In a game that required two extra innings and featured 39 strikeouts, the Brownwood Lady Lions softball team withstood the Eastland Lady Mavs in an epic pitchers duel, 1-0, to improve to 2-0 in Monday night's home opener.
“The weather conditions made it very conducive for a pitchers duel because it's hard to bat and get loose in a cold weather game,” said Lady Lions head coach Jessica Lynn. “The pitchers did a good job of keeping the ball around the strikeout zone and off the bats. I thought both pitchers did a fantastic job and I'm just glad we came out on top.”
Brownwood senior pitcher Chyanne Ellett — who has signed to play for NCAA Division I Memphis — established a new school record with 23 strikeouts, including a string of 12 consecutive en route to her second victory of the season.
“She did a great job, she was zoned in,” Lynn said of Ellett, who has recorded 41 strikeouts and one walk through two games. “She had one hiccup of an inning where we had an error and maybe that got to her just a little bit, but she zoned back in and shut them down. She did a fantastic job of owning the mound and her home field.”
Eastland (4-2) pitcher Brynna Foster kept the Lady Lions off balance as well, chalking up 16 strikeouts with seven hits allowed — including four from Brownwood shortstop and leadoff batter Annie Gillispie.
The game was eventually decided in the bottom of the ninth inning on the only flaws in the field by the Eastland defense. After Lady Lion catcher Ashlynn Patteson began the frame with a rocket single to left field — her second hit of the contest — Ellett followed with a grounder to third base. The ball was first bobbled, then thrown off line as Ellett reached safely at first. At the same time, Patteson was rounding second base and heading for third, where another off target throw resulted in Brownwood scoring the only run.
Eastland — which already owns a 7-3 victory over Brownwood's District 7-4A rival Stephenville this season — was unable to turn a bases-loaded scenario into runs in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs, Lauren Bonilla singled to right field, breaking up Ellett's no-hitter. Foster then reached on a fielding error at second base and Camryn Willis drew a walk — the first and only issued by Ellett thus far this season. The Lady Lion veteran pitcher bounced back, however, and retired Emily Zamora on her ninth strikeout of the game.
The Lady Mavs made another charge at the lead in the fifth as Ella McLean reached on an error at first base to start the inning. With two outs, Lexi Leake slapped a single over third base into left field. With two on and two out, again Ellett regrouped to record her 12th strikeout — which began a string of a dozen strikeouts in a row that ended on the Lady Mavs' final out of the contest.
As for the Brownwood scoring threats, Gillispie led off with a single in the first and singled again with two outs in the third, but was stranded both times. In the fourth, Patteson and Ellett started the frame with consecutive singles, but Foster struck out the next three Lady Lion batters. Gillispie singled again with two outs in the sixth, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Gillispie got her double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth on a line drive to left-center field, but again was left stranded.
The Lady Lions will be back in action Thursday through Saturday at the Abilene Icebreaker tournament.
“We need to not strike out looking so much, but that comes with playing more,” Lynn said in regard to her offensive takeaways from the contest. “It's only our second game of the season so that will improve just like anything else the more you play. We also need to foul off some junk pitches more. We did have a lot of swings and misses. Hopefully we see some great improvement the next couple of weeks as we play in tournaments.”