The first two innings of Monday's softball season opener proved a little shaky, but by the end of the night the Brownwood Lady Lions had earned a dominant 10-4 home victory over the Class 3A Jim Ned Lady Indians.
Down 2-0 through 2 ½ innings, the Lady Lions scored four runs each in the third and fourth frames, then tacked on solo runs in the fifth and sixth to reach double figures in the initial outing of the season.
“We came out a little tentative at the plate for a couple of innings and then we started getting aggressive with our swings on good pitches,” said Lady Lions head coach Jessica Lynn. “That's what we've been trying to get them to do and they finally came alive. We got some extra-base hits and those are contagious, and we showed a good example of that thorough the middle of the game tonight.”
The Lady Lions finished with 13 hits — including five doubles — and drew four walks off Jim Ned pitchers Chassity Beasley and Kylie Gwinn. Cecilia Rodriguez led the way with three singles and an RBI, Annie-Klein Allgood doubled twice and drove in three, Auzzlyn Benedict added two doubles and an RBI, Ashlynn Patteson finished with a pair of hits — including a double — with two RBI, Mackenzie Welch singled twice and plated a run, Chesney Covey singled once, Aubrie Harris contributed a single and two walks, and Caitlyn Moody drew a pair of walks.
In the circle, Allgood went the distance and yielded two earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
“She did a good job of keeping them off balance and she did a good job keeping her composure and trusting her defense because they hit her hard a couple of times,” Lynn said of Allgood.
Defensively, the Lady Lions committed five errors, with four coming in the first two innings that led to Jim Ned's early advantage.
“We had some early mistakes but it's nothing we can't work on,” Lynn said. “We had a couple of mistakes in the outfield but we're a little inexperienced out there and it will get better as the season goes on. It's all about finding the right mixture of players, the right chemistry and I like the group we had out here tonight. We have a few more players we're going to try and work in to see what lineup we want to stick with through district.”
Knotted at 4 in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Lady Lions tallied four runs to seize complete control of the contest. Covey reached on a bunt single to start the frame and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Harris. Benedict then doubled off the left field wall to plate Covey with Brownwood's fifth run. Allgood was then plunked by a pitch ahead of Patteson's RBI single that brought home Benedict. Lexi Castillo then reached on an error that allowed Heaven Badillo — running for Allgood — to score. Rodriguez followed and reached on another Jim Ned miscue, then scored on a wild pitch.
Brownwood's fifth inning featured a two-out RBI bloop double by Allgood that plated Harris, who singled to right field with one out.
Then, in the sixth inning, Welch's two-out RBI single drove in Rodriguez, who singled to right field with one out.
Jim Ned took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second as Kambri Smoot led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored after stealing third base with no one there to cover. Gwinn then reached on a one-out, four-base error as a fly ball to right field was dropped and rolled to the wall.
Brownwood bounced back in the bottom of the third inning with its first four-spot. With one out, Harris walked and Benedict doubled to left field ahead of a two-RBI double to left field by Allgood, which evened the score at 2. Patteson then singled to right field to plate Badillo, running for Allgood, to stake the Lady Lions to a 3-2 lead. With two down, Welch singled home Castillo, who earlier reached on a fielder's choice.
Jim Ned answered with two runs in the top of the fourth to knot the score at 4. Gwinn led off with a single and Smoot followed with a one-out RBI double. Then, with two outs, Koti Goolsby's RBI single to right field plated Smoot.
The Lady Lions (1-0) are back in action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Stamford.