AUSTIN - Catchers are often overlooked, but that wasn't a problem for Shiner senior Holly Haas on Thursday.
Shiner catcher Holly Haas is greeted by her teammates from the dugout after crossing home plate for a home run that scored three runs in the third inning of Thursday morning's Class 1A State semifinal game against Lindsay High School in Austin. The Comanches defeated the Lady Knights 16-4 in five innings. photo by Angeli Wright, Victoria Advocate
The often pinch run for Haas provided the highlight of the game when she turned a routine single up the middle into a scoring play in top-ranked Shiners 16-4 Class 1A Semifinal rout of No.8 Lindsay at Red and Charline McCombs Field.
"I just saw my coach at third telling me to keep going so I figured it had to go past her," Haas said. "The only thing I kept thinking was to keep running hard until my coach tells me to stop."
The game was called after Lindsay batted in the top of the fifth due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The Lady Comanches have won 20 straight games and are one win away from winning a Class 1A state championship. It's Shiner's ninth state tournament appearance in the last 15 years.
Ashley Shimek allowed just four hits and three earned runs while picking up her 23rd win of the season and keeping her record perfect on the season.
Haas gained experience catching as a freshman during the 2008 Shiner state title run and could put championship bookends on her high school career.
"It's good for her to have the success," said Shiner coach Brandon Siegel.
Haas came up with two on and two out in the bottom of the third and the play exemplified just what kind of a day it was for Shiner.
The routine singled got past Lindsay center fielder Erin Copeland the fence 220 feet from home plate.
Haas made it all the way to third appeared to be caught between third and home, but Lindsay third baseman Bethani Eberhart couldn't handle catcher Alyx Ethington's throw and Haas scored.
Haas' scoring play made it 12-3 Shiner and she returned to the dugout to some good- natured ribbing from her teammates.
"I was just laughing the whole time," Shimek said. "Holly's not the fastest runner on our team and just seeing that was awesome for us. It was the highlight of the game."
Added Haas: "They told me there was no oxygen tank in here."
Shiner took advantage of seven Lindsay errors and batted around twice in the semifinal. Haas was a perfect 4-for-4 with 6 RBIs.
After a couple of months of playing mostly night district and afternoon playoff games Shiner had to adjust to an 8:30 a.m. start for the game.
To get the team used to the start, Siegel had them practice at the same time since Monday and it showed as the Lady Comanches made quick work of the eight ranked team in the latest Texas Association of Girls Coaches poll.
Shiner took advantage of Lindsay miscues and put the Lady Knights in a nine-run hole through two innings.
"It was a little tough, but the only way you're going to get used to it is if you do it everyday," Haas said. "It wasn't that bad."
Shimek's very first at-bat of the game was an indication of how things would go for Lindsay starter Taylor Atkins.
With the count full Atkins threw an illegal pitch to put Shimek on base.
Atkins threw four more illegal pitches, two of which brought in runs, in her one-and- a-third innings of work.
Siegel said Atkins was called for "crow hopping," which is a hop or step off the rubber with the pivot foot.
After Amber Ramirez reached on an infield bunt, Kristen Scharcherl brought in the first Shiner run with a groundout and the Lady Comanches second run scored on Atkins' second illegal pitch call of the first inning.
Taking advantage of Lindsay mistakes was key, especially with a struggling pitcher.
"As a hitter you want to be patient and wait for her pitch because you know she's not on top of her game," Haas said.
Added Siegel: "Those that makes the fewest mistakes is what it boils down to at this point of the game,"
Shimek started the game in the circle strong, retiring six of the first seven Lady Knights she faced including striking out the side in the top of the second inning.
With the bases loaded Shimek hit an RBI double to make it 4-0 Shiner.
Atkins' fifth illegal pitch was responsible for the fifth Lady Comanche run of the game and Ranee Morrison came in to pitch long relief for the Lady Knights after they fell behind by five runs.
Although Haas had the best game, it was a balanced Lady Comanche offensive performance as every Shiner batter got a hit against Lindsay and only one batter didn't score a run.
Shiner's only hiccup occurred in the top of the third when Lindsay scored three runs on three hits to cut the Lady Comanche lead to 9-3.
The Lady Comanches will play either Grapeland or Albany for the state title on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Shimek will go for her 24th and biggest win of the season.
"If it isn't broke don't fix it," Siegel said. "We're going with what we've got and keep going with it."
Class 1A State SemiFinal Shiner 16, Lindsay 4 R H E Lindsay HS....003 01 - 4 4 7 Shiner HS.....274 3X - 16 14 2 Game Highlights: WP: Ashley Shimek (23-0); LP: Taylor Atkins (25-9). Shiner Highlights: Shimek, 5 IP, 8 k; 1-for-2, 2 RBIs, 3 RS; Amber Ramirez, 1-for-3, 2 RS; Kristin Schacherl, 2-for-3, 2 RBIs, 2 RS; Ryah Michalec, 1-for-3, 2 RS; Holly Haas, 4-for-4, 6 RBIs, RS; Julianna Rankin, 2-for-4, 2 RBIs; Jordan Pietsch, 1-for-2, RBI, RS. Records: Shiner 31-4; Lindsay 31-12. Shiner will play Grapeland (SemiFinal winner over Albany) in the State Championship Game Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Official UIL Box Score