Lady Tigers refuse to lose

TYE CHANDLER sports@theglenrosereporter.com
Taya Vasquez leads the offense against Peaster with an RBI single and an RBI double, as both hits came with two outs. The senior also pitched her first complete game of the season, allowing just two earned runs.

If the opposition leaves any glimmer of hope for Lady Tiger softball, a red rally is a very real possibility.

Down to its last out and trailing by three at Peaster, Glen Rose (8-3, 3-0) rolled up five runs March 17 for a thrilling 8-6 victory. The Lady Tigers finished with more hits (13-12) and errors (3-1).

"This was a very big win," said coach Kiel Miller. "That's one of the teams I thought would contend for a playoff spot, and I told the girls they better be ready for them. Going in to play Brock at 3-0 is a big difference from 2-1."

Right fielder Aubrey Starnes had a strong night on the wet field with four putouts.

"It was lots of fun to come back," Starnes said. "We were down on ourselves, but Kensy (Massey) started us off (in the seventh) and from there we just shot off. I think we relaxed and did what we were meant to do. Just believing was the most important thing."

Speaking of believing, Starnes was determined to earn an increased role after primarily running bases last season.

"I was really happy with myself (against Peaster)," she said. "I've never made four catches in a game before, but I can't get big-headed about it just like my teammates wouldn't. I have put in so much work this year, because I really wanted to be able to go out there, compete with my friends and enjoy my junior year on varsity. It's a big honor to be out there in the outfield with Sabrina (Watson) and Madi (Gibson) and have Coach Miller coach me."

Top hitters were Taya Vasquez (double, single, 2 RBIs), Destenie Lewis (2 singles, 2 RBIs), Page Green (triple, single, RBI), Sabrina Watson (2 singles) and Madi Gibson (2 singles). Watson (3) and Green (2) led the team in runs. Other hitters were Kensy Massey (single), Brittany Miller (single) and K.K. Aper (single).

"Page and Taya both had great hits to help our comeback," Starnes said. "Page is having a great year, and all she's going to do is get better."

"We were molding (Miller and Aper) last year into varsity players for this season," Miller said. "They are fulfilling their roles real well right now. Madi is like another leadoff hitter down in the nine-spot. She can bunt or hit."

For the first time this season, Vasquez (7 IP, 6 R - 2 ER, 12 H, 1 W, 1 K) went the distance in the circle.

"(Peaster) hit the ball real well in the early innings, but we also had some costly errors that led to four of their runs," Miller said. "Taya hung in there, but we need to get back to playing good defense. Those two-out errors can hurt you."

Peaster led 2-1 after the first inning. Glen Rose got on the board in the first with a Watson leadoff single and a two-out Vasquez RBI single. Miller also singled in the inning.

Peaster went up 4-1 after two innings, and then it was a 6-3 game through three. Glen Rose scored two in the third thanks to a Watson leadoff single, a Green double, a Lewis RBI sac fly and then Green scored on an error.

"All I ask as our leadoff is for Sabrina to get on base somehow," Miller said. "That's how we get things rolling. Sabrina turned her ankle in the third and hit the ground hard, but she refused to come out and played the rest of the way on a sprained ankle. It was a big gut check right there."

After three scoreless innings, a Massey single produced the only Glen Rose baserunner before there were two outs in the seventh.

"That was big time after Kensy had struggled in her earlier at bats," Miller said. "She outran the throw and gave us a chance, because we needed baserunners."

Watson drew a walk for the second baserunner, and then Massey stole home (6-4). A Green RBI triple made it 6-5.

"Page is having a great season," Miller said. "She hit the ball hard three times, but one was right to the centerfielder."

A Lewis RBI single tied the score at 6-6.

"Destenie's bat is real big for us," Miller said. "She's been sick the last few days, but she went out and played an outstanding game."

A Vasquez RBI double proved to be the game winner, as both of the senior's hits came with two outs.

"With girls getting on in front of her, Taya is going to be productive and hit the ball," Miller said. "Taya had two strikes on the double, and she hit a shot."

For good measure, courtesy runner Jaylan Evans scored on a passed ball (8-6).

"I told everybody 'if we go down, we're going to be fighting,'" Miller said. "I will not allow anyone to give up, and these girls know that. It took us nearly the whole game to get excited, but in the seventh we were fired up and it showed in our production."

One of the Glen Rose errors came in the bottom of the seventh to give Miller a scare, but the Lady Tigers closed it out. Even with their most errors in awhile, there were some strong plays in the field.

"Aubrey played a good ballgame and ran down a couple of fly balls that would've been gap shots," Miller said. "She caught the ball really well. Destenie had a diving knockdown at shortstop and threw the girl out at first base from her knees."

Glen Rose even made two double plays. One involved Massey to Lewis to Aper in the sixth, while the other was about Miller to Aper to Green in the fourth, as the catcher made a tag at third.

"That was an outstanding play," Miller said of the double play in the fourth. "I don't know that I've ever seen one like that."

Glen Rose now faces its toughest challenge of the season on paper, as No. 6 Brock comes calling March 20 at 7 p.m.

"This is the kind of game we needed to get ready for Brock," Starnes said. "Hopefully we start like we ended this game."

"We can't rely on the big inning again," Miller said. "We need to be steady with a run or two in every inning and be solid defensively. Put the ball in play against good pitching and make their defense work."