AUSTIN - Dreams are had and movies made about what Meagan Chumchal actually did.
The Shiner freshman, up to bat in the seventh inning with two runners on and the Lady Comanches trailing 8-6, stepped to the plate, swung at the first pitch offered and drilled it into the left-centerfield trees for a three-run home run to send her team to the Class 1A state tournament with a 9-8 regional final win over Mart on Saturday at Leander ISD's Vandegrift High School.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Chumchal said. "I knew that she (Mart pitcher Lexxi Davenport) was going to throw it straight down the pipe to me. I just took a good swing at it. It felt like a good hit and I knew the wind was going out so I was hoping it was gone. I still can't stop shaking."
The win, coupled with Thursday's 12-7 victory over the Lady Panthers, sends Shiner to its first state tournament since 2008. It eliminates a Mart team which knocked the Lady Comanches out of the playoffs last season. Shiner will be appearing in its sixth state tournament since 2001 (2011, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2002, 2001).
Its senior class, which includes Ashley Shimek who improved her pitching record to 22-0 with the win, were freshmen in 2008 when they claimed the state title with an 11-0 win over Bosqueville.
"It's insane to go back there," said Shimek, who survived 14 hits and two walks against a Mart team playing for its season by trying to force a Game 3 of the series. "I really don't know if I could have pitched another game right after this one. They really took the pressure off of me by scoring runs. I'm so thankful for all of them stepping up."
Chumchal's walk-off home run is all she or her family needs to tell anyone about the game, but she also led the team with five RBI on two doubles and the home run. Amber Ramirez, a senior who has signed to run track at Texas A&M-Kingsville, added two hits and two RBI to the Shiner stat sheet while Kristin Schacherl produced three singles.
"It's been the norm for us lately to respond to any position we are in with different players stepping up," said Shiner head coach Brandon Siegel, whose team improved to 30-4 with the victory. "They continue to keep battling and believing in themselves no matter where we are in the game or the pressure that is on them. Their work ethic in practice where they demand the best out of themselves at all times is why they keep pulling these games out."
Mart (26-8) and Shiner, who both chose to wear purple jerseys and white pants, also mirrored each other throughout the game on the scoreboard.
The Lady Panthers, who were state semifinalist last year, started the game's scoring by putting five runs on the board in the fourth inning. Shimek struggled in the heat, allowing three singles to start the inning before Davenport delivered a single to score Mart's first run.
Selina Franklin added a two-RBI double and Raven Summers an RBI single as the Lady Panthers took a 5-0 lead.
Shiner would match its opponent from the greater Waco-area in the home-half of the inning though. Julianna Rankin led off with a double, Jordan Pietsch singled and Chumchal hit a two-run double to score Rankin and Pietsch. Trailing 5-2 with no outs, Stacey Perez singled and would score on a double off the bat of Ramirez.
A ground out Ryah Michalec scored Ramirez to take the game back to even at 5-5.
Mart added one in the fifth and two in the sixth, but were unable to produce anything in the seventh.
For the series, the Lady Comanches outscored the Lady Panthers 8-0 in the last inning of the two games played.
Shiner went quietly in order in the fifth, scored one run on a Ramirez RBI single in the sixth and set up Chumchal's seventh-inning dramatics by taking advantage of two Mart errors to put Rankin and Pietsch on base to watch the softball fly over the fence and be greeted by screaming teammates at home plate.
Shiner will play the winner of the Region II final between Itasca and Lindsay in a state semifinal on Thursday morning at the University of Texas' McCombs field.
"It seems like a long time since we were in the state tournament but we've all been working hard to get back there," said Shimek, who was a pinch runner in Shiner's state championship win back in 2008. "Hopefully we'll win it all again."
Class 1A Regional Final Game 2 Shiner 9, Mart 8 Mart 000 512 0- 8 14 3 Shiner 000 501 3- 9 14 0 WP: Ashley Shimek (22-0). LP: Lexxi Davenport (21-8). Shiner Highlights: Meagan Chumchal 3-for-4, 5 RBI, game-winning home run; Amber Ramirez 3-for-4, 2 RBI; Stacey Perez 2-for-3, RBI, Ryah Michalec RBI; Shimek 7IP, 5K. Mart Highlights: Selina Franklin 3-for-4, 2 RBI; Davenport 2-for-4, 2 RBI; Jessica Williams 2 RBI. Records: Mart 21-8. Shiner 30-4. Shiner advances to Class 1A State Softball Tournament.