The Highlanders’ baseball team acted the gracious guests Thursday, letting Vernon College score first in both games of their doubleheader. Unfortunately for the Chaparrals, McLennan Community College weren’t the perfect guests, because MCC took came from behind in both games to sweep the two away games. The final scores were 8-3 in the first game and 10-5 in the second.
With Alex DeLeon on the mound for the visitors, Vernon took a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning. That was all the Chaparrals managed as DeLeon settled down and blanked them the rest of the way. McLennan scored their eight runs over the next five innings, culminating with a three run sixth inning.
Jalen Battles (1-4, HR, RBI) and Jordan Yeatts (2-3, HR, 2 RBIs) led the Highlanders’ attack, with Brett Squires and Vince Ippoliti adding a double each. DeLeon got the win.
The second game was similar to the first. Vernon jumped on Jase Embry at the first for four runs in the bottom of the inning. Vernon only scored one more run, that in the bottom of the eighth.
Meanwhile, the Highlanders couldn’t seem to get untracked until the fifth inning. They erupted for six runs in the top of the fifth, highlighted by a Squires triple with the bases loaded and a Yeatts double to send Squires home.
“I’m glad we came back,” said MCC head coach Mitch Thompson. “I’m glad we ended up winning the ballgames. It is a doubleheader sweep on the road so you’ve got to say nice job on that but at the same time we are playing against a standard rather than just an opponent. We are trying to be good. We are trying to win games and play at a high, high level of play. Today, I just didn’t feel that our level of play was at a high level, a championship level.”
With the win, MCC goes to 19-7, and 5-1 in conference play. They host Vernon at the Bosque River Ballpark on Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.
Softball splits Vernon doubleheader
The goal of every doubleheader is to come away with two wins. Failing that, the next best thing is to split the games. The McLennan Community College and Vernon College softball teams did the next best thing Thursday at the Bosque River Ballpark. MCC won the first game, 3-0, while the Lady Chaparrals won the second game, 3-2.
The first game was a pitchers’ duel until the sixth inning. Pitcher of the Week Emily Klanika took the mound for the Highlassies (15-8, 6-1 conference), and allowed one hit while striking out 11 batters. Nichole Pinney held MCC scoreless until then.
In the bottom of the sixth, Kaitlin Richards singled for the Highlassies. Destiny Sanchez took Richards’ place as a pinch runner. Sophie Wideman got on base after being hit by a pitch. MCC loaded the bases when Emeri Eubanks bunted for a single. Sanchez and Wideman scored when Arianna Perales hit a single, and Eubanks scored on a fielder’s choice by Lindy Alexander.
The second game also saw low scoring. Jade Guzman entered the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Chaparrals, while Carla Torres pitched for MCC.
Vernon took the early lead in the third inning. The Highlassies fought back, though, with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Olivia Lantigua hit a single for the home team, and again Sanchez was brought in as a pinch runner, who then stole second and third bases. Eubanks reached base on an error, scoring Sanchez.
The Highlassies took the lead the nextinning with an Alexander home run.
Vernon responded with two runs in the top of the seventh, and when MCC was unable to score in their part of the inning, Vernon had the win.
McLennan Community will travel to Ranger on Monday for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.
Rankings and honors
McLennan Community College’s baseball team moved up in the rankings this week. Perfect Game JUCO Top 25 has the Highlanders ranked as the No. 5 team, while NJCAA Division I Baseball places them at No. 8. Along with MCC, the NJCAA poll ranks conference opponents Cisco at No. 15 and Grayson Community at No. 20.
In addition, several individual ball players were given weekly honors for March 3-9. Jase Embry, a sophomore from Axtell, was named Pitcher of the Week for allowing only one hit and seven strikeouts in five innings against No. 11 Weatherford.
Garrett Martin, a third baseman and designated hitter freshman, was named Position Player of the Week. He hit .583 in four games, including a double, a triple and a home run. He also had six RBIs, scored five runs and had five walks.
On the softball field, Emily Klanika was named North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week. Klanika is a right hander from Pflugerville. Last week, she allowed four earned runs on 13 hits with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings over two games. She also only allowed four walks.
The Highlander basketball season came to an end with a disappointing loss to Odessa College on March 7, 64-55. MCC battled for most of the game, but were unable to overcome a Wranglers’ run toward the middle of the first half. Xavier Armstead was named to the men’s All-Regional basketball team. Armstead and Dayante McClellan were both named to the NTJCAC Men’s All-Conference team, with Amiri Waddell gaining honorable mention. The team ended their season at 22-9, 8-6 conference play.
On the women’s side, KeeKee Nowlin was named to the NTJCAC Women’s All-Conference team. Receiving honorable mention were Anastacia Mickens, Annya Moss and Ny’Asia Goldman. The Highlassies completed a 13-16, 4-12 conference season.
The women’s teams travelled to McAllen to compete in the UTRGV Invitational. After shooting a three-round total of 334-323-343—1,000, the HIghlassies finished in 13th place. Sam Houston State won the competition with a 291-299-301—891. MCC finished ahead of Chicago State (1,003), and Prairie View A&M (1,037). The women will play at the HBU Husky Invitational at Riverbend Country Club in Sugarland on Mar. 18-19.
The men’s team finished sixth at the Midland College Green Tree Invitational March 4-5. The team shot 279-290—569, 47 strokes behind winner Midland College (268-274—542). The Highlanders are scheduled to compete next at the NMJC Thunderbird Invitational in Hobbs, New Mexico.