Ennis Ford Perfect Drive
Ennis Daily News

JH Lady Crusaders shine in 5-1 DPL championship victory

Three titles in four seasons, sounds like a dynasty.
Call the junior high Lady Crusaders what you will, but consider them champions. St. John (12-0-1) capped off an undefeated softball season on Wednesday night at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Arlington with an impressive 5-1 triumph over the St. Patrick Panthers (10-2).
Most of the players on the team also won Dallas Parochial League (DPL) softball championships in 2005 and 2006. St. John pulled out a 2-1 home win over St. Patrick in the regular season and drew from that contest when it reached the big stage.
“I think the [extensive] batting practice at a high speed we took on Tuesday really helped the girls out,” said coach Teddy Calvert.
“This was our best game of the year and we shook off any nerves after the first inning.”
St. John scored a run in five of its six offensive innings to slowly pull away as St. Patrick managed one run in the sixth. The Lady Crusaders out-hit St. Patrick 7-3 and committed fewer errors (5-4).
Kamren Bragg (two doubles) and Lacie Farmer (two singles, RBI) led the Lady Crusader offense, while Abby Liska (single, RBI), Megan Hickman (double) and Candice Hager (single) also came through at the plate. Bragg (7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 3 W, 10 SO) was sensational in the circle just as she was in Monday’s semifinal blowout win.
St. Patrick pitcher Erin Brennan (6 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 3 W, INT W, 11 SO) was dominant early in the game, but the Lady Crusaders got to her down the stretch.
Though the first Panther batter of the game drilled a hard liner back up the middle, Bragg was quick as a cat to snatch it out of the air. First baseman Breanna Calvert hauled in a groundout as Bragg retired the Panthers in order.
In the bottom of the inning, Bragg led off with a standup double on a grounder down the left-field line. Despite Brennan soon striking out three batters, she couldn’t prevent a Liska RBI fielder’s choice for a 1-0 advantage.
“Once Kamren got that first hit, everybody believed they could do it,” Liska said.
“Some girls hit better tonight than I’ve seen all season and I was proud of all my teammates.”
“Kamren got us off to a great start at the plate tonight,” the coach added.
“[Brennan] has always been strong and we just did our best to keep the bats on the ball.”
While a walk and an error put two Panthers on with no outs in the second, the St. John defense had an answer. Third baseman Farmer alertly hauled in a fielder’s choice bunt and got the lead out with the help of shortstop Hickman. On the heels of a Bragg strikeout, second baseman Laura Gomez scooped up a grounder to keep St. Patrick at bay.
St. John went quietly in its second and made sure St. Patrick did the same in the top of the third. Hickman fielded a groundout and Gomez made a nice retreating grab on a bloop fly.
“Laura’s defense is so strong and she made a lot of plays tonight,” Calvert said.
“Breanna made every catch she could reach at first base.”
Farmer singled to shallow right center early in the St. John third, advancing to third base on a passed ball and a wild pitch. She got in a rundown when Gomez put the ball in play, but a high throw home by the third baseman enabled Farmer to make it 2-0.
“I was just making sure to keep my eye on the ball [at the plate] and not pull my head out, so I put my shirt in my mouth and it worked,” Farmer said.
“I struck out all three times against [Brennan] last game, so I feel really good about how I did tonight. This was a great way to end the season and I’ll miss playing with all [my teammates] so much.”
Though a single and ensuing fielding error put a Panther on third for the second time in as many innings, Bragg was up to the challenge. She fielded a groundout and fanned the other two batters she faced.
“I mainly went with my fastball and sometimes a changeup or a curveball,” Bragg said.
“I also threw a few dropballs. We really practiced hard for this rematch and came in with more confidence after beating them the first time. This was our third time to play on this field, so I don’t think we were as nervous about it this year.”
Hager connected on an infield single early in the St. John fourth and eventually scored (3-0) when a dropped third strike went to the backstop. A huge key to the win was the fact Liska severely outplayed the Panther catcher defensively. She never allowed a passed ball and St. Patrick was afraid to test her arm on the bases.
“Candice is a seventh grader who plays like a veteran,” Calvert said.
“She pays great attention in practice and does whatever you ask. Abby is like a wall back there and doesn’t let anything get past her.”
“I told Kamren not to pitch on the ground and she got me through it out there by keeping her control,” Liska said of her stellar defensive showing.
“When they got runners on base, I just told myself to keep the ball in front. [Kamren and I] started calling pitches this season and I think that throws the batters off.”
Bragg was at her best in the Panther fifth, following a Gomez fielded groundout with a pair of strikeouts. After a couple of early strikeouts, Hickman got to Brennan in the St. John fifth with a leadoff standup double down the left-field line. She scored two passed balls later for a 4-0 lead.
“Kamren did an outstanding job of pitching and she comes through in the clutch every time,” Calvert said.
“Megan has always been good with the bat and she was going to come away with a good hit before the night was over.”
Though a walk and an RBI single finally got St. Patrick on the board in the sixth, Bragg was dealing like she worked in a casino with a trio of strikeouts. Bragg drilled a standup double in the bottom of the inning and scored on Farmer’s RBI single to center to finalize the score. Liska also singled to center before a double play got St. Patrick off the field.
“Lacie has been great at the plate for us and improved with every game,” Calvert said.
“She came through tonight. [Brennan] normally carries their team and I knew if we could start hitting she’d get rattled.”
An infield single only postponed the inevitable in the Panther seventh as Gomez and Farmer made plays before combining on a fielder’s choice at second base to clinch the championship.
“Coach [David] Lynch brought some great ideas to our team and really gave us a boost,” Calvert said.
“This is our fourth year in the [nine-team] DPL and to come out with three championships has been fantastic. I’m greatly honored to be a part of it with these girls.”
While the high school future of these young ladies lies ahead, it’s obviously been a great ride for them in the Dallas Parochial League.

Post to Twitter




Posted by on May 29 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed

Featured Links

    Search Archive

    Search by Date
    Search by Category
    Search with Google

    Photo Gallery

    Log in


    Copyright: All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Ennis Daily News content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Ennis Daily News. Ennis Daily News and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Ellis County Newspapers, Inc.

    © Ellis County Newspapers, Inc. 2019