Lady Tigers shock No. 5 Brock

TYE CHANDLER sports@theglenrosereporter.com
Sabrina Watson ties for the team lead with three hits against Brock, including the game-winning RBI single.

The No. 5 Brock Lady Eagles rolled into Glen Rose March 23 without a loss on the season, but they didn't leave Somervell County unblemished.

Glen Rose (9-4, 4-1) pounded out 13 hits in a 7-6 victory. Brock mustered eight hits, while the Lady Tigers made more errors (5-4) in an 11-3A statement game.

"I just told them we're never going to bow down to anybody," said coach Kiel Miller. "I don't care who they are. All week I've said 'I want Brock,' and they finally started believing we could compete. I told the girls to expect to go extra innings if needed.

"We've been working on hitting outside pitches - going wherever the ball is thrown - and you saw it pay off with a lot of shots to the right side of the field. It's a tribute to their hard work in practice."

Taya Vasquez (3 singles, 2 RBIs) and Sabrina Watson (3 singles, RBI) led the offense, as Watson had the game-winning hit.

"We just had to really believe in our teammates and ourselves - have faith that everything would work out if we worked hard for it," Watson said. "It's awesome how close we are as a team this year."

Other offensive contributors were Sydney Lozier (2 singles), Page Green (2 singles), Brittany Miller (single, 2 RBIs), K.K. Aper (double, RBI) and Destenie Lewis (single). Lozier, Miller and Aper are each in their first varsity season.

"I'm very proud of our young players, especially to do this against Brock," Watson said. "They really represented Glen Rose well."

Aper (4 2/3 IP, 3 R - 1 ER, 5 H, 7 W, 3 K) battled the Brock lineup before Vasquez (2 1/3 IP, 3 R - 0 ER, 3 H, 2 K) came on in relief.

"K.K. has improved tremendously," Watson said. "I couldn't tell you how hard she works everyday."

Aper got herself in a bind with three walks in the top of the first, but shortstop Lewis caught a high line drive and then first baseman Vasquez held onto a popup despite colliding with second baseman Kensy Massey. Watson and Vasquez singled in the home first, as Glen Rose loaded the bases with one out, but Brock escaped unharmed.

Brock made it 1-0 in the second via a walk and an RBI single. It was the only earned run of the game for the visitors.

Aper retired the side in the Brock third, as left fielder Sierra Armstrong tracked down a fly ball and catcher Green threw a girl out on a bunt attempt.

"K.K. worked her way out of a slump (this season), and we need her to continue to do that to take pressure off of Taya," Miller said. "This game showed, not only Coach (Carrie) Lytle and I, but K.K., if she gets out there, competes and maintains her composure that she can throw with some of the better teams."

In the home third, Glen Rose went up 2-1 thanks to four-straight hits from Lewis (single), Vasquez (single), Miller (RBI single) and Aper (RBI double).

"(Miller and Aper) are listed as sophomores, but expected to play as seniors," Miller said. "I think they did that, and they are growing up by the game."

Brock regained a lead at 3-2 in the fourth with a single, an RBI single, a two-out error, a walk and a bases-loaded walk (RBI). Vasquez came in to face one batter and struck her out.

"If someone makes a mistake, we pick each other up no matter what," Watson said.

Glen Rose had an answer, opening the home fourth with three-straight hits from Lozier (single), Watson (single) and Green (bunt single).

"Sabrina's offense is really coming around," Miller said. "Her hands are working the bat the way she's supposed to and putting the ball in play."

With the bases loaded and one out, Vasquez hit a two-RBI single. Miller followed with an RBI groundout (5-3).

"Taya is a big-time offensive player," Miller said.

The first two Brock hitters in the fifth singled, but Green threw one of them out at second from her knees with a Lewis tag. Back in the circle, Aper fielded a groundout with runners on the corners to get off the field.

"Not everybody in the district has a catcher who can make that throw from her knees," Miller said. "To block the ball and get the throw was outstanding."

Vasquez came on to pitch the sixth, and Brock struck for three runs (5-6) via a single, a bunt single, a throwing error, a two-out fielding error and an RBI single.

Green manufactured a run in the home sixth with a leadoff single, a stolen base, a Lewis sac fly and then went home on a wild pitch (6-6).

"Page did a great job of capitalizing against their defense," Miller said.

Vasquez kept Brock off the board in the seventh, despite another two-out error, as Armstrong caught a foul pop and Lewis capped off a brilliant defensive game that saw her register seven outs and an assist with no errors.

"Destenie had an awesome defensive game," Watson said. "She always made the play."

"The plan was to bring Taya in if we got in trouble, and then go back to K.K.," Miller said. "Taya only threw 30-something pitches, which is less than a workout for her. Both of them pitched outstanding."

With two outs in the home seventh, Aubrey Starnes was hit by a pitch. On a Lozier single to center, Starnes narrowly managed to make it to third.

"Sydney put the bat on the ball for two hits," Miller said. "She showed coach what she can do as a freshman."

Watson stepped to the plate and connected on a full-count RBI single to center to cement the upset win.

"You just have to watch the pitcher's hand and believe you can do it," Watson said. "I just remember being happy that I saw (Aubrey) score the winning run."

Glen Rose traveled to Grandview the following night, as the hosts showed the district race is far from over. Senior Lexi Meadows threw a two-hit shutout with four strikeouts in a 7-0 victory. District leader Grandview had 10 hits and made one error, compared to four for Glen Rose.

"They kept us off-balance at the plate," Miller said. "We couldn't string hits together and left runners in scoring position early on. That's one of the better pitchers we've seen all year. You have to give Grandview props - they're a good ball club.

"We could've played better. Against a good team, you can't make as many mistakes as we did."

A Vasquez single in the second and a Lozier single in the third was all for the Glen Rose offense. The Lady Tigers had runners on the corners with one out in the second inning, but the pitcher caught a Massey bunt attempt and doubled off a runner at first base. Glen Rose never got a runner to second base again.

"That (double play) hurt us with a great opportunity to take the lead," Miller said. "We hit the ball solid at times at people, but I was pleased that we didn't strike out very much. You have to make the defense work."

Aper (5 2/3 IP, 7 R - 0 ER, 10 H, 1 HBP, 1 W) pitched the entire game except for one batter Vasquez faced (1/3 IP). The hit batter and walk didn't come until the sixth inning with Glen Rose already down 5-0.

"K.K. pitched well," Miller said. "She pitched a lot of innings over two days for her team. K.K. put us in position to make a better ballgame out of it. We just didn't follow that up offensively or at times defensively."

To Miller's point, Aper didn't give up any earned runs. She had an error taking a throw from Green that allowed a runner to advance to third, while the other three were charged to Armstrong in left field. Glen Rose executed a rundown at one point that went Green to Vasquez (1B) to Lewis to Green, as the catcher sprinted down to first base and made a diving tag.

"That was a great play," Miller said. "You can't be flat-footed against Page. It was great effort and hustle by her to get down the baseline and get involved in the play for the tag.

"We played a good defensive game for the most part, but a few times we didn't get outs when we had a chance to get out of trouble. Our infield was solid."

Glen Rose, which was without normal starting left fielder Madi Gibson in both games, will now host Hillsboro March 27 at 7 p.m.

"If we can finish the first (11-3A) round at 6-1, we're primed for a couple of showdowns with Brock and Grandview down the line," Miller said. "It's been awhile since we've lost a game (March 6), and we have to rebound with hard work and realize that beating Hillsboro puts us in a great position."