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  • Defending state champions swatting big flys

    IMG 6363BRIAN BESCH | PCE Lady Lion senior Elaina Evans stretches for the throw from third base in her final home game.

    By Brian Besch

    The Livingston Lady Lions dropped their final home game of the 2021 season Tuesday, as the Hargrave Lady Falcons took a 6-1 decision.

    Showing some power at the plate, the Lady Falcons utilized a couple of home runs in the fourth inning that would decide the outcome. Hagan Pike smacked a solo shot, and after a runner reached base, Maddi Smith notched two more on the board with a connection that cleared the wall in left field.

    Added to a run scored in the first, that put the girls from Huffman up 4-0. Livingston pushed a run across in the sixth inning, started by a Kaylie Bush single and sacrifice off the bat of freshman Jaycee Knighton to push her to second. Carrie Parker slapped a single into the grass and slid into second when the throw home could not catch Bush.

    IMG 6425BRIAN BESCH | PCE Carrie Parker slides into second base after driving in a run.

    Pike would strike again in the seventh with the bases loaded and no one out. Her single allowed two more to score.

    “It has been a struggle and we will make a mistake and then make another mistake,” Livingston coach Ruth Wright said. “Knowing what we are supposed to do when we get the ball, we've done a lot better, I thought. They don't have the experience and I have been playing with different positions, so they have had to get comfortable at two different positions. I basically go with if you are getting the job done at the plate, I am going to put you somewhere defensively.” 

    Three of those that Wright said has performed at the plate this season are freshmen. They have also functioned in key roles when the Lady Lions take the field. Allison Lytle and Knighton both contribute by pitching and Baylee Yantes has been on the receiving end behind the plate. On Tuesday, Lytle started, throwing four frames and Knighton finished off the final three.

    District 21-4A has produced the last two state champions in Liberty and Hargrave, and the competition is proving strong once more this year.

    “The bottom line is this district is amazing,” Wright said. “The pitching is great and if you miss your spot, it can be deadly. The combination of pitchers (Lytle and Knighton), they got a lot of reps this year and that confidence is going to help. On varsity playing as a freshmen, I have three of them and they stepped up and did a great job. They are only going to get better.”

    On the other end, the Lady Lions will lose a lone senior, first baseman Elaina Evans.

    “Ever since freshman year, this group of girls has been great,” Evans said of her time wearing the green. “I'm going to miss the girls the most. We have grown together, played together, improved together and made great memories. We have had great coaches that have not only taught us to play the game, but to love the game. I'm just going to miss the people I've built a family here with the most.”

    IMG 6354BRIAN BESCH | PCE Kaylie Bush would single and score the only Livingston run Tuesday.

    With most everyone returning next year, the coach is optimistic on the future of Livingston softball.

    “We’ll continue to grow. With Elena being gone, we're going to miss her, but the depth here is good,” Wright said. “These girls are going to work outside of school and there are several that are playing select ball. This year has been (about) building, obviously, and we are getting a little more consistent.”

  • Lady Trojans outshine Lady Tigers

    040121 softball 1TONY FARKAS | SJNT Coldsprint-Oakhurst Lady Trojan Cami Fussell (No. 4) attempts to lay down a bunt during Friday’s game against Trinity. The Lady Trojans won 18-8.

    SJNT staff

    TRINITY — The Lady Trojans hammered runs out here and there to take a win over Trinity on Friday.

    "We are taking it day-by-day," Coldspring coach Brandi Hill said. "Trinity is pretty good. Their ace pitcher ended up getting hurt, so they had to pull in backups. We just kind of hung with them at the very beginning and weren't hitting very well, but just making contact.

    "We ended up scratching out a couple of runs here and there,” she said. “When she got injured and they had to pull her is when they were trying to keep things together, but it was really difficult for them."

    Trinity Head Coach Doug Sanchez said Tiger Pitcher Cynthia Sizemore was injured, and the backup pitcher didn’t mount much defense.

    Hill said the team is working to improve, with a goal of reaching the postseason. She said the offense usually begins clicking as games progress.

    "It is hard for us to start, but as time goes, we are piecing together hits here and there by the end of the game."

    The team is trying to get consistent play and "level out the bumps and trying to keep everybody on the same page" to improve. Coldspring's district record is 2-3 and tied for fourth place with Tarkington, which currently holds the tiebreaker in a win over the Lady Trojans.

    To this point, Coldspring has dropped district games to Onalaska, Tarkington and Hardin, while defeating Anderson-Shiro and Trinity. New Waverly is the top team in district and the Lady Trojans challenged them Tuesday to finish up the first round of league play.

    “We have a good fighting chance and hopefully things end up better on the second time through district."

    Sanchez touted Dayanara Martinez, who hit her first home run of the season during the game, and Dezi Galvan and Abby Crowton, who each go their first hits at the varsity level.

    Trinity heads to district play on Thursday against Onalaska.

  • Livingston softball takes county bragging rights

    Pitcher Jaycee KnightonBRIAN BESCH | PCE Pitcher Jaycee Knighton allowed just two runs over seven innings in Livingston's win Friday over Onalaska.

    By Brian Besch

    Lady Lion softball took a one-run win 3-2 over neighboring Onalaska Friday at Livingston ISD’s softball complex.

    Down a run, Livingston scored once in the fourth to tie, with two more in the fifth to secure a lead they would not surrender.

    Onalaska opened a tight, scoreless game in the fourth when Kenadi Houser walked and stole second base. That allowed Madison Wilson to drive in the first of two RBIs on the night.

    Pitching for the Lady Cats was freshman Savannah Benningfield, who threw 4.1 innings, giving up three runs, two that were earned. She struck out three, walked three and gave up the same amount of runs. Madi Anderson relieved her, and finished out 1.2 innings, allowing just one hit.

    “I was very impressed with my kids tonight,” Onalaska coach David Brown said. “From where we were at last time we played them (an 11-3 loss on March 2), 3-2, I will take that. We made several errors last time that killed us early and just didn't recover.

    “The first pitcher that pitched the five innings is a freshman and she does a good job of controlling the plate and she did a good job tonight. They had a hard time waiting on her and if we can get our combination to work like that where she can pitch for five innings and then we come in with Madi and she be on, we’ll be fine.”

    Answering in the bottom half of that fourth inning, Livingston’s Jaycee Knighton walked, Carrie Parker singled and Baylee Yantes bunted and reached by error to load the bags. Raylee Gaston also put a ball in play that was not fielded cleanly and scored the tieing run.

    In the following frame, Janae Bland was hit by a pitch and stole second. Soon after, Knighton singled her home. Parker would then walk and Gaston got another run in, singling for a 3-1 advantage.

    Knighton was also effective on the mound, where she held Onalaska to two runs over seven innings for the win.

    “The girls are getting better,” Lady Lion coach Ruth Wright said. “We still have to take care of defense behind our pitchers. They are hitting their spots and doing a great job. We need to communicate before the ball is pitched and get a game plan of what we are supposed to do. I think it is a matter of getting more used to each other.

    “At the plate, we just need the reps. We need to realize that they are throwing to us and it doesn't mean that we have to hit their pitch — we can hit our pitch. We get in there and we are a little overanxious and decide that we are just going to swing instead of being patient, especially with runners in scoring position.”

    Onalaska would get one more run, as Wilson drove in Kierra Anstee in the sixth.

    “We took too many called third strikes, but they were hitting spots,” Brown said. “We've not played a really close ball game like that and I was hoping to get in one of those. Next Friday night, we play Hardin and they are going to have a good pitcher. We didn't hit the ball like we are capable of hitting it, but you are going to run into games like that.”

    In district, Livingston has dropped a game to a very good Liberty squad and had eight errors against Splendora in a two-run loss. They have, however, beaten Hardin-Jefferson 11-3 in a road contest.

    Now at 11-6-1 overall, Livingston will take on Hamshire-Fannett Tuesday. The 11-4 Lady Cats will host Anderson-Shiro in a district match Tuesday.

  • Wilkinson commits to Rich Mountain

    SPORTS Sunnie Wilkinson 012621PHOTO COURTESY OF COLMESNEIL ISD ATHLETICS Colmesneil Lady Dog (and soon-to-be Rich Mountain Buck) Sunnie Wilkinson at bat.

    By Chris Edwards

    COLMESNEIL – Lady Dogs softballer Sunnie Wilkinson announced her commitment to play for the Rich Mountain Bucks last week.

    Wilkinson, a senior, announced the commitment on social media. “I am honored and blessed to announce my commitment to further my education and play softball at the University of Arkansas, Rich Mountain,” she said.

    Wilkinson, who is set to graduate Colmesneil High School this year, as part of the class of 2021, plays short stop, left field and centerfield for the Lady Dogs under Coach Kayla Day.

    She said she wants to thank her coaches, family and friends to help her further her goals, both on the diamond and in the classroom.

    The Rich Mountain campus is located in Mena, Arkansas and is part of the University of Arkansas system.

    The school’s softball program was added to its athletic offerings in 2020, under the direction of Coach Tracy Nealy, a 34-year veteran of coaching various softball programs.

    Currently, Wilkinson and her Lady Dog teammates are prepping for the coming season. They began practice the second week of January and are scheduled to play the Groveton Lady Indians at home at 5 p.m. on Feb. 16 to kick off the season after scrimmages with Onalaska, Corrigan, Hudson, Woodville and Huntington.