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Lady Lions tame Kennedale Wildcats in 6-3 win

With the district schedule on its doorstep, the Lady Lion softball team appears to be rounding into form.
Ennis (5-5) made some excellent defensive plays and pounded out 12 hits on Tuesday night to notch a 6-3 victory over the 3A Kennedale Wildcats. The visitors had their chances to score early, but couldn’t get on the board until the Lady Lions were already in control up 6-0.
“We showed a lot of mental toughness tonight,” said coach Rodney McNeill.
“Even though we hit the ball early, we didn’t have anything to show for it and [Kennedale] was threatening to score. The kids kept their energy up, stayed ready and got out of some tough situations [in the field].”
Tori Davis had a big night at the plate with a homer, a double, a single and two RBIs, but the junior also mowed down Wildcat hitters with 11 strikeouts. Heather Fincher was in the zone at the plate with three singles and an RBI, while Brittani Zhanel had arguably the game’s biggest hit with a two-RBI single that keyed a four-run fourth inning.
“We got out of a lot of trouble with runners on base because our defense pulled it out,” Davis said.
“Heather had an awesome game and everybody hit the ball, which takes the pressure off of me. We kept bouncing around the whole game and were in a good rhythm, so hopefully we carry it into the Wylie Tournament [on Thursday].”
The Wildcats went down quickly in the top of the first as Davis struck out two while Emily Rejcek made a nice running catch in left field. Davis doubled to the left-center fence in the bottom of the inning and Whitney Quick singled, but Davis would be thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice to keep the game scoreless.
“Emily [Rejcek] made a great catch and it was good to see her charge the ball,” McNeill said.
“She and Kaitlyn [Colunga in center] both had some screamers come their way, but they’re doing a good job.”
Davis struck out two once again in the second while Heather Fincher’s single to left would be the only Ennis hit in the inning.
“Getting that first hit early was big for my confidence in the other at bats,” Fincher said.
“I switched to linear hitting from rotational and have been doing better. It’s just about where I locate my hands during the swing. It was good to see everybody doing their part for us tonight, so we just need to keep up our energy and be ready to go every game we play.”
Kennedale opened the third with consecutive singles, yet Ennis would make a stand as Davis notched her fifth strikeout while Samantha Cox and Samantha Stampley each fielded groundouts, as the latter of which prevented a sure 1-0 Wildcat lead. In the bottom of the inning, Davis drilled a line-shot homer to left for the 1-0 advantage as Rejcek flew out just a few feet from her own home run.
“We’d needed to be more effective throwing the ball up and in and Tori did that tonight,” McNeill said.
“Regardless of whether or not we hit a couple of people, I was proud of her for going inside and making a lot of good pitches. Tori has been one of our best hitters for a while and tonight she showed why. I think her and Samantha [Stampley] at the top of the order can give us a spark and it worked out tonight.”
“I felt like I barely even hit it, but I think I caught it on the right part of the bat,” Davis said of her solo shot.
“It was good to help myself out [in the circle].”
An error, a hit batter and a single enabled Kennedale to load the bases in the fourth, yet Davis found a way to escape danger once again as she tracked down a bunt popup for the third out.
“It was a big relief to catch that bunt and get off the field,” the pitcher said.
Ennis got on a roll in the bottom of the inning as five of six batters registered a hit at one point. After line singles by Emily Moser and Heather Fincher, Zhanel connected on a two-RBI single and advanced all the way to third on an error for a 3-0 lead. RBI singles by Stampley and Davis pushed the lead to 5-0 before the Wildcats could stop the bleeding.
“Brittani’s production is starting to get more consistent,” the coach said.
“She worked hard all summer on hitting left-handed and that was a big hit for a sophomore to impact the game with the pressure on. I was proud of her.”
Davis struck out two more in the fifth and fielded a groundout to maintain the big lead. Rejcek led off the bottom of the inning with a bloop double on the right-field line and Heather Fincher was at it again three batters later with an RBI infield single to push the lead to six.
“Heather is probably the best athlete on the team and can do a lot of things with her quickness,” McNeill said.
“She just needed a chance to show what she can do and tonight she came through. Her ability on the bases is very impressive.”
Kennedale finally strung some hits together in the sixth with a double, an RBI triple and an RBI double for a 6-2 game, yet two more Davis strikeouts and a Zhanel fielded groundout at first minimized the damage. Colunga’s leadoff single would be the only Ennis hit in the bottom of the inning.
The Wildcats put one more run on the board in the seventh via a walk and an RBI double, but Sara Fincher made an excellent backhanded catch at second on a groundout while Cox fielded a groundout at third and Davis ended the game with her eleventh strikeout.
“Our infield is picking up their play and a lot of that has to do with Brittani playing well at first and the other infielders being confident in her,” McNeill said.
“She and Sara [at second base] have a better understanding of where their territory is and I fully expect Brittani to be a strong point for us defensively by the end of the year. Last year, Kennedale had about half of their team because of the basketball playoffs; but we saw them at full strength tonight and they’re a quality team.”
Ennis will now take part in the Wylie Tournament on Thursday and Saturday while it opens up district play on Friday night in Lancaster at 7 p.m.
“We really want to get on a streak now and both coaches and players believe we can compete with everybody we’ll see the rest of the way,” McNeill said.
“This win didn’t happen by accident; the girls made it happen because they worked hard.”

Kennedale 0 0 0 0 0 2 1-3 8 3
Ennis (5-5) 0 0 1 4 1 0 X-6 12 1
Lady Lion pitching: Tori Davis – 7 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 3 W, 2 HBP, 11 SO
Lady Lion hitting: Tori Davis – HR, double, single, 2 RBIs; Heather Fincher – 3 singles, RBI; Brittani Zhanel – single, 2 RBIs; Samantha Stampley – single, RBI; Emily Rejcek – double; Whitney Quick / Emily Moser / Kaitlyn Colunga – single

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Posted by on Feb 28 2007. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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