After a five-game losing streak in the Gulf South Conference (GSC), the Lady Flames bounced back in a three-game softball series against a major challenger: 14th ranked conference foe, West Florida.
Last season, despite their best efforts, West Florida prevailed in all five games against the team, ultimately knocking them out of the running for the National Championship. However, this weekend broke the trend as the Lady Flames procured a two-for-three victory.
The first game featured strong hitting from both teams. Taylor Moran and Brooklynn Frazier led the Lady Flames as they cranked out a hit with each at-bat.
Lee came out hot with a run in the first inning, but the Argonauts retaliated in the third with an RBI and a homer that boosted their total to four runs. The Lady Flames followed their lead, though, in the bottom of the inning as Frazier brought in a run and Moran smashed her 11th homer of the season, leveling the score.
The fourth inning bore an additional four runs for Lee. The Lady Flames sent two big flies over the wall to secure an opening series win. Reflecting on the team’s success, Moran explained how crucial this win was moving into the series.
“Every single time we played them last year, we would play a really good game, but they would always find a way to beat us in the end,” Moran said. “This year, it was just really important to get the first win.”
Sunday’s first game started off a bit rocky for the Lady Flames as West Florida put up three runs in the first two innings. Lee managed to score once in the bottom of the second, but the Argonauts cut their momentum short and led into a scoreless third inning.
The top of the fourth shook both teams up as West Florida’s runner Mika Garcia collided with second baseman Zoe Miller. The game was suspended as Garcia was taken from the field in an ambulance to be treated for a concussion.
As the game resumed, Lee scored a single run in the bottom of the inning. West Florida recovered by the sixth, however, and attained three runs for a 6-2 win. Moran revealed that the team struggled to focus on the game following the injury on the field.
“I feel like we were playing a little bit timid,” Moran said. “I think we were all a little worried for the girl, and I think it kind of threw everybody off their game.”
Assistant coach Rachel Polacek explained that the team needed to “flush what happened” and treat the next game as a fresh start.
Echoing this mentality, assistant coach Ian Raymond added that the goal for the third game would be concentrating on the offensive side.
“Basically, we’re just going to go into this next game looking for quality at-bats,” Raymond said. “The big thing will be timely hits because, in the second game, we left a lot of people stranded.”
The Lady Flames successfully reestablished their focus as they stepped onto the field for their final game against West Florida. Coach Russell’s team put up eight runs in the first four innings while managing to hold the visiting Argonauts at zero.
West Florida squeezed in a run in the fifth, but the score remained unchanged at 8-1 until the end of the game, resulting in a series win for Lee. Moran commented on the significance of this win.
“This is probably our biggest rival in softball,” Moran said. “It was just really important to come out and play hard—play our game.”
Not only was the win remarkable because of the team’s rivalry with West Florida, but through this series finale, head coach Emily Russell also secured her 600th win, establishing a 600-287-1 record since the start of her coaching career in 2002.
The Lady Flames now hold an 8-15 GSC record and will continue conference play on March 14 against Delta State.