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18-5A leaders remain steady in district play

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WILLIS - The No. 5 state-ranked Willis Lady Wildkats were as good as advertised, allowing Livingston just one hit in a 6-0 victory Friday in Willis.

The Wildkats, 23-1 for the season, remain atop the District 18-5A leaderboard with an unblemished 12-0 record.

The Lady Lions (7-5 in district) will need to win at least one of their final two games to reach the postseason. They were scheduled to host Huntsville Tuesday (weather permitting) and then close out the regular season Friday at A&M Consolidated.

“These are the most important (games) of the season,” said Lady Lion head coach Christine Jaques. “We’ve spent most of the time on the road, which has been hit and miss for us. Playing Huntsville Tuesday is huge because we have to win out.

“For us to fight and win out, we have to come out and produce runs, and we have to have a game plan to go with, and to fight the whole game, not just here and there.

“Playing at home is huge for us, because we haven’t played home yet in this long journey in the second round, so it’s very important that we split with Huntsville.”
The loss to Willis Friday tied the two teams in the district standings.

In their previous two games, the Lady Lions had accumulated 13 runs, defeating Bryan Rudder 5-0 and dropping a 9-8 decision to College Station. Friday, they fell victim, as many have, to Wildkat pitcher Casey Dixon.

The ace threw all seven innings, allowed just one hit, and recorded 13 strikeouts.

“We came out and we just went flat,” said Jaques. “We didn’t execute when it was needed. We put runners in scoring position and didn’t do anything with them.”
Grason Long had the only hit of the game with a leadoff single in the second inning. She stole second, but was stranded when Dixon struck out the next three batters.

Dixon fanned six of Livingston’s first seven batters, and finished with at least one strikeout in all seven frames. She got stronger as the game went and did not allow a base runner past the third inning.

Livingston put two base runners on in the third frame, but failed to get beyond second base. Hailey McClendon was hit by a pitch, but was forced out at second on a ball hit to third by Darian Drake. Drake quickly stole second, but was stranded when Dixon ended the frame with another strikeout.

“We didn’t adjust to her; we let her play her game instead of us playing ours,” said Jaques. “We let her dictate what was going to happen in the circle and she dictated the game.

“I think once our defense kind of settled down, we definitely held them. I thought Anna (Bass) pitched a good game, but we have a lot of work ahead of us to get into the playoffs. I think we went flat and that can’t happen along the way. We have to be able to hit at all points and time.”
Jaques was quick, however, to credit the Wildkat pitcher. “She’s a good pitcher, she’s very disciplined, and she doesn’t give up many walks.

“I don’t think she walked anybody. She fights back and we didn’t adjust when we needed to. We chased everything. We fed into her game and once she got a rhythm going of how to get to us – she found it and went after it. We never adjusted, so therefore, she dictated the whole game.”

Dixon was backed by a solid offense. The Wildkats’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters did most of the damage. Cleanup batter Samara Lagway hit a solo home run in the third and singled in the fifth. Kalynn Johnson followed with a 2-for-3 performance, including a two-run blast in the fifth inning. Rachel Brown, batting sixth, opened with a two-run double in the first and singled in the fifth for the home team.

DSC 3462-640pHailey McClendon throws to first base to get the final out in the first inning at Willis Friday.

DSC 3465-640pGrason Long had the only hit for Livingston in Friday’s 6-0 loss versus the league-leading Willis Lady Wildkats.