A recent pair of South Central Association home games went different directions for the Houston High School softball team.

The Lady Tigers fell 7-2 to Ava last Thursday, but then downed Willow Springs 15-5 on Monday of this week.

Houston jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning in the run-rule shortened contest against Willow Springs, and held a commanding 8-1 advantage after 2 innings.

The Lady Tigers scored 6 more runs in the fourth, and then put the game away with a walk-off RBI double by sophomore Rhease Manier with no outs in the bottom of the sixth.

Houston banged out 13 hits in the game, with senior third baseman Mali Brookshire going 3-for-4 at the plate, with 2 doubles, 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored.

Junior Aliyah Walker went the distance in the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Tigers, allowing 6 hits and 3 earned runs, while striking out 4 and walking 2.

Houston sophomore Rhease Manier slaps hands with teammate Aliyah Walker (8) after hitting a walk-off double in the sixth inning of the Lady Tigers’ win over Willow Springs in an SCA game Monday at Carter Field.

With the score at 9-4 and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, junior second baseman Madi Reed delivered a 3-run double to put Houston up 12-4.

In the loss to Ava, Walker was again in the pitcher’s circle for Houston, and struck out 7 of the first 9 batters she faced, fanning the side in both the second and third innings.

She also scored the game’s first run by leading off the bottom of the first inning with a double, taking third on a sacrifice bunt by Karlee Curtis and then coming home on a single to center by senior shortstop Hannah Dzurick.

HHS junior Mackenzie Bryan takes a high pitch during the Lady Tigers’ loss to Ava last Thursday at Carter Field in Houston.

But Ava took control of the contest with a rally in the top of the fourth frame, loading the bases with no outs on a walk, a single and a hit batter, and then taking a 2-1 lead on a long single off the right field fence by Keeley Akers. The Lady Bears extended the advantage to 4-1 on RBI base hits by P. Henry and Sara Mendel.

Ava added 3 more runs in the fifth inning. The Lady Bears got 2 runners on with a double and a single, and led 7-1 after Julia Henry crushed a 3-run home run over the fence in dead-center field.

Houston got the game’s final run in the bottom of the sixth frame on a solo homer by Dzurick.

The Lady Tigers out-hit Ava 8 to 6 in the contest, with Dzurick going 4-for-4 with 2 RBIs and a run scored.

Walker also had a multi-hit outing, going 2-for-4. She also pitched a complete game, giving up 6 earned runs on 6 hits, while striking out 9 and issuing 2 walks.

Henry went the distance for Ava, fanning 4 and walking 1.

The Lady Tigers (9-4, 3-1 SCA) have two more conference contests scheduled for this week: A home game against Salem on Thursday and a road game Friday at Thayer.

To view photo galleries from the Lady Tigers’ games against Ava and Willow Springs (with the option to purchase photos), go online to houstonherald.smugmug.com.

As her teammates run to home plate to greet her, HHS senior Hannah Dzurick slaps five with head coach Jim Moore after hitting a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning during the Lady Tigers’ loss to Ava last Thursday at Carter Field in Houston.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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