Lady Buffs complete sweep of UTPB

Nick Alvarado, Editor for The Prairie

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West Texas A&M pitcher Kilee Halbert became the program’s all-time career leader in wins as the Lady Buffs swept UTPB in a twin-bill on Friday.

Halbert, who improved to 14-4 on the season, surpassed Marci Womack, who collected 70 victories in the 2009-2012 seasons. Halbert also pitched a complete five innings as she struck out nine batters and not allowing an earned run in her showing.

“It’s just excitement, just knowing I’ve been here all four years,” Halbert said.

“It’s fantastic for somebody like her,” WT softball coach Candace Abrams said. “She’s worked her butt off since her freshman year and she’s got better every single year. She’s become a dominant force in the circle and I absolutely love it.”

The No. 14 Lady Buffs immediately got on the board in the bottom of the first inning with the help of a single from Suka van Gurp that brought home centerfielder Ashley Hardin, a run that was unearned in the eyes of the Lady Falcons.

Shaney Starkey added on to the lead with a RBI single that plated Coveney home to extend the Lady Buff lead to 2-0.

Flower Mound native Allie Smith cleared the bases with a double down the right field line that scored both Starkey and van Gurp as WT lead 4-0 after an inning.

Kylee Moore added to her home run total of the season, hitting her 20th homer of the season in the bottom of the third inning that passed the batting cage and extended the Lady Buff lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the third inning.

“I just looked at my charts from last year and I knew what they were going to throw me,” Moore said. “I knew I had to execute the outside pitch well this weekend and that’s what I did.”

“She’s having a great approach at the plate,” Abrams said. “We [coaching staff] continue to talk to her about her approach and what she needs to do at the plate to be successful. Our lineup is tough, if you pitch around one, you get another really good hitter. Kylee has really stepped it up at the position she is in.”

The bats remained hot for the Lady Buffs in their respective frame of the third inning as Starkey reached on base with a single into center field. She advanced to third with an error from the UTPB center fielder as Van Gurp reached home to add on to the lead.

Shanna McBroom hit her sixth homer of the season into left field that cleared the bases and brought WT to an 8-0 lead.

Another unearned run game against UTPB in the bottom of the fourth as Coveney scored off an error by the Lady Falcon right fielder that saw the lead extend to 9-0.

West Texas A&M 9, UTPB 0

UTPB   0            0            0            0            0            —           0              4            3

WT       4            0            4            1            x            —           9              11         1

2B: Smith (5); HR: WT – Moore (20), McBroom (6); SB: Hardin (7), Coveney (3); Moore (1); van Gurp (5) 

Lady Buffs 13, UTPB 0

Starkey improved to 11-0 on the season as she fanned four batters and also not allowing an earned run in a complete game showing as WT used a big first inning to outlast UTPB, 13-0, in the opening game of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.

“We really compliment each other well,” Halbert said. “Her coming in lefty spinning it and I throw it harder righty, I think we really compliment each other.”

The first inning showing started from the get-go as Hardin slammed her 12th home run of the season to put WT on the board early.

As Coveney got on base with a double into left field, Moore followed up with a RBI single that extended the lead to 2-0 early on with no outs.

After a van Gurp pop fly to first base for the first out, Starkey had her first hit of the day with a double into right field that scored Moore and brought WT to a 3-0 lead. Starkey later advanced to third on the following play as McBroom flied out to second base.

Smith hit her third home run of the season into left center field, extending the lead to 5-0 in the first inning.

McLemore then followed up with a home run of her own to left field, hitting her sixth long ball of the season, to end the scoring in the first inning.

The offense continued its ways in the second inning as McBroom singled up the middle of the field that scored van Gurp.

Smith continued her solid offensive showing, hitting a single down the middle that scored McBroom and Starkey that extended the WT lead to 9-0 after two complete innings.

Moore went two-for-two after hitting a single into center field that scored Hardin in the bottom of the third to push the WT lead to 10-0.

Another opportunity came to extend the lead as Moore stole home off a wild pitch and gave WT a 11-0 advantage after three.

The non-starters also made their mark on the game as Evelyn Baker recorded her first collegiate hit with a solo home run into center field in the bottom of the fourth inning. India Holland also hit her first hit of her career as a Lady Buff with a double that brought home Hardin, bringing the score to 13-0.

The series serves as a confidence booster ahead of a big road series against A&M-Commerce on April 6-7.

“We are going to take that confidence into Commerce and do what we know how to do,” Moore said.

“It was a good weekend for us to take care of some things,” Abrams said. “We cleaned it up very nicely. We are getting better and better every time on defense and that’s all I can ask for. Commerce is a big weekend for us coming up. We had to take care of this one before we look ahead.”

West Texas A&M 13, UTPB 0

UTPB   0            0            0            0            0            —           0              5            0

WT       6            3            2            2            0            —           13              15         0

LOB: UTPB 6, WT 4; 2B: UTPB – Gonzales (1); WT – Coveney (3), Holland (1); Starkey 2(7); HR: Hardin (12), Smith (3), McLemore (6), Baker (1); SB: Hardin 3(6); McBroom (7)

Around the conference

Tarleton sweep No. 4 Angelo State on the road – The Rambelles dropped their first home series for the first time since March 2016 when they faced Texas Woman’s, dropping three of the four games then.

Brandy Marlett took the circle in the Saturday double header as she fanned eight in five innings in an 8-0 win in game one of the series. Courtney Barnhill recorded her first home run of the season as she sent two-for-four with two RBIs. Madison Greenwell went two-four-four with three RBIs and a double in game one. Tarleton’s Megan Rosewell picked up her first loss of the season, pitching five and a third innings.

It was a different story in game two of the series that was also the rubber game between the two top-20 squads.

After three scoreless innings, Angelo struck first with a solo homer from Courtney Barnhill in the bottom of the fourth. The TexAnns found their response in the top of the sixth inning as Georgia Capell doubled into center field to bring in Elizabeth Svienty to tie the game at one apiece.

The eventual game winning hit came from Meghann Wrinkle as she hit a single into center field that scored Capell as Tarleton took game three, 2-1, to win the series.

Tarleton improved to 32-7 on the season while Angelo State dropped to 30-6.

A&M-Commerce extends winning streak to 15 – The No. 9 Lions of A&M-Commerce stretched their winning streak to 15 games after completing the sweep of Eastern New Mexico in Portales on Friday, winning 11-3 in five innings.

The Lions used a four-run fourth inning that gave a key push to the victory.

Bri Sims grounded out to shortstop that scored Baylea Higgs to extend the lead to 6-2.

Jodie Hill followed up with a three-run home run to clear the bases and proved to be key in the victory as it extended the Commerce lead to 9-2 after four innings.

Kimber Neal and Kinsie Hebler each had solo home runs in the top of the fifth inning respectively.