Four HRs in final trip to the plate propel No. 6 Lady Lions to third round
BOYD — Runs were precious few for the No. 6 Brownwood Lady Lions, who mustered just six over the first 22 innings of their Region I-4A area playoff series against Vernon. Then came the top of the eighth in Game 3.
With two outs in what turned out to be their last at-bat of the series, the Lady Lions erupted for seven runs behind four home runs — two-run blasts by Ashlynn Patteson, Chyanne Ellett and Yisel Mendoza, along with a solo shot from Ayanna Clemons — en route to a 9-2 triumph over Vernon.
“The girls played awesome. There's not a lot of words to describe how proud I am and how hard they fought, especially after the first game,” Lady Lions head coach Jessica Lynn said in her postgame radio interview.
The Game 3 win, which followed a 7-0 loss in Game 2, sends Brownwood (25-3-2) to the regional quarterfinal round where it will face No. 10 Decatur — which swept its area series from Graham — next weekend.
Knotted at 2 in the top of the eighth, Aubrie Harris reached on a one-out double to center field and moved to third base when Annie Gillispie followed with a ground out to third base. Patteson, who homered Thursday night to produce Brownwood's first run of the series in its 4-1 Game 1 victory, launched a two-run homer to center field off Vernon (17-8-1) hurler Shay Williams to push the Lady Lions back in front, 4-2.
Auzzlyn Benedict then reached on an error and Ellett — who homered twice in the Springtown bi-district series — crushed the second two-run shot of the inning. Clemons immediately followed with another round-tripper that was deposited over the center field fence.
Annie-Klein Allgood prolonged the inning with a single over the shortstop, while Mendoza followed with another long ball to center field.
“We told them to be aggressive, stay off the top the ball and drive through,” Lynn said of the eighth-inning onslaught. “We'd been getting under it a lot and popping it up, and we felt like we were watching some good pitches and then swinging at the next pitch that wasn't even a strike. We told them to jump on that first pitch and drive through it.”
With a seven-run cushion, Ellett retired Vernon in order in the bottom of the eighth, aided by a double play line out back to the circle by Jaila McBride after Avery Kenney led off the frame with a double.
Brownwood grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Annie Gillispie led off with a solo home run. Gillispie, Ellett, Clemons and Mendoza — the four Lady Lion seniors — all homered in a game that kept Brownwood's season alive.
“I'm very proud that they all got to have that moment, especially in an elimination game,” Lynn said. “I'm proud of how they took care of business to make sure we go another round.”
Vernon drew even at 1 in the bottom of the first as, with two outs, Lauren Hager walked and scored on an RBI double by Caroline Taylor.
The Lady Lions regained a 2-1 lead in the fifth as Allgood and Mendoza began the inning with consecutive singles, and Harris' RBI sacrifice fly plated Allgood with the go-ahead run.
Again Vernon clawed back, tying the game in the bottom of the sixth as Kenney led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by McBride, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.
Offensively, Brownwood compiled 11 hits — two each by Ellett, Allgood and Mendoza along with one apiece from Allgood, Harris, Clemons, Harris and Maddie Yazell.
In the circle, Ellett gave up two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and four walks, a vast difference after Vernon generated seven runs on 10 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in Friday's first game.
For the season, Ellett is 21-3 with 398 strikeouts and 53 walks, while her career strikeout total stands at 1,233.
In Friday's first game, Hager and Caitlin Brints homered for Vernon during a six-run top of the fourth inning.
Brownwood was limited to two hits by Williams — singles by Benedict and Gillispie.
“She'd been keeping us off balance pretty much every game,” Lynn said of Williams. “We finally broke through with one inning yesterday and another inning today, but she's a very good pitcher. She worked hard and made us work hard. I'm proud of the way we adjusted in the third game at the plate and were able to make contact with the ball.”