The Shiner Comanches made a strong statement in the opening game of the UIL State Softball Tournament in Austin Thursday morning, pounding Region 2 champion Lindsay 16-4 in five innings.
Shiner catcher Holly Haas sends a pitch into center field for a hit in the second inning of the Class 1A state softball semi-finals Thursday. Haas scored on the play as the Comanches cruised to a 16-4 win over Lindsay to advance to Saturdayís state title game. photo by Jeremy Weber, special to the Gonzales Inquirer
With the win, Shiner advances to the state title game, where they will face Grapeland, winners over Albany.
While several illegal pitch calls against Lindsay starting pitcher Morrison Ranee helped Shiner put runs on the board throughout the first innings of the contest, the Comanche bats were far from silent as the team belted out 14 hits in the win.
No Shiner bat was heard from more in the contest than the one in the hands of Comanche catcher Holly Haas, who finished the game 4-4 at the plate with five RBIs.
The catcherís biggest moment came in the bottom of the third inning as she launched the ball deep into center field bringing home Lauren Oden and Ashley Shimek before crossing the plate herself on the play as Linsday struggled to field the ball.
"I just saw the ball rolling around out there and kept running until the coach told me stop," Haas said about the hit.
Kristin Schacherl added a pair of hits and RBI in the win, as did Jordan Pietsch.
Shimek finished the contest with one hit and two RBIs and also picked up the win in the pitching circle for the Comanches, improving her season record to 23-0.
With a win Saturday, Shimek could become the first player in Shiner history to close out a softball season with a state title and a perfect win/loss record.
Not a bad accomplishment for a player who only became a starting pitcher at the beginning of this, her senior season.
"After three years at shortstop, Ashley has found a home for herself in the circle this year," head coach Brandon Siegel said. "She took the move totally in stride and hasnít looked back."
As for Shimek, she admits that this is a role she never expected to play.
"I am so excited," she admitted after the game. "I never thought I would be on the mound pitching in a state game. Itís almost unreal to me. Itís insane and almost unbelievable."
Shimek looked good in the opening innings against Lindsay Thursday as she allowed no runs through the first two innings of the game. The Comanches, on the other hand, wasted no time grabbing a quick lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the opening inning, one of which came after an illegal pitch call with Amber Ramirez on third.
According to Haas, the numerous illegal pitch calls against Lindsay really helped Shiner build early confidence at the plate.
"When something like that occurs in a game, you have to take advantage of it," Haas said. "Itís going to make her struggle and make her (the opposing pitcher) even more frustrated."
It was all Shiner in the bottom of the second inning as Pietsch, Perez, Shimek, Schacherl, Ryah Michalek, Haas and Rankin all picked up hits as the Comanches added seven runs to take a commanding 9-0 lead into the third.
Lindsay answered with three runs in the top of the third and looked as if they would make the game even closer, but Elizabeth Zwinggi flew out to end the inning with a pair of Lady Knights left on base.
It was all Shiner from there as the Comanches added four runs in the third and three more in the fourth to cruise to the win.
With the victory, the Comanches advance to yet another state title game, where they will have a chance to earn their fourth state title in the past 11 years.
While the Comanches may have been dominant Thursday, they players know that the state title game will not be easy.
"Itís anybodyís game Saturday," Haas admitted. "We just have to come out on top of out game and keep playing the way that we have been playing. We have to play with the same intensity that we did today. Itís a new ballgame and anyone can win it."
The UIL Class 1A softball state title game is set for 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning at McCombs Field on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.