (batted .483 during regular season with a home run, 22 RBIs, eight doubles and three triples) — the 2018 district offensive player of the year.

Aubrey Holden, who saw occasional playing time last year, and Annie-Klein Allgood are battling at first base, while Lady Lions jockeying for position in the outfield include Maddie Yazell, Chesney Covey, Karleigh Blackwell, Lexie Castillo and Auzlynn Benedict.

Lynn has been pleased with what she’s seen from the Lady Lions through scrimmage action and preseason practices.

“At this point so far, I feel like we’ve looked pretty good,” Lynn said. “Chyanne has looked really strong and the rest of the pitchers have done a really good job as well. They haven’t got tons of innings, but they’ve all looked really strong. Our hitting has come along really well so far in the scrimmages. The defense is coming along, we’re getting good reps, but it can always be better.”

The Lady Lions open their season at Class 5A Waco University at 5 p.m. Tuesday, as Brownwood has beefed up the pre-district slate with several larger schools.

“I have us playing five 5A schools and a 6A school in pre-district to get us really prepared our district schedule and for the playoffs,” Lynn said. “We should be tested in probably all aspects of the game and you can’t be overly prepared heading into district. I’m pretty excited about that.”

Following the University game, the Lady Lions visit Windthorst (Feb. 15), host Eastland (Feb. 19), take part in the Abilene tournament (Feb. 21-23), compete in the Granbury tournament (Feb. 28-March 2), venture to Robinson (March 5), battle in the Graham tournament (March 8-9) and host Midland High (March 14) in the pre-district finale.

“We open with University High in Waco, they’re a 5A school but I don’t know a lot about them. I assume it will be good competition,” Lynn said. “Then we play Windthorst, we played them last year and they were a pretty scrappy team. We have the Abilene tournament, Granbury tournament, Graham tournament, and the Granbury tournament should be really good. We’re playing four 5A schools in that tournament and they’re all good. That should be a really good test in the middle of our season and push us a lot. We also play Robinson, who went three rounds deep in the playoffs in 4A, that should be another good test, and we play 6A Midland High in our last game before district.”

Brownwood will reside in District 7-4A in softball along with Stephenville, Glen Rose, Mineral Wells and Godley. The eight-game league slate begins March 19 at home against Glen Rose and concludes April 18 at home against Mineral Wells.

“I don’t much about Glen Rose but Godley’s always good so that should be good competition,” Lynn said. “Then we have the rivalry with Stephenville, and Mineral Wells won their district last year. Like usual, our district is pretty strong. I feel like there will be some close, low-scoring games. That’s why I wanted to get us some tough pre-district games, so we’re ready for that.”