Bangs remains undefeated in district, hands Early first 6-2A softball loss, 4-2

DERRICK STUCKLY BROWNWOOD BULLETIN derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com
Bangs’ Raelee Francois (11) slides in safely at third base ahead of the tag from Early third baseman Samantha Hernandez (8) during the Lady Dragons’ 4-2 District 6-2A victory Monday afternoon.

BANGS — Avoiding trouble inning after inning, the Bangs Lady Dragons’ most improbable escape occurred at the conclusion of Monday’s 4-2 victory over the District 6-2A rival Early Lady Horns.

In a battle of district unbeatens, Early’s Samantha Hernandez doubled down the first base line off Bangs pitcher Erin Anderson to begin the top of the seventh, then moved to third base on a ground out by Kassidy Allen.

With one out, Janae Williams grounded back to Anderson who, instead of firing to first base for the second out, made the throw to third base where Hernandez had drifted down the line. Bangs third baseman Courtney Owen slapped the tag on Hernandez before she returned to the bag for the second out.

On the same play, Williams had rounded first base and broke for a vacated second base. Owen turned and fired to the bag, where center fielder Kady Kyle had crept up far enough to make the grab and apply the tag to Williams for the third out.

Early (9-7, 2-1) head coach Alfonso Chavez vehemently argued both calls, but of which stood.

“I was standing here at third and I thought both of them were safe,” Chavez said following the game. “That would have made a big difference with the next batter (Aspen Escamilla) coming up who had already gotten a double.”

Bangs (9-2-1, 3-0) head coach Scott Freeman said of the game-ending play, “That was just a heads up play by our girls. They did a good job executing and I’m was proud of them right there.”

The Lady Horns had ample opportunities to draw even or potentially surge ahead of the Lady Dragons after Bangs built a 4-1 lead in the bottom of fourth inning.

In Early’s half of the fifth, Beale Gordon drew a leadoff walk, Hernandez beat out a bunt single and Allen slapped a base hit to right field. With the bases loaded and no outs, Williams lined to shortstop for the first out. Escamilla then grounded out to second baseman Kassidy Adams, who stepped on the bag for the second out, but not before Hernandez tallied the Lady Horns’ second run. Gabby Constancia, running in place of Allen, attempted to score all the way from second base on the play, but Adams fired to catcher Maddie Browning who applied the tag to end the threat.

Leading 4-2, Bangs found more trouble in the top of the sixth inning as Parker Smith and Andee Jo Rose roped consecutive one-out singles up the middle. But Anderson retired Lily Reagan on a ground out and fanned Gordon to end the inning.

“Our girls played well,” Chavez said. “The only thing is we left eight in scoring position and that really, really hurt us. We score any of those and I think it would be a different result.

Added Freeman, “Erin did a fantastic job making pitches and the defense did a great job helping her. She made some mistakes throwing a little bit, but we bailed her out. She’s not going to be perfect, so that’s what we needed to do.”

Early cut Bangs’ lead to 2-1 in the top of the fourth as Escamilla led off with a double and come home on an RBI ground out by Rose.

Bangs countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth to open a 4-1 edge. Adams led off by doubling down the left field line against Allen, then Raelee Francois reached on a bunt and a throwing error. With runners on the corners and one out, Francois stole second and an errant throw allowed Adams to trot home with the third Lady Dragons run. Sarah Garcia then laced an RBI double into right field that brought home Francois.

The Lady Dragons grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Jaylee Roberts singled with two outs and stole second base. Owen then delivered an RBI single up the middle.

The lead grew to 2-0 in the bottom of the third following a double to left field by Owen, who later scored on an RBI single by Cheyenne Edwards.

Anderson surrendered one earned run on seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk to earn the victory for Bangs. Offensively, Owen led the way with a pair of hits followed by one each from Roberts, Edwards, Garcia and Adams.

For Early, Allen tossed all six innings and gave up two earned runs on six hits with one strikeout and four walks. Top hitters for the Lady Horns included Allen with three, Hernandez with two and Smith and Rose with one apiece.

The Lady Dragons will visit Ballinger, while the Lady Horns venture to Jim Ned, both at 1 p.m. today, as District 6-2A softball action continues.