UPDATE at 1:45 p.m. on 5/3/19: The scheduled for this weekend's tournament has been updated.
They wanted to finish first in the Lone Star Conference softball standings.
The No. 8 nationally-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions had to settle for second place after going 2-1 in a weekend home series with Cameron University of Lawton, Okla.
The Lions won the first game 10-0 on Friday and then split a doubleheader with the Aggies on Saturday at the John Cain Family Complex as Cameron won the first game 5-1 and the Lions took the final game 11-3.
A&M-Commerce, now 37-11 for the season, finished one game behind Texas A&M-Kingsville in the LSC final standings at 23-7 and will head to the LSC tournament in Kingsville as the second seed. The Lions will play at 4 p.m. on Friday in the semifinals against the winner of the first-round tournament game between West Texas A&M and Angelo State. The championship game is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s one of those mixed emotion days,” said Lions coach Richie Bruister. “We didn’t win a conference championship but we had a chance to play for a conference championship. That’s always exciting to have an opportunity to do that. We put ourselves in position to do that. The mixed emotion is we lost that game but then came out in game two and responded.
“The way we fought and run ruled them in game two was outstanding and we were able to finish second in the conference and get that first round bye. It’s a great day when you are able to do that. We knew it was going to be hard to sweep Cameron. I’m proud of the team to come out and win the series.”
Sophomore left-hander Emily Otto pitched the Lions to both wins in the series. Otto shut out Cameron on two hits in the 10-0 win, walking one and striking out two. Otto finished with a five-hitter in the 11-3 win, allowing one earned run and two walks while fanning five to run her reason record to 25-6.
Kayla Kilcrease, Kinsie Hebler, Bri Sims, Chealsea Slider and Jodie Hill all pounded two hits in the 10-0 win as the Lions finished with 14 hits off two Aggie pitchers. Vanessa Muro drove in three runs. Madison Schaefer and Hebler drove in two runs each.
Hebler had the big bat in the 11-3 win, slugging a two-run homer in the first inning and a grand slam that bounced off the scorecard to end the game in the fifth inning.
Muro also slugged a two-run homer in the first inning as the Lions grabbed a 4-0 lead.
Catcher Avery Boley slugged a solo home run in the fourth inning.
Hebler led the Lions with three hits and six runs batted in. Sims finished with two hits.
Bethany Hines pitched Cameron to the 5-1 win, limiting the Lions to six hits while striking out eight.
Slider drove in Ciera Nunez with a double for the Lions’ only run in the second inning.
Cameron shortstop Brenna Busby slugged two homers for the Aggies, who are now 33-14 for the season.
Bruister and the Lions will now prepare for the LSC tournament.
“It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “The reason we have our conference set up this way is to reward those top teams for all the hard work they have put in.
“We are looking forward to going to Kingsville next weekend.”
Lone Star Conference softball tournament (Schedule updated on 5/3/19)
Vernie and Blanche Hubert Field
6 p.m. — No. 3 West Texas A&M vs. No. 6 Angelo State
8:30 p.m. — No. 4 Tarleton State vs. No. 5 Cameron
Noon — Game 1 winner vs. Texas A&M-Commerce
2:30 p.m. — Game 2 winner vs. Texas A&M-Kingsville
7 p.m.. — semifinal winners