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.”
First inning 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.
Shortstop Darian Drake of Livingston puts the tag on an A&M Consolidated base runner during action in Livingston’s 7-0 win over the visiting Lady Tigers. Drake and the Lady Lions will travel to Caney Creek Tuesday.
Lady Lion head softball coach Christina Jaques and base runner Jillian Barrett wait for the next pitch during district competition Tuesday against A&M Consolidated. Jaques, in her first year at Livingston, currently has the team battling for a playoff spot after finishing the first round of district play with a 4-3 record.
Catcher Bailey Bowers hands the ball over to Grason Long in action Tuesday versus A&M Consolidated. Bowers and Long are two of six freshman on the Lady Lion softball squad this year.
Livingston Lions tennis and head coach Scotty McFarlain have a new playground to display their talents.
The Lion tennis team has been one of the more successful athletic groups on campus, despite not having a home court or the ability to host a meet.
“After doing this for 13 years, everything was travel — travel for practice, travel for a match,” McFarlain said.
“It is almost surreal. I step through that gate and it is like almost stepping into a different town. When I step out of the gate, I’m back in our town. It’s like a porthole. This is really nice — better than nice.”
In a meet that included Crosby, Shepherd, Liberty, Splendora, and Diboll, the team was able to showcase its new home, finishing second overall on Thursday.
Before the courts were completed, students were bused to Matthews Street Park, where a time slot was reserved and others waited for them to finish.
“Our JV class, which is fifth period, had to go dress out, bus over to Matthews Park, practice for about 15-18 minutes, dress again and go to lunch,” McFarlain said.
“After school, they would bus back again and get in another hour. The varsity eighth period class was worth it. We would dress out and go over and get two hours of practice. In the fall, our home matches were at Willis’ place, and that’s not a home match. That was all we could do.”
The coach is hoping for restrooms and a storage room sometime in the future. Currently restrooms and most equipment is a lengthy hike back into the school or a 15-minute drive over to Matthews Street Park.
The court visibility also keeps the sport in the thoughts of students, who can see the complex upon entering and exiting campus. Many have told the coach they will be coming out to participate, something he welcomes.
“A lot of kids think they will just walk out here and be good, but it doesn’t happen that way,” McFarlain said. “I try to tell people it takes two years worth of practice to be a JV-level player. It takes four years of real hard work to be considered a good player.”
There are eight courts on campus, where there were just four at the park. In past practices, two courts would be full of varsity players, while a logjam of 27 students crowded onto the other two.
Those learning the game are hitting a lot more tennis balls and getting in a lot more practice because they can spread out instead of waiting their turn.
“Now, JV comes out here in fifth period and gets 45 minutes of practice, and comes out after school to get another solid hour and a half. It is a huge, huge difference. Without the travel time, it has added 30 minutes to practice every day.”
Under the backdrop of the water tower and high school, Livingston ISD’s new tennis complex saw its first matches Thursday with chilly morning conditions. The eight-court complex hosted Crosby, Splendora, Liberty, Shepherd and Diboll, as Livingston placed second.
DALLARDSVLLE — Big Sandy survived a late surge by Apple Springs to defeat the Lady Eagles 10-9 in district softball action at the Ladycats’ home field Tuesday. Big Sandy had fallen behind 3-1 early in the contest, but outscored their opponent 7-1 over four frames to lead 8-4 heading into the seventh.
In the top half of the inning, the Lady Eagles connected just one clean hit, but were able to move base runners via three costly errors and two walks. The damage resulted in five runs and a 9-8 lead for the visitors.
“It was just a lack of focus,” commented Ladycat head coach Mark Young, whose team improved to 3-2 in league play with the come-from-behind win.
“I’m just proud of my girls, they didn’t quit. That’s something we’ve been working on, just trying to not ever give up. Anything can happen if you put the bat on the ball. I was proud of them.”
It took just four batters for the home team to secure the win in the bottom of the seventh. Jenny Harbuck led off the frame, hit by a pitch. She later advanced to third on two passed balls.
With one out in the inning, Kalin Cristan drew a walk to put runners on the corners. A ground out at second base allowed Harbuck to score and tie the game at 9-9, while a throwing error to third on the same play allowed Cristan to score the winning run.
Coach Young and the Ladycats are trying to secure one of four playoff spots. “We beat Centerville and Spurger, and lost to Colmesneil and Groveton,” said Young.
“Groveton is leading the district right now and Colmesneil is second. The Colmesneil game got away from us. We had a lot of walks, but the Groveton game we lost 6-2. I was very proud of my girls, they played just about as good as we could have played. They were just better than us, so we’re sitting tied for third right now with Apple Springs.”
If work ethic pays off, expect the Ladycats to be in the thick of the playoff race. “We have really been working out trying to get stronger,” said Young. “We flip 18-wheeler tires four days a week and they’re up to almost 30 each. It has really made a big difference.
“Our girls have really gotten stronger, just throwing and hitting, and just the mental side of it. They’re more confident when they’re stronger.”
The Ladycats not only overcame the seventh inning rally, but an earlier 3-1 deficit, as well.
Trailing in the bottom of the second, Big Sandy scored two runs to knot the score at three apiece. Caitlyn Cain led off the inning with a single to right and later scored on a ground out by Allison Farrar.
Jasmine Luna, who boarded the bag at first when hit by a pitch, would score after advancing a base on the Farrar grounder and two passed balls, the latter of which plated her for the 3-3 tie.
The defense did their job, recording six consecutive outs in the third and fourth innings. Farrar, in the circle for the Ladycats, scooped up two grounders and second baseman Harbuck fielded a grounder to retire the side in order during the third.
The Lady Eagles went down in the fourth on a strikeout by Farrar and fly balls to Cristan in left and Cain in center field.
Meanwhile, the offense doubled their lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the third when they took advantage of three walks and three Lady Eagle errors.
Marie Parkinson was the first Ladycat to score. She reached on a one-out walk and advanced to third on a steal and passed ball. An error at second plated the Ladycat third baseman for a 4-3 lead.
Cain and Luna, who reached on errors, both scored on wild pitches before the Eagles ended the frame with a strikeout and infield grounder.
Big Sandy added a run in the bottom of the fourth. Leadoff batter Cristan boarded when the catcher missed a third strike. She advanced to third on a wild pitch and passed ball. A sacrifice grounder by Brooke Findley plated Cristan for a 7-3 margin.
Apple Springs made it a 7-4 margin in the top half of the fifth, scoring one run off one hit, one walk and one Ladycat error.
Big Sandy took advantage of two Lady Eagle errors to double their lead 8-4 in the bottom of the fifth. Leadoff batter Cain used her speed to beat out a bobble at second base to reach first safely, then stole second base, and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
With just one out in the inning, Cain scored on an error at shortstop. Further damage was halted when the Eagles caught pop flies at second base and behind the plate.
The seventh inning started on a promising note when shortstop Samantha Horton scooped up a grounder and fired to Kelsey Moore at first base. However, one hit, two walks and three errors later, the visitors plated five runs to gain a 9-8 lead.
The Eagles scored their first run on a bases-loaded walk and plated four more on a pair of outfield errors.
The Ladycats were able to get out of the inning on a strikeout by Farrar and a fly ball to Cain in center field.
Shortstop Samantha Horton of Big Sandy puts the tag on an Apple Springs base runner during district action Tuesday. The Ladycats posted a 10-9 win over the Lady Eagles.
Allison Farrar worked all seven innings in the circle for the Big Sandy Ladycats in Tuesday’s 10-9 win over the visiting Apple Springs Lady Eagles.
Caitlyn Cain (12) snags a ball in center field during action against Apple Springs.
A terrific run of two seasons has come to a close, as the Big Sandy Wildcats dropped a 50-43 decision to the Hornets of Muenster Friday morning in the Alamodome.
For 10 seniors, it will be the last time taking the floor for the Wildcats. Each of the past two seasons have ended at the state tournament, with last year, in the state title game. The lone holdover, Samuel Richard, will be a junior next season, leading a youthful bunch.
Angel Bullock picked up where he left off in San Antonio last year, popping a three from the wing on the Wildcats' first possession. After a Muenster field goal, Benson Williams hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key, followed quickly by a Bullock layup off a steal for a 8-2 lead.
With 5:40 still left to play in the opening period, Joseph Williams collected his second foul and was sent to the bench early.
Benson Williams spinning in the lane for a finger roll followed three Hornet points. Big Sandy led 10-5 at the first media time out with 3:35 on the clock.
Muenster tied the game at 10 with an offensive put back and 3-pointer. Zach Dickens broke the tie in the paint and Richard soon did the same.
“Getting here is really hard, so to do it back-to-back years is really special,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “I told the kids in the locker room the senior class has meant a lot to our program. There have been three regional tournaments and we have been to state two times. Obviously, today wasn't our best day, but that happens. Muenster had a lot to do with that. They defended us and did an outstanding job. I told the kids that when you get here, you can't have an average game and win. You have to play good and we didn't today, we were just kind of average and Munster outplayed us.”
Logan Cook, the six-foot six-inch guard who is the son of Hornet head coach Lynn Cook, had five rebounds, keeping Big Sandy from additional opportunities.
At the end of one, the Wildcats held a slim 14-12 advantage.
Second chances continued to haunt Big Sandy, as Muenster took a 16-15 lead with 4:30 left in the second. Blake Hoepfner completed a three-point play, giving him 10 points and four rebounds. The Hornets had a four-point lead inside four minutes of the second.
Bullock fired a quick pass into Joseph Williams for two underneath, and then Dickens passed to the same scorer for two more and the tie.
Minutes later, Dickens used his body to shield the ball and was fouled while finishing off the glass. The Wildcats once again had the lead at 21-19. Rebounding improved for the 'Cats, putting bodies on Hornets to collect misses.
With five seconds to go, Bullock pulled up from almost the identical spot he hit the game's initial points for three more.
“We had one little spurt at the end of the second quarter,” Foster said. “We needed to rebound well to get our transition game going. Anytime they were able to get back and get their defense set, we didn't shoot the ball well. That's just part of our game, but we had some clean looks that we didn't make.
“They did a good job of protecting the basket and making it hard to drive and score once they were able to get their defense set. We never could get anything going transition-wise, we tried all of our presses that we normally do and they did a good job of not turning the ball over. They did a good job of controlling the pace of the game. If we would have made some shots, it probably would have turned out different, but we didn't.”
Going into the locker room, the squad from Dallardsville led 24-19.
At the half, Hoepfner led Muenster with 10 points, while Cook was tops with eight rebounds. Blayne Jones had gathered two steals. Big Sandy's Bullock was tops on the team with eight points, four rebounds and two thefts.
Cook began the second half with a bank shot in the lane. Free throws allowed the Hornets to climb closer and a reverse layup by Jones tied the game at 25. Cook put Muenster up by two with a put back, his eleventh rebound.
Bullock broke the run and knotted the contest at 27 on a backdoor layup. He later found the net on a three to tie the game again at 30.
Richard broke the tie on a put back with 46 seconds left in the third. A Muenster free throw set up the final quarter with Big Sandy holding a 32-31 edge.
John Weger began the scoring, as the lead changed once more. Jones followed with a pull-up jumper. Hoepfner went to the line on a Bullock foul, making one of two for a 36-32 lead with 4:28 in the game.
Out of a Big Sandy time out, Benson Williams was called for a charge that turned into a Jones jumper on the other end.
Benson then hit a three from the wing, cutting the lead in half to three. With 2:39 remaining, Muenster led 38-35 and called for time.
Bullock was whistled on a questionable call, allowing for two more Hornet free throws and a 40-35 lead. Joseph Williams then missed the goal completely and Muenster took possession on another missed call, as Cook had tipped the shot.
Jones hit another three-point play with 1:12 left, gaining a 10-point lead, sealing the match and season for Big Sandy.
A 21-7 disparity in fouls called aided the Hornets, as Muenster took 25 shots at the line to the Wildcats' five. However, rebounds were the difference in the game. Cook alone collected 26 and Muenster had 38, while Big Sandy totaled 25, five of those coming after the game was decided. A total of 15 points were scored on second chance shots for the Hornets, compared to seven for the ‘Cats.
“That was something we talked about coming in,” Foster said of the rebounding difference. “That is one of their strengths, especially (Cook). The other kids are so good at driving and they force you to help. He is so big and cleans up the rebounds. It was a big factor in the game.”
Jones and Hoepfner shared high point with 14, while Weger added 11. For Big Sandy, Bullock led the team with 13, while Benson Williams had 12.
The Big Sandy Wildcats receive their medals following a disappointing 50-43 loss to the Muenster Hornets in Friday's Class 2A state semifinal game in San Antonio.
Joseph Williams (24) shoots in the paint for the Wildcats.
Angel Bullock drives the baseline for a shot in the paint against Muenster.
Samuel Richard was called for a charging foul during first half action Friday versus the Muenster Hornets.
The Big Sandy Wildcats experienced defeat for just the third time this season, losing to Muenster 50-43 in the Class 2A state semifinals Friday morning at the San Antonio Alamodome. The state's top-ranked team conclude their season with a 38-3 record.