Rangers softball starting conference play

Kris Dobbins / THE FLARE || Kaitlyn Hipsher pushes her opponent out of the way as she makes it to base safely in the doubleheader against McLennan Community College Wednesday. The Rangers start conference play this weekend in the three-day Region XIV Round Robin Tournament at Lear Park in Longview.
Kris Dobbins / THE FLARE || Kaitlyn Hipsher pushes her opponent out of the way as she makes it to base safely in the doubleheader against McLennan Community College Wednesday. The Rangers start conference play this weekend in the three-day Region XIV Round Robin Tournament at Lear Park in Longview.

MILES MARABLE & KEIRA PHIPPS
Staff Writers

Ranger Softball is 7-18 in non-conference play and will compete in the three-day Region XIV Round Robin Tournament at Lear Park in Longview today through Sunday. The tournament also marks the start of conference play.

“I’m hoping for consistency and a winning record,” said head coach Leslie Messina. “We have to just play one pitch at a time.”

Going into the Round Robin Tournament Messina said her confidence level is at a 10, but the team still has things to work on.

“We still have to work on a few fundamentals along with our swings and bunting,” Messina said. “The team is starting to click together and each week we learn things that will benefit us.”

After playing in the three-day tournament, the Rangers will get some time off before returning to action. They will travel to Gainesville 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday, March 14,  to take on North Central Texas in a doubleheader.

The Rangers will return home to host Trinity Valley in a doubleheader 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, March 16, and Paris Junior College 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 20.

The Rangers lost a hard-fought doubleheader Wednesday against McLennan Community College. In the first game, KC got out to a slow start down 7-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. KC finally got on the board when freshman Lakin Kerby drove in two runs with a single that put the score at 7-2. KC struck again in the top of the seventh inning with a triple by Kaitlyn Hipsher and KC pulled within two. KC fell just short of a historic comeback, losing the first game 7-5.

After scoring five unanswered runs in the first game, KC looked to carry that momentum in the second game scoring first in the second inning with a single by freshman Alex Aguilar. KC led 1-0 in the bottom of the third until McLennan freshman Kady Crow hit a home run to tie the game at one a piece. From then on neither team could score again in regulation, so the game went into extra innings. The Rangers gave up two runs in the extra inning and trailed 3-1. Sophomore Heather Bunn drove in a run with a single that put KC within one. Bunn’s run was not enough as the Rangers  fell short once again in a very competitive game, 3-2.

Saturday

The KC softball team went 2-1 Saturday on the secondday of the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth.

In the first game against Independence Community College, KC caught fire scoring five runs in the top of the third inning including a three-run homer by sophomore Heather Bunn. The Rangers won the game 9-2. The winning pitcher, sophomore Jessica Simon, had 13 first-pitch strikes and 10 strikeouts.

In the second game against North Central Texas College, the Rangers found themselves down 5-0 in the bottom of the sixth  inning, until a pair of singles by sophomores Kaitlyn Hipsher and Tricia Hock put KC on the board. Despite the hard effort, the Rangers fell short, losing 5-2.

In the final game, KC won against Northern Oklahoma College, 4-1. After falling behind 1-0 early, the Rangers scored four unanswered points to finish 2-1 on the day.

The Rangers finished 3-3 in the Cowtown Classic with a non-conference record of 5-14 in their inaugural season.

The Rangers traveled to Fort Worth Friday to participate in the Cowtown Classic Tournament at Gateway Park. In Friday’s first game KC fell short to Midland College, losing 2-11.  In game two the Rangers came together with Laura Martinez who went 2-4 at the plate to pull off a 7-2 victory over the Lady Racers of Murray State College.

KC went on to end the first day of tournament play, losing 3-6 against Weatherford College. The Rangers previously lost in a face-off against the Lady Coyotes in the McLennan College Tournament (Feb. 15-16). KC rallied hard but lost a close decision to the Lady Coyotes, 3-6.