Photo – Ronnie Pierce
Lamar drops Lion Softball, 2-1, in the season finale.
BEAUMONT – The 2023 season ended on Saturday at the LU Softball Complex for the Texas A&M University-Commerce softball team, which fell 2-1 to Lamar.
The Lions finish their inaugural NCAA Division I season with a 9-39 overall and 5-19 in Southland Conference play. Coming into the final weekend of the regular season, the Lions had the most formidable strength of schedule in the Southland. They played with 16 new players this season, the most of any NCAA Division I team in 2023.
“Our first season in Division I is under our belts, and I could not be prouder of how Avery and Ayanna lead this team through much adversity and change,” said first-year coach Brittany Miller. “I am proud of the way this team got better throughout the year, and we will continue to build with our returners that are coming back.”
On Saturday, the first two Lions batters reached safely but were left stranded. Through the first three innings, A&M-Commerce left five on base. In the bottom of the third, Avery Zeigler (Southlake Carroll) walked to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a base hit by Diamond Sefe (Carson, Calif.).
Ayanna Williams (Round Rock – Cedar Ridge) loaded the bases with a base hit, and Elizabeth Guerrero (International School of Americas) brought home Zeigler on a sacrifice fly.
The Lions left two more on base in the fourth. Lamar tied the game in the bottom of the inning. A pitch hit Sam Bean, and Kaylee Ancelot reached on a fielding error in the outfield. Rien Milliken drove in Bean with a one-run single to center. After a pitching change, Lamar tried a double steal, but the Lions were able to get the out at home.
With one out in the sixth, Bean doubled to left and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After Ancelot walked and stole second, Milliken hit a sacrifice fly to left to bring home Bean.
The Lions had a runner at second with one out in the top of the seventh but could not get the tying run across. A&M-Commerce totaled seven hits in the game, with two coming from Tatum Wright (Frisco – Centennial), and Zeigler reached base safely twice on two walks.
Batting in the cleanup spot, Milliken drove in both runs for the Cardinals and had two of the three hits.
Anissa Arredondo (San Antonio – Warren) allowed one unearned run in her three-inning start for the Lions. Julia Sanchez (The Kinkaid School) tossed the final three innings, allowing one run on two walks and a hit. Aaliyah Ruiz was the winning pitcher in all three games this weekend. On Saturday, she struck out six while allowing seven hits and one earned run.
Saturday marked the final game in the collegiate careers of Zeigler and Williams, who played two seasons for A&M-Commerce.