Lady Lions fend off Burnet, 3-2, in District 8-3A softball opener for both squads

Lady Lion Danyelle Gongora slides in safely at third base ahead of the throw to Burnet’s Shelby Wilson as Brownwood athletic director Chuck Howard observes the action.

With the tying run at third base and the go-ahead run at second in the final inning of regulation, the Brownwood Lady Lions were able to persevere and emerge with a 3-2 victory over the Burnet Lady Bulldogs in Thursday afternoon’s District 8-3A softball opener for both squads.

Lady Lion (13-4, 1-0) hurler Alyson Finnigan scattered two hits, walked one batter and struck out 12 to notch the victory in the circle, while Ashley Gomez — playing despite an ankle injury — delivered what turned out to be the decisive blow with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Finnigan retired the first 12 batters she faced and had surrendered only a single to Burnet’s Rose Bailey heading into the top of the seventh inning.

Trailing 3-1 with two outs in the top of the seventh, Shelby Wilson reached on a two-out single to right field for Burnet (12-6, 0-1), then Ashleigh Glover drew the only walk Finnigan issued. Landree Thompson followed with an RBI single to right field that plated Wilson, and the throw to the plate put runners at second and third for Grayson Edwards.

Finnigan — who retired the side in order five times — then struck out Edwards looking to end the threat and secure the victory for the Lady Lions.

“Alyson came out on fire, she came out aggressive and ready to go,” said Lady Lions first-year head coach Jessica Lynn. “I had no doubt in my mind she would have a good game.”

Brownwood finished with 10 hits and stranded eight base runners, but Gomez came through with a crucial blast with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Despite a tender ankle and a stiff breeze blowing in from center field, the Lady Lion sophomore muscled her fifth round-tripper to left-center field to increase the Brownwood lead to 3-1.

“That was clutch,” Lynn said. “Ashley hurt her ankle yesterday in practice and I didn’t even know if she was going to be able to play or not, but she came out and battled through it. I told her to make it easy on herself and just hit a home run and she came through and did it.”

The Lady Lions jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first off Burnet hurler Katie Kirkland as Danyelle Gongora singled with one out and Finnigan followed with a double. With two outs and runners at second and third, Ashley Jones dropped a double on the chalk just past third base that scored both runners.

Victoria Sanchez then walked and Shelbi Winstead was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but the Lady Lions were unable to push across another run.

In the second inning, the Lady Lions filled the sacks again as Gongora reached on an error ahead of singles by Finnigan and Kristen Fuentes — all with two outs — but again Burnet escaped further damage.

“We came out very aggressive and made good contact, we just couldn’t get that big hit with runners on,” Lynn said. “Finally we got a run in the bottom of the sixth, but we have to learn to hit with runners on.”

Gomez, Gongora, Finnigan and Sanchez collected two hits apiece while Fuentes and Jones added one each.

Burnet trimmed the deficit to 2-1 in the top of the fifth as Bailey led off with a single up the middle and later scored when Thompson reached on a two-out error — the only fielding miscue of the day for Brownwood.

The Lady Lions resume District 8-3A action at 7 p.m. Tuesday when they host sixth-ranked Liberty Hill.