No. 8 East Texas Baptist derails Lady Jackets softball, 8-2

East Texas Baptist’s Maranda Westbrook (6) beats out a throw to HPU’s Kodi Glosson at first base during the Lady Jackets’ 8-2 loss Saturday.

The growth process continued for the youthful Howard Payne Lady Jackets Saturday as they were handed an 8-2 loss by No. 8 East Texas Baptist in the finale of their three-game American Southwest Conference series.

The Lady Jackets (2-11, 1-8), who dropped the first two games of the series Friday, have struggled mightily at the plate during their current eight-game slump. Saturday’s two-run tally was the most runs scored by HPU in a single game during that stretch.

Undefeated ETBU (10-0, 9-0), which won the 2010 national championship, received a four-hit performance from Shelby Parker and Kelly Jo McLendon, both of whom surrendered one run on two hits. Parker also fanned nine and walked one over six innings, while McLendon tallied one strikeout with one walk.

Howard Payne hurler Taylor Rushing surrendered seven earned runs on 13 hits with two strikeouts and a pair of walks, as ETBU did most of its damage in the top of the first inning when it struck for five runs.

During the ETBU first, Jayme Perez walked with one out followed by back-to-back RBI doubles from Sara Clements and Lacey Lindsey. Lacy Liles followed with an RBI single but was thrown out on the base paths. Kayla Garcia then singled ahead of an RBI base hit by Mallory Westbrook, while Westbrook later scored on an RBI single by Kaitlyn Hollingshead.

ETBU tacked on another run in the second as Garcia singled home Lindsey, who singled to left field to start the two-out rally.

The Lady Jackets scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth, trimming the deficit to 6-1. Amanda Gober reached on a single to left field in front of a towering RBI double off the left field wall by Pricilla Patino, which just missed clearing the fence.

East Texas Baptist extended its advantage to 8-1 in the top of the sixth as Perez recorded an RBI double and Clements followed with an RBI single.

The Lady Jackets scored once more in the bottom of the sixth as Jessica Morales led off with a single, Patino followed with a one-out walk and Shandi Winstead reached on a fielder’s choice that retired Morales. Rushing then came through with a two-out RBI single that plated Tiffani San Miguel, who was courtesy-running for Patino.

HPU will attempt to return to the win column Friday and Saturday against another nationally-ranked powerhouse as they visit No. 6 UT-Tyler (11-1, 8-1) for three games.