LIVINGSTON - The Livingston Lady Lions improved their District 18-5A record to 4-3 following a 7-0 win over A&M Consolidated, wrapping up the first round of league play on their home field Tuesday night.
The victory has the Lady Lions of head coach Christina Jaques in position to battle for a postseason playoff spot, despite having just two home games left on their schedule.
“I think that the road can be big for us. I think that the closer we get, the girls are definitely buying into what’s ahead,” said Jaques. “They’re looking at the big picture.
I’ve told them to take it one game at a time and to keep pushing.”
With a mix of veterans, the first year head coach of the Lions, will also depend upon freshman in some key positions, including the mound where Grason Long pitched a two-hit shutout. Long also came up big at the plate, collecting three hits and three RBIs in the impressive win over the visiting Tigers.
Two more freshmen, catcher Bailey Bowers and right fielder Marley Mahoney, were in the starting lineup. The mix also included four seniors, a junior and a sophomore.
“I think that they learn from each other,” said Jaques.
“The veterans that are here and the freshmen that are coming up, I think they definitely depend on one another.
“They put the fight into each other and hold each other accountable and push themselves along the way. They come together and they fight. They work hard and never go down without a fight, regardless of what the score is.”
Livingston was scheduled to play Bryan on Friday to start round two of league play. The Lady Lions are looking to battle back after getting run-ruled by the Lady Vikings in their first outing.
“It’s the only game we got run-ruled, but I think we learned a lot from that game. We’re a totally different team and I think it will be a different game.
“I think the girls know what it’s going to take to get a playoff spot and I know the seniors are chomping at the bit to play well, and the freshmen are there to help them.”
Despite the impressive win by Long, the Lady Lions will depend upon their ace pitcher, senior Anna Bass, for much of the remaining season.
“Anna will be back on the mound,” said Jaques. “She has pitched most of our games and has all our wins except this one and the College Station game.
“I think Anna Bass has definitely been a good role model for what’s coming up. She’s been holding us together and fighting. She’s definitely turned it around this year.”
Coach Jaques believes the Lady Lions’ hard work ethic can move them up in the current standings. “Hey, I want to win it all, but I think that we can improve. I push the girls everyday at practice and I know they don’t want to give up in any game.
“Everyday they come out here and work, work and work. We don’t leave here sometimes until late. I know that what they’re putting into practice, they want it to show on the field.”
A&M Consolidated started the first frame on a promising note by drawing a pair of walks and getting a single from their No. 4 hitter.
A solid defensive effort backed Long in the circle all game and the Tigers would come up empty handed, stranding two base runners.
With a runner at second, the Lions recorded the first out with a pop bunt to first baseman Lindsey Moore. From behind the plate, Bowers fired to third to get an attempted steal – the first of two by the freshman catcher. Jillian Barrett recorded the third out with a fly in center field.
Long, who finished with six strikeouts, limited the Tigers to just one more hit in the game – a single in the third.
She retired the side in order during four of the final six innings, allowing a second base runner to board in the sixth when Livingston committed their only error of the game.
The Lady Lions put their first two runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning.
Bass led off with a walk, followed by a fielder’s choice from Mahoney. Both runners advanced to scoring position on a Tiger throwing error.
Long, batting sixth in the lineup, came through with a smash over the left fielder’s stretched glove for a stand-up double, scoring Bass and Mahoney for a 2-0 lead.
Pitcher McKenzie Mitchell got the Tigers out of further trouble with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
The home team added three more runs in the bottom of the third to take a 5-0 lead.
Leadoff hitter Darian Drake reached on an error and stole second base. Speedster Jillian Barrett beat out an infield blooper at second base to put runners on both corners.
Drake scored Livingston’s third run of the game when the Tiger catcher overthrew third on an attempted pickoff.
Bowers drew a walk to put runners on the corners for the second time. Sadie Parker entered as a pinch runner for Bowers. Bass hit into a fielder’s choice, as Barrett got caught in a rundown between third and home for the team’s first out.
With runners on second and third, Mahoney hit a sacrifice grounder to score Parker. Bass later scored on a single to left-centerfield by Long for a 5-0 margin.
Livingston had their most productive inning in the sixth, when they collected three hits off Mitchell, including RBI singles by Drake and Barrett to plate the final two runs of the game.