CLIFTON – Winning six of their last seven games, the Clifton Lady Cub softball team knocked off Maypearl, 8-3, in the District 17-3A opener last Tuesday before playing well while hosting the Clifton Softball Tournament last Thursday-Saturday.
Kamryn Kettler hit a homer and drove in four runs while Kasandra Gaona tossed a complete game striking out eight to lead the Lady Cubs to a convincing 8-3 district opening victory at home last Tuesday evening. Kary Fuentes went three-for-four at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs, and Bailey Ledbetter went three-for-four with three runs scored and an RBI.
Despite being on Spring Break, Clifton (1-0 in district, 7-7 overall) will play back-to-back home-and-away district games against defending co-district champion Whitney, hosting the Lady Wildcats at 6 p.m. Tuesday before traveling to Whitney for a 6 p.m. game Friday.
After advancing to the Class 3A playoffs as the district’s fourth place team in 2019, the Lady Cubs hope to build on that experience and take their game to the next level.
“We are focusing on one day at a time and working in practice to improve the little things,” Clifton softball head coach Sam Ledlow said. “We are working on being consistent in our play and focusing on one inning at a time. I’m excited to see what we will do this season and how we will improve.
“We are continuing to learn different things in our losses that will help us in our district game against Whitney. I’m excited about this team and how coachable and competitive they are.”
Going into this week’s district games against Whitney, Kynli Bearden leads the Lady Cubs with a .636 batting average while driving in a team-high 19 runs, Kamryn Kettler owns a .593 batting average with 14 RBIs, and Ledbetter leads Clifton with 17 runs scored while batting. 548.
While extending their winning streak to five straight, the Lady Cubs opened their tournament with dominating wins over Teague, 11-0, the Class 4A China Spring JV, 9-0, and Tolar, 16-2, before Albany handed Clifton a decisive 7-1 loss. But the Lady Cubs bounced right back to close out the tournament with an overwhelming 10-1 victory over Tolar Saturday afternoon to take third place.
Clifton posted back-to-back shutout behind the pitching of Kassandra Gaona and Kamryn Kettler while the Lady Cub bats pounded out 12 extra base knocks while collecting 38 hits over the first three games of the tournament. Kettler blanked the China Spring JV with a one-hitter, striking out five, before Savannah Gayle tossed a gem to close out the tourney against Tolar.
“We played really good defense and adjusted at the plate each game to win our pool on Friday,” Ledlow said. “I’m proud of how focused we were all weekend playing three games Friday and two Saturday.”
The Lady Cubs lost six of their first seven games of the season, opening with back-to-back losses to Class 4A Lorena, 15-5, and Class 4A Stephenville, 16-6, before struggling in the highly competitive Glen Rose Tournament Feb. 27-29.
In the season opener against Lorena, the Lady Cubs held a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning before things came unraveled. But in the process, Clifton collected 15 hits, led by Bearden’s four-for-four performance at the plate
“We started off really well hitting the ball and playing defense,” Ledlow said. “Pitching was also really good. It all came to a sudden stop in the fifth inning. We took it as a learning experience.”
Clifton went on to lose four of six games in the Glen Rose Tournament, opening with a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to host Class 4A Glen Rose before suffering shutout losses to Class 4A Midlothian Heritage, 10-0, Thursday and Class 4A Venus, 7-0, Friday, then dropping a 7-4 decision to Class 4A Alvarado Saturday morning.
On the bright side, the Lady Cubs crushed Dublin, 21-0, Friday morning, and wrapped up the tournament with an 8-2 victory over Peaster Saturday.
In the offensive onslaught against Dublin, Bearden collected eight RBIs with two home runs while Ledbetter knocked in five runs, and Audrey Anderson hit a home run with four RBIs.
Photos courtesy of SANDRA VASQUEZ GAONA
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