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SOFTBALL

Lions use wild fifth-inning rally to pounce on Florida Tech 9-4, finish tourney 4-1

The Lions finished 4-1 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla, including a win over the No. 17 ranked team in the country.

CLEARWATER Fla.– The Texas A&M University-Commerce softball team picked up a 9-4 win over Florida Institute of Technology on Sunday to wrap up their weekend tournament in Florida. The Lions fell behind 3-1 early but scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take the lead for good.

The win brings the Lions to 8-2 on the season, and they finished 4-1 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. FIT fell to 6-3 and 3-1 in the tournament.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– Katie Dean came in for the Lions in the bottom of the fifth inning and got the win, pitching 2 and two-thirds innings. She had two strikeouts and five groundouts, helping the Lions avoid damage in the fifth inning. Sierra Abbott came in with bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning and got a strikeout to record the save.
– The Lions scored six runs on six hits in the bottom of the fifth inning.
– Mariah Jameyson finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI triple. She also had a run scored and was a part of a critical double play for the Lions in the top of the fifth inning.
– Ciera Nunez went 2-for-4 and scored two runs. Vanessa Avina went 2-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored.
– December Rivers had two RBIs. Baylea Higgs, Chealsea Slider, Precious Thompson and Kayla Kilcrease also each drove in a run.
– Kinsie Hebler got the start and pitched three innings, getting three strikeouts on 54 pitches.
– The Lions scored nine runs on 12 hits and drew two walks while striking out just two times.
– A&M-Commerce hit .414 as a whole while FIT hit .310 with six strikeouts and eight walks.

HOW IT HAPPENED
It was a pitchers duel in the first inning. Hebler struck out the first batter she faced and retired two more without the ball leaving the infield. On the other side of the inning, Hebler scorched a pitch that was too hot to handle for the shortstop, and she got on first with a two-out single. The Lions were unable to get her around, and the game remained scoreless after one.

The Panthers got their first batter on base in the top of the second with a single through the right side of the infield. She stole second base and FIT had a runner in scoring position with no out. Hebler struck out the next two batters and got the final out on a fly out to left field.

Avina was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the second. She advanced to second base on a fielder’s choice and then stole third base. Rivers drove her on a groundout, and the Lions were the first on the board. A&M-Commerce led 1-0 after two innings.

The Panthers responded in the top of the third inning. After a leadoff walk, the next batter hammered a pitch down the left-field line for a double, advancing two runners into scoring position. The next batter flew out to right field but drove in the tying run. The game tied at 1-1 and there was no other damage.

After going three-up, three-down in the bottom of the third, the Lion defense found themselves in a jam in the top of the fourth. After bringing in a new pitcher, the Lions got the first out but then had three of the next four batters reach, and a run crossed the plate. Another run came in on an infield single. However, Selena Rima came into the game and got the Lions out of the inning with only a two-run deficit.

The Lions rallied in the bottom of the fourth inning to cut into the FIT lead. Jameyson doubled down the left field line, and a single from Avina brought her to third base. Slider was up next and singled through the left side of the infield to drive in the run. After four innings, the Lions trailed 3-2.

The Lions again faced bases loaded with no outs in the top of the fifth. Dean was brought into the game to get the Lions out of the inning. She did just that. She fielded a grounder and got the runner out at home for the first out. The next batter attempted a bunt, but it barely left the batter’s box and Jameyson picked it up, tagged home plate and then fired the ball down to first for the inning-ending double play. The Lions only trailed by one going into the bottom of the inning.

The Panthers replaced their starting pitcher, and the Lions tied the game up in the bottom of the fifth after just two batters. Nunez had an infield single to lead off. Higgs then got a hit into right field. Nunez turned on the jets and went from first to third and beat the throw. Higgs then ran to second and beat the throw that was then muffed, allowing Nunez to score on the error. Avina then drove in Higgs on an infield single, beating the throw to first base.

The Lions weren’t finished yet. After a walk by Slider followed by consecutive outs, Rivers came to the plate and had an infield single, driving in Avina. Thompson then singled through the right side of the infield to drive in Slider. Kilcrease joined the hit fest with a single of her own to drive in a run, bringing in Rivers. After FIT had changed pitchers again, Kilcrease attempted to steal second base, and the throw was wild, which allowed Thompson to score. Kilcrease tried to take third base but was thrown out, but after the run had crossed the plate. The Lions used the six-run inning to lead 8-3 at the end of the fifth.

The Panthers looked to rally in the top of the sixth inning and had their first two batters reach. After a strikeout, the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice to get the second out. The next batter hit a blooper into the center, and the runner on third beat the throw at home to score. However, only one run would cross the plate, and the Lions led 8-4.

The Lions got another run in the bottom of the sixth. Nunez got a leadoff single and then advanced on two groundouts. She was driven in by Jameyson, who hit a soft fly to right field. The ball went under the glove of the right fielder, and she raced around the bases tallying a RBI triple. That finished the scoring for the Lions, as they led 9-4 going into the final inning.

After Dean struck out the first batter of the top of the seventh and got the second batter to ground out, FIT got a single and then drew two walks to load the bases. The Lions went to the bullpen and brought in Abbott. With the tying run on deck, Abbott got a four-pitch swinging strikeout to end the contest and get the save.

SOFTBALL

Softball splits two games on the second day of NFCA Classic, Lions down No. 17 Saint Leo

CLEARWATER, Fla.– The Texas A&M University-Commerce softball team got a win and a loss Saturday in day two of the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla. The Lions lost to No. 13 Valdosta State University 6-0 in the morning and then beat No. 17 Saint Leo University 3-2 in the afternoon.

The Lions are now 7-2 on the season. Valdosta State went to 7-2 on the season, and Saint Leo fell to 7-2.

The Lions return to action on Sunday for their final game in Florida. They will face Florida Tech at 11:30 a.m. EST.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– Selena Rima pitched five innings to get the win in the Lions’ second game, striking out two batters and giving up just one earned-run. She also relieved in the Lions’ first game and struck out two in her lone inning of action. Katie Dean came in and got the two-inning save, striking out three with no runs allowed.
– Sierra Abbott pitched three innings in her first start of the season, recording a strikeout.
– A&M-Commerce and VSU both had eight hits in the first game. However, the Lions were unable to put together enough hits to get the base runners around.
– The Lions had five hits to SLU’s six but scored one more run.
– Baylea Higgs hit .714 with five hits in seven at-bats over the two games. She also had a stolen base.
– Ciera Nunez hit 4-of-6 for a .667 batting average.
– Mariah Jameyson, Chealsea Slider, and December Rivers each had a RBI.

HOW IT HAPPENED (Game 1)
The Lions got their first two hitters on base in the top of the first, but a couple of grounders stopped the Lions from getting on the board in the top of the first.

VSU got on the board in the bottom of the first. After getting a single, the leadoff batter stole second and got into scoring position. Another single up the middle drove her home to bring the score to 1-0. Abbott got out of the inning without giving up another hit, downing the next three batters.

Both teams did little in the second inning. Abbott recorded a strikeout in the bottom of the second, and the score remained 1-0 for the Blazers.

After a one-two-three inning from the Lions, the Blazers again threatened in the bottom of the third. VSU had a leadoff triple and the next batter singled up the middle to drive in the run. The next batter hit a double just out of reach of the left fielder, and another run crossed the plate. The next batter singled to center and drove in another run. Seeing the throw go to home plate, the runner got greedy and tried to stretch the single into a double and got thrown out by Jameyson. Another out ended the inning. VSU led 4-0.

The Lions threatened in the top of the fourth. With two outs, the Lions rallied to get consecutive singles. Vanessa Avina came into pinch hit and got on base after being hit by a pitch. However, the rally stalled after Monica Cherry swung and the ball hit her in hand. The ball was ruled fair, and the throw went down to first to keep the Lions off the board.

The Blazers finished the scoring in the bottom of the fourth. The first two batters had got on base before Courtnee Jones struck out the next batter. The next hitter got on due to an error, and Jones then struck out the next batter. With the bases loaded, a blooping double fell into the center field, driving in the last two runs of the game.

Neither team threatened again. In the bottom of the sixth, Rima came to finish the game and struck out two batters swinging, using ten pitches to retire the side. However, the Lions couldn’t get a rally going in the top of the seventh.

HOW IT HAPPENED (Game 2)
SLU put a scare to A&M-Commerce early, with two leadoff singles to start the game. However, Rima settled in and retired the next three batters to keep the game scoreless.

The Lions wasted no time getting their first run of the game in the bottom of the first. Nunez and Higgs both singled and both stole second base to lead off, and Kinsie Hebler and Jameyson both drew walks, driving Nunez across the plate. This action prompted a quick pitching change.

The Lions didn’t stop there. Slider had an infield single where the runner beat the throw to home. Rivers finished off the scoring with a sacrifice fly to drive in Hebler. The Lions led 3-0 after the first inning.

Rima had a seven-pitch strikeout followed by an eight-pitch walk to start the second inning. After getting another out, SLU scored with an infield single that had the runner take two bases. The Lions led 3-1 after the top of the second.

The Lions looked to be in business in the bottom of the second after getting the first two batters on base. However, a shoestring catch on a shallow fly to center and the runner on second didn’t tag back up in time and was thrown out for a double play. A groundout ended the inning.

SLU had a pair of bunt hits in the top of the third inning. However, Rima pitched out of the jam, and the runners never got around.

After the Lions had gone three-up and three-down in the bottom of the third, Saint Leo got on the board again in the top half of the fourth. After the first two batters had got out, another bunt was laid down for a successful hit. The next batter got on due to a walk. The runner on second attempted to steal third, and the throw was wild. The runner got up and crossed home plate. The runner that took second base also tried to make it to third but was thrown out by the catcher, and that ended the inning. The Lions led 3-2 after three and a half innings.

The rest of the game was a defensive battle. Both teams had three-up, three-down in the next inning. The Lions got a base hit from Higgs in the bottom of the fifth, but nothing came of it.

Dean entered the game in the top of the sixth inning. She proceeded to strike out the side, keeping the Lions in the lead going into the bottom of the sixth.

The Lions again were retired in order in the bottom of the sixth. After a groundout had started the top of the seventh inning, a fielding error gave SLU hope with the tying run on base. However, Rima forced a groundout to the second baseman, and she turned and fired the ball to the shortstop on second base, and she threw it to first for the double play to end the game.

TRACK

Romero and 4×400 relay teams shine as Lions complete regular season; LSC Championship next weekend

JOPLIN, Mo. and PITTSBURG, Kan. – The Texas A&M University-Commerce indoor track and field teams put the wraps on the regular indoor season with five more provisional marks across two meets, with the 4×400 relay teams for both the women and men putting up solid times.

Luis Romero set a new provisional mark in the 800 meters at the Gorilla Classic, where he is the defending national champion. He ran the race in 1:49.38, which is currently the fourth-fastest time in Division II this season.

The women’s 4×400 meter relay team of Kamryn McKee, Verlencia Shaw, Ana Baleveicau, and Ashley Bassett set a new school record at 3:51.23. That NCAA provisional mark is the fastest by a Lone Star Conference team this season.

The men’s 4×400 meter relay team of Llewellyn Woodburn, Aaron LeCesne, Josiah Dennis, and Dedrian Windham put up a provisional qualifying time of 3:13.89, which is the sixth-fastest in the nation this season.

Alexandra VanSickle earned a provisional qualifying mark of 14.33 meters in the women’s shot put. Also in the field events, DeVontae Steele and Gage Bowles put up provisional qualifying level marks in the men’s triple jump of 15.24 and 14.73 meters, though those are not their best marks this season.

At the MSSU Lion Invitational, Collin Millsap earned a provisional qualifying mark in the men’s pole vault with a vault of 4.70 meters. Florian Obst won the 60-meter hurdles in 8.59 seconds.

The Lions are next in action in Alamosa, Colo., on Saturday, February 18, and Sunday, February 19, for the Lone Star Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship. The Lion men have won the last two LSC indoor titles.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

Seniors shine on Senior Day in Lions’ 77-59 win over Javelinas

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team had big nights from four seniors in the annual Senior Day Game on the way to a 77-59 win over Texas A&M University-Kingsville on Saturday.

The Lions are now 17-7 overall and 9-6 in the Lone Star Conference with the win, while the Javelinas fall to 14-9 overall and 7-7 in the LSC.

A&M-Commerce plays its final home game of the season on Thursday, February 16, at 7 p.m. against Tarleton State.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– De’Andre Carson tied a career high with 20 points for the Lions, also picking up six rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
– Malik Albert scored 19 points with six rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
– Trey Seymore netted 13 points with five assists and four rebounds, and Jovan Austin scored 12 points with four rebounds and three assists.
– The Lions shot 46.6 percent (27-of-58) from the field in the contest and limited the Javelinas to a 37.7 percent (20-of-53) shooting percentage.
– Marquieth Russell had 11 rebounds in the competition, as the Lions held a 39-31 advantage on the boards.
– The Lions honored Albert, Austin, Carson, Seymore, and Weston Zeller in Senior day ceremonies before the contest.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Neither team was able to pull away in the early going, as the pace did not favor breakaway scoring. The Javelinas scored five straight points to go up 23-21 with 10:13 left in the first half.

The Lion defense clamped down and allowed only two more field goals in half. While the teams combined to go without a field goal for nearly five minutes, the Lions pulled away from the charity stripe and would lead by as many as 11 points in the half before taking a 37-28 lead into the locker room.

Carson made four three-pointers in the opening stages of the second half. His triple at the 16:58 mark made it a 46-34 game, and the Lion lead would stay in double figures for the rest of the contest.

Russell had a contested putback to start a 6-0 run in the middle of the frame. Daquane Willford’s run capped a layup at the 10:55 mark to make it 60-40 and give the Lions their first 20-point advantage.

The Javelinas were never able to get a comeback rally going, and the Lions cruised to victory.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Lions drop game in final seconds to A&M-Kingsville, 67-65

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker to Texas A&M University-Kingsville on Saturday afternoon. In a wild finish that included four lead changes in the final minute, the Lions lost 67-65 on a three-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining.

The loss drops the Lions to 17-7 and 11-5 in the Lone Star Conference. The Javelinas jump to 11-11 and 6-10 in conference play.

The Lions return to action on Tuesday for their final home game of the regular season. They face Tarleton State at 7 p.m. at the Field House as part of Play 4 Kay. Spectators are encouraged to wear pink to the game in support of breast cancer awareness.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– There were nine lead changes in the match, with four coming in the final minute of action.
– Jenna Price had her fifth double-double of the season, leading the Lions with 15 points and 13 rebounds. She also had four steals.
– Khala Riley had 13 points, six rebounds and seven assists to go along with four steals.
– Krystal Pickron and Artaejah Gay each had 10 points. Gay hit two shots in the final minute that both regained the lead for the Lions. Brianna Wise added nine points and four rebounds.
– The Lions caused 24 turnovers but gave the ball up 20 times themselves.
– A&M-Commerce had 13 offensive rebounds and turned them into 16-second chance points.
– A&M-Kingsville’s Shaq Debose led all scorers with 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting. She made a three-pointer with three seconds left to win the game for the Javelinas. Meesha Wade added 12 points for A&M-Kingsville.

HOW IT HAPPENED
The Lions started off on fire, scoring the game’s first seven points in just over a minute. Price drained a three-pointer on the game’s first possession, followed by a Riley fast break layup and a Wise jumper. A&M-Commerce had pushed the lead to nine points at 11-2 on a Pickron jumper at the 7:49 mark.

From there, the Lion shooting went cold, allowing the Javelinas to get back into the game. A&M-Commerce didn’t make a field goal in the final six minutes of the first quarter and only led 16-12 after the first quarter.

A&M-Kingsville opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run, swinging the lead to the favor of the guests at 18-16 with eight minutes until the break. Wise nailed a three-pointer to stop the surge, and the Lions woke up in the middle of the period. The home side scored seven straight points and held Kingsville off the board for three and a half minutes. The lead went to 26-21 for Commerce.

Pickron hit a three-pointer with 30 seconds left in half, and the Lions would lead 33-29 at halftime.

Riley led the Lions with nine points at halftime. She also had four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Price had seven points and ten rebounds in the first half. Pickron added seven for the Lions.

Debose led all scorers with 14 points at intermission. The Lions shot 34.4 percent in the first half and held the Javelinas to 30.0 percent.

The Javelinas tied the game with 7:44 left in the third quarter. The Lions then went on a 5-0 run, but then A&M-Kingsville went on a 7-0 run to retake the lead midway through the quarter.

Debose continued to come on strong for the Javelinas, scoring six consecutive points to give A&M-Kingsville a six-point lead late in the quarter. Two free throws by Riley sent the Lions into the fourth quarter trailing 52-48.

Debose continued her personal run, scoring four more points to open the fourth quarter and the Javelinas went up by eight. The Lions then scored 10 of the next 12 points to tie the game once again. Gay and Pickron each had threes and Wise had two layups in the run that tied the game at 58 with five minutes left.

The game went down to the wire, with both teams going through cold stretches. After a field goal with 4:25 left, the Javelinas were held without a field goal until the final shot of the game. The Lions had one field goal over a four-minute stretch before Gay hit two shots late. With 49 seconds left, Gay hit a three from the top of the arc to give the Lions the lead.

The Javelinas drew a foul on their next possession and sunk both free throws to retake the lead. The Lions called a timeout, and with a display of ball movement, Penina Faumui got an open shot from 20 feet out that hit off the back of the iron.

A&M-Kingsville got the rebound, but the Lions quickly tied up the ball to force a jump. The possession arrow was with the Lions, and they were able to run a play. Gay got the ball on the left block and maneuvered right, and with a flip of the wrist, the ball rolled from the right side of the rim into the net to give the Lions the lead with 10 seconds left.

The Javelinas called their timeout to advance the ball and Debose got the ball and used a screen to shoot and bury a three-pointer with 3.3 seconds to play. The Lions had one last chance but had to go the length of the court and were unable to get off a shot in time.


Josh Manck
Director of Athletic Communications | Texas A&M University-Commerce