BY LINDA JACOBS
LIVINGSTON—The league leading Willis Lady Wildkats kept their District 18-5A record unblemished at 5-0 by defeating the Livingston Lady Lions 11-1 in six innings at Texas Slam Tuesday night.
The Lady Wildkats rushed out to an 8-0 lead in the first two frames, collecting five hits and two walks off Lady Lion pitcher Anna Bass.
Leading the offense for Willis was Kaylynn Johnson who smashed a two-run double in the first inning, then belted a two-run homerun over the right centerfield fence in the second inning to account for half of the Wildkats' early runs.
Bass and the Lady Lion defense settled in over the next three innings and held the Wildkats scoreless until they added three runs off four hits in the sixth inning to take an 11-0 advantage.
"We're struggling in the pitching department, but you know, they never quit," commented Lady Lion head coach Katrina Thornton, whose squad is currently 1-4 in district.
"When you're down by eight early in the game, they could have quit, a lot of teams would quit, but they don't. That's probably the biggest positive and I keep telling them that they don't give up.
"They realize that our pitchers are going to get hit and we've got to hit along with them, that's really where we're at," said Thornton. "We're playing much better defense than what we've played (earlier), so that's improved, but some nights we hit and some nights we don't. Tonight we didn't, but Willis is a very good team. They're undefeated in district."
Lady Wildkat pitcher Casey Dixon kept Livingston hitters in check for most of the night. She gave up a leadoff single in the second inning to catcher Paige Massey, but then recorded three straight K's to strand pinch runner Aeryn Myers at second base.
Dixon would retire the side in order during the first, fourth and fifth innings and finished the game with 12 strikeouts.
Bass and the Lion defense held the Wildkats scoreless in the third, fourth and fifth innings, allowing no hits and committing just one error.
"We kind of changed our pitching a little bit and were hitting our spots, that's crucial," said Thornton. "If we hit our spots then they have to try to hit your pitch. That's what we've been working on.
"My girls have been so busy," added Thornton. "They're in everything that I think Livingston ISD has. I've got several out tonight with Ag and FFA stuff, so we've had various lineups, but no matter who I put where, they play it, and do the best they can."
Livingston would strand their second baserunner in the third inning when Jillian Barrett led off with a walk. She advanced to second on an infield grounder by Darian Drake. Dixon, however, would record two strikeouts to end the threat.
The Wildkats would score three runs on a two-out rally in the top of the sixth inning to take an 11-0 lead. After grounders to infielders Mackenzie Smith and Kenzi Bush for two quick outs, the Wildkats went back to work and hit four consecutive singles to score a pair of runs, then added a third run off a Livingston error.
Livingston scored their only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth and left a runner at third as Dixon recorded the final Livingston out on a strikeout to end the game by the 10-run rule.
Hailey McClendon started the sixth with a bunt single and advanced to third on two wild pitches. She later scored on a close play at home, courtesy of a sacrifice grounder by Mackenzie Smith. Bailey McClendon reached on a bunt as well and advanced to third before Dixon registered her 12th strikeout to end the game.
The Lady Lions will be back at Texas Slam Friday night to battle the Huntsville Lady Hornets. The JVs will play at 5 p.m. and varsity will get underway at 7 p.m.