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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

STATE SPECIAL

The Fayette County Record

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The members of the La Grange softball team were all smiles as they posed on the field before Thursday’s state semifinal game, but the smiles didn’t last for long against Mineola, which beat the Lady Leps 7-1. Photo by Tom Wood

Memorable Season Etched in Bronze La Grange Softball Team Falls to Mineola in State Semifinals to End Magical Season

By JEFF WICK

The Fayette County Record

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USTIN – The journey to get to state took so long. But the stay was so short. The La Grange softball team, making its first appearance in the state tournament since 2005, fell behind thanks to a first inning grand slam by Mineola’s Ali Galaz and never recovered in a 7-1 semifinal loss to the Lady Jackets. The loss ends one of the best Lady Leps softball seasons ever. The La Grange girls went 38-4 overall, won 27 games in a row at one point, grabbed their third consecutive district title and sat atop the state rankings for most of the year. “They are sad today but they’ll remember this season fondly,” said La Grange head coach Art Behrend. “I’m so proud of these girls. We came a long way,” said La Grange senior designated hitter Mad-

ison Knesek. “It’s been an amazing experience. I just wish we could be playing Saturday.” Instead it was Mineola that advanced to Saturday’s state tile game where they lost to Lufkin Hudson 12-9. That was Hudson’s second consecutive state title. The Lady Leps, meanwhile, drove back to La Grange where their four seniors (Knesek, Breanna Homer, Rebecca Proske and Madison Oltmann) graduated Thursday night. Talk about an emotional day in so many respects. The joy of graduation may have served to lessen the pain of that one final lesson learned at the hands of Mineola. Only twice all year, and not since February, had the Lady Leps failed to score less than two runs in a game. But somehow Mineola’s little junior pitcher See Lady Leps, next page

La Grange principal Bryan Hallmark and athletic director Matt Kates hand out the state bronze medals to the Lady Leps after Thursday’s loss. Photo by Jeff Wick

The Lady Leps drew a huge crowd, above, for the state semifinal game, helped when LGISD ended the last day of school early so more students, teachers and fans could attend the noon game. In fact, all the seats on the Lady Leps’ side of the stadium were filled, so La Grange fans either had to stand or sit near Mineola supporters. In this photo, La Grange’s Madison Becka connects for a fourth inning single that helped lead to La Grange’s only run of the day. Photo by Jeff Wick


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The Fayette County Record, Tuesday, June 4, 2013

La Grange’s Brianna Ahlschlager slides in safely to second base Thursday just ahead of the throw to Mineola’s Britney Johnson. Photo by Jeff Wick

Lady Leps Did Have Their Chances, But Couldn’t Capitalize Continued from front Rikkilyn Hass, confounded a La Grange lineup that came into the game averaging 10 runs a contest. Hass certainly wasn’t overpowering. She allowed seven hits, walked three, had just two strikeouts and was called for four illegal pitches. But she made the big pitches when she needed to most. The Lady Leps left 10 runners on base Thursday. “We just didn’t bunch enough hits together,” Behrend said. “She hit her spots, and she had a great defense behind her,” said La Grange shortstop Alyssa Angel, who was robbed of hits twice by stellar Mineola plays. “That really hurt us.” Time and again the Lady Yellowjackets displayed noteworthy glovework – from sliding and /or sprinting catches in the outfield to snagging linedrives in the infield. In the fourth inning, down 4-1, La Grange loaded the bases with one out. That’s when Alyssa Angel rocketed one of the hardest hit balls of the day – a liner to shortstop Britney Johnson, who not only caught the ball but doubled off the runner at third. Instead of a big rally, the inning was over. “If that line-drive goes through it’s a one-run ballgame,” Behrend said. Madison Becka, the sophomore La Grange catcher, was one of the few Lady Leps to figure Hass out. Becka was two-for-three. Mineola managed to keep La Grange slugger Breanna Homer from hurting them too much after she rocketed a towering shot to left field in the first that had home run distance but was foul by just a couple of feet. “Bre hit a ball about as hard

as you can, and if that goes out, we’re right back in the game,” Behrend said. Mineola walked Homer twice after that. She also had a single and had another hard-hit liner snagged by the shortstop. La Grange’s offensive struggles kept them from ever overcome that first-inning deficit. Most of the huge La Grange crowd at McCombs Field was just getting settled in for the afternoon when Mineola loaded the bases (on a single, an infield single and a walk) with two outs in the top of the first inning off starting pitcher Abby Morgan. That’s when Galaz, a Texas Women’s University softball recruit, blasted an off-speed pitch over the left field wall. “We knew we had to score first, and we scored first,” said Mineola head coach Jana Nance. “And to do it with two outs, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.” Morgan recovered to keep Mineola mostly in check until the fifth inning when she gave way to reliever Ariel Svec, who pitched the final 2.1 innings, allowing a single run on three hits. But that early lead turned out to be all Mineola needed on this day. “They hit the ball hard and they hit it where we weren’t and that was the difference in the ballgame,” Homer said. “We hit it right to them – a lot. “It just didn’t turn out our way. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

La Grange superstar Breanna Homer had a single and two walks in her final game as a Lady Lep. Photo by Tom Wood

La Grange shortstop Alyssa Angel prepares to throw to first base after fielding a grounder. Photo by Jeff Wick

Lady Lep starting pitcher Abby Morgan fires a pitch to the plate during the state semifinal game. Photo by Tom Wood

5/30/13

Mineola 7, La Grange 1

Mineola 400 020 1 – 7 12 1 La Grange 000 100 0 – 1 7 0 Winning pitcher: Rikkilyn Hass (complete game seven-hitter with 2 Ks and 3 BBs) Losing pitcher: Abby Morgan (4.1 IP, 9 hits, 6 runs, 2 Ks, 1 BB) LG highlights: Ariel Svec (2.1 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 2 Ks) Madison Becka 2 hits; Alyssa Angel 1 hit; Breanna Homer 1 hit, 2 BBs; Kristy Bertsch 1 hit, 1 BB; Brenna Beseda 1 run; Riley Fisbeck 1 hit, 1 RBI; Libby Read 1 hit.

Even on the top row of the stadium, these young Lady Leps fans cheered loudly and held up banners of support. Photo by Jeff Wick

One of La Grange’s tallest players, first baseman Riley Fisbeck, makes the catch of this pop-up Thursday while one of the team’s shorter players, second baseman Rebecca Proske provides a little insurance with her glove in case of trouble. Photo by Tom Wood

Congratulations

Lady Leps

on Your Successful Season! Round Top-Home Office 301 N. Washington 979-249-3151 La Grange 2010 Hwy. 71 West 979-966-0556

From Dr. Lawrence Hatfield, Dr. Kari Brawley & Staff 110 N. Washington • East Side of the Square in La Grange


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