Photo – Aiden Pelphrey
Lion Softball opens its homestand against the Cardinals.
COMMERCE – Entering the home stretch of the regular season, the Texas A&M University-Commerce softball team is back in Commerce this weekend as it hosts UIW for three critical matchups in the Southland Conference standings.
LIONS’ SCHEDULE VS. UIW
|Friday, April 21||5 p.m.||ESPN+ • Live Stats|
|Friday, April 21||7 p.m.||ESPN+ • Live Stats|
|Saturday, April 22||Noon||ESPN+ • Live Stats|
Bennett has stolen 14 bases this season, which ranks her eighth in the conference. Ashlynn Griffith (Cedar Hill) is 9 for 10 in steal attempts, tied for 18th.
BATS COME ALIVE IN THE DESERT
After being shut out in the first two games of the Hillenbrand Invitational, the Lions scored eight against No. 18/16 Arizona, including a grand slam by Camile Nunez (Madera, Calif.) to highlight a six-run fourth inning. The Lions followed it up with a 17-12 win over CSUN and 8-7 over Weber State.
LIONS LOVE WALK-OFFS
Three of the five wins for the Lions thus far this season have been in walk-off fashion. Last month, Shelby Hodge (Katy – Cinco Ranch) hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to beat Creighton in extra innings, while America Rubio (El Paso – Montwood) had the walk-off grounder against Weber State. In the conference opener, Avery Zeigler (Southlake Carroll) hit a walk-off one-run single in the eighth for the Lions’ first win at home.
NUNEZ HITS IT FAR
Nunez hit the program’s 34th grand slam against Arizona on March 4. It was also her first home run of the season for the junior transfer from Vernon College. The Lions have had at least one grand slam in all but one season in program history.
FIRST SOUTHLAND ACTION
This season is the first in the Southland Conference for the Lions, who walked it off in eight over Nicholls in their first-ever Southland game. The preseason poll picked A&M-Commerce to finish seventh among nine teams. At the end of the season, the top seven teams in the SLC will qualify for the conference tournament.
SLC PRESEASON POLL
LIONS DOWN AKRON FOR FIRST DIVISION I WIN
A&M-Commerce beat Akron at Tarleton on February 17 to open the Whataburger Invitational by a score of 7-4 for the first win as a Division I program. It was also coach Brittany Miller‘s first win as a head coach.
LIONS WALK-OFF BLUE JAYS
On February 19 at the Whataburger Invitational, A&M-Commerce collected a 5-4 win in eight innings over Creighton. Hodge hit a sacrifice fly to the left to bring in the game-winning run. It was the first true walk-off win in a game that lasted seven or more innings since Ayanna Williams (Round Rock – Cedar Ridge) had the game-winning hit against No. 2 Augustana in the season-opener last season.
PLAYING THE BEST OF THE BEST
A&M-Commerce’s strength of schedules ranks No. 61 in Division I and second in the Southland.
TOUGH COMPETITION TO START
The Lions begin the season with numerous games against ranked opponents and teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Thus far this season, the Lions have played Maryland, Baylor, Arizona, and Arkansas, all ranked nationally at the time the Lions played them. At the same time, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Minnesota, and North Texas have all appeared in national polls at some point this season.
PLENTY OF NEW LIONS
A&M-Commerce retains just four players from last season, welcoming 16 new faces to the squad in 2023. The 16 new players could be the most on any roster in Division I this season.
IT ENDED ON A HIGH NOTE
The Lions ended the Division II era by winning the Lone Star Conference Tournament, the program’s first conference title, and served as hosts during the NCAA Regional round. It was the third straight postseason that the Lions served as hosts, and it was their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.
SCOUTING THE CARDINALS
UIW comes into this weekend’s series tied for seventh in the Southland standings, holding one of the final spots in the Southland Conference Tournament. The Cardinals are 13-24-1 on the season and 5-10 in conference play.
The Cardinals are batting .261 with 13 home runs on the season. Kendall McGary leads the team with a batting average of .313. She has also hit two home runs and 13 RBIs, Baylee Lemons has a team-best 15 RBIs, and Avalon Sanchez has three home runs.
The UIW’s staff is pitching to an ERA of 5.58 this season with 158 strikeouts. Annie Gunther is 6-6 in 16 appearances with 20 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.68. Aaliyah Garcia has started 11 games and is the team leader with 52 strikeouts.
Lion Track & Field heads to Waco for the final road trip of 2023.
COMMERCE – Texas A&M University-Commerce track and field team heads on the road one final time in 2023 as it participates in the Michael Johnson Invitational at Baylor this weekend.
You can find live results of the meet HERE, along with information as well as the schedule can be found HERE.
LAST TIME OUT FOR THE LIONS
A&M-Commerce hosted the East Texas Invitational last weekend, with two Lions setting facility records and several new personal bests. J.T. Smith (Klein Oak) earned Southland Conference Men’s Track Athlete of the Week after setting the facility record in the men’s 100-meter dash.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE LIONS
The Lions host the East Texas Quad next Thursday, which is the final meet of the regular season. The following week, A&M-Commerce hosts the Southland Conference Outdoor Championships on May 4-6.
THE LION MEN
Smith and Delan Edwin (Castries, Saint Lucia) are 1-2 in the Southland rankings in the 100-meter dash with times of 9.95 seconds and 10.06 seconds, respectively. While in the 200-meter dash, Edwin is first with a time of 20.14 seconds, and Smith is second with a time of 20.28 seconds. All four times are above the legal wind threshold.
In the 110-meter hurdles, Cameron Macon (Dallas – Carter) timed 14.30 seconds for seventh in the Southland. Nicholas Deutsch (Frisco) is second, Chris Navarrete (Laredo – Lyndon B. Johnson) is fifth, and Colten Van Voorhis (Prosper – Rock Hill) is eighth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with times of 9:38.14, 10:23.62, and 11:05.74, respectively.
In the relays, the Lions rank second in both the 4×100 meter relay and the 4×400 meter relay.
Tyke Owens (Lebanon Trail) is sixth in the high jump with a clearance mark of 6 feet 5.5 inches (1.97m), and Aiden Pelphrey (Princeton) is eighth with an imprint of 6 feet 4.75 inches (1.95m). Chandler King (Hughes Springs) ranks fourth in the long jump with a mark of 24 feet 1.75 (7.38m), and Trayveon Franklin (Scurry Rosser) is third in the triple jump with a season-best mark of 49 feet 3.75 inches (15.03m).
Leah Pettis (McKinney North) is second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.61 seconds. Mariana Shostak (Lviv, Ukraine) is third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.14 seconds and fifth in the 400-meter dash with 54.99 seconds.
Naomi Ndukwe (Perserville, France) is second with 1:00.55 in the 400-meter hurdles, and Maia Maury (Noisy-Le-Grand, France) is fourth with a time of 1:02.11. The 4×100-meter relay team ranks eighth, and the 4×400-meter relay team ranks second.
In the field events, Veronika Kramarenko (Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine) is second in the high jump with a mark of 5 feet 8.75 inches (1.75m), Jenneil Jacobie (Piat Gros Islet, Saint Lucia) is third with an imprint of 5 feet 6 inches (1.68m), and Maury is seventh with a mark of 5 feet 5 inches (1.65m).
Destiny Skidmore (Marshfield, Mo.) ranks eighth in the pole vault, measuring 10 feet 6 inches (3.20m). Dejah Fuller (Waxahachie Life) and Amaka Ezukanma (Fort Worth – Timber Creek) are both seventh in the triple jump with identical season-best marks of 38 feet 8.25 inches (11.79m).
Tamara Susa (Novi Sad, Serbia) is the conference leader in the javelin by nearly two meters with a mark of 157 feet 8 inches (48.05m). Elizabeth Ortiz (Palacios) is second in the heptathlon with 4,529 points.