United HC

Lions finish preseason with heavy bats, swift feet

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After scoring a 12-11 victory over Austin Travis on March 1, the Varsity Lions ran with their momentum, claiming first place in the Manor Invitational March 3 – 5.

The Lions capitalized on the offensive hot streak begun on Tuesday, and carried it through the weekend. They bested the LBJ Jaguars 15-8 to lead off tournament play on Thursday.

Game Two against Lanier on Frida

y was much closer contest, as the Vikings were able to stage a late game rally. Lanier plated four runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the Lions were able to hold them off for an 8-7 win.

On Saturday, the Lions squared off with Leander Rouse, and jumped off to an early lead, plating eight runs in the second inning alone – more than enough, as it turned out, as the Lions sailed to an easy 10-5 victory.

The final game of the tournament was against the hosting Manor Mustangs. Lockhart took control of the game early and never let up as they finished with 17-2 exclamation mark on the tournament.

Outfielder Damian Natal and catcher Brandon Martinez were named to the All-Tournament team. Natal finished the tournament with an .818 batting average, going 9-11, and scoring seven runs. Martinez, who caught all four games, had a .600 batting average (9-15, with seven RBIs).

Steven Lillian, JD Pardo, John Madrigal, and Will Clark all deserve recognition for their strong pitching performances, Coach Gene Salazar said.

“We are off to a good start thus far, but as a team we know that the road gets tougher,” he said. “The kids have shown focus, confidence and the will to get better. “We are excited about the upcoming district schedule and hope to see the community come out and catch a ballgame.”

After their dominant week in tournament play, the Lions began district play last week, with the Varsity Lions opening against Alamo Heights at home on March 8.

The Mules jumped out to a 6-0 lead as the Lions’ bats struggled early. Still, pitcher Steven Lillian settled in and held the Mules scoreless from the fourth through the sixth innings, while Lockhart, just as they have all season, began to rally, until it was a 6-3 ballgame going into the seventh.

Unfortunately, Alamo Heights was able to score three more insurance runs in the top of the seventh, securing a 9-4 victory for the Mules.

Lockhart looked to rebound in the Austin ISD Tournament over the weekend, and they did exactly that. The Lions defeated Pleasanton (10-7), Austin Reagan (28-1) and Austin Eastside (24-1) before falling to Pflugerville Hendrickson (9-2).

Just as in the Manor Tournament, the Lions pitching staff had a solid performance all around, particularly from a couple of new arms seeing action for the first time. Damian Natal and John-Michael Mendez both earned wins in their first appearances of the season.

The Lockhart bats excelled as well, led by outfielder Logan Zimmerhanzel and infielder Jacob Alvarez. Zimmerhanzel went 11-13 in the tournament with 13 runs scored, 10 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Alvarez went 7-11 with nine runs and seven stolen bases. Both were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Lions started the week at 11-3 on the season, poised to take on Schertz Clemens in the second district game of the season on Tuesday, March 15. The Lions have a bye on Friday, March 18, and will return to action after Spring Break when they host the Hays Rebels on Tuesday, March 22.

(Courtesy of Chris Knox)

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