AUSTIN – Last year, the D’Hanis softball team missed out on an opportunity to defend their 2019 UIL Class A state title because of the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, they are now one win away from doing just that.
In the program’s return to Austin, junior pitcher Marissa Santos dominated in the circle, only allowed 3 hits all game, and the Cowgirls’ bats came alive for a big third inning, as D’Hanis defeated Gail Borden County 4-1 to punch their tickets to the state championship game.
The Lady Coyotes struck first in the bottom of the first as a result of some D’Hanis throwing errors. After that rough stretch, Santos helped calm her teammates down by carrying a no-hitter into the fourth inning. Her previous experience pitching in big games at Red & Charline McCombs Field was an big boon.
“We turned around and talked to each other whenever we could,” Santos explained. “Both teams always get momentum built up at times, and the job is just to break that momentum, don’t allow them to get going. You’ve got to just keep your nerves down. It’s just another game. It’s just louder.”
.@DHanisAthletics head softball coach Jose Martinez was hit in the eye with a foul ball during today's #UILState semifinal - it didn't stop him or the Cowgirls from advancing back to the state championship game with a chance to defend their 2019 title #KSATsports @InstantReplaySA pic.twitter.com/byv1Yr6mEo— Andrew Cely (@ACelySports) June 1, 2021
Santos was part of the Cowgirls’ third inning rally. Both she and Mabry Herrmann came up with clutch hits, and Reece Redden added a sacrifice fly to stake D’Hanis out to a 3-1 lead. From there, defense and timely pitching carried the Cowgirls the rest of the way.
“We’re still not done, but to be here at this moment after everything that these kids and this community has been through is awesome,” head coach Jose Martinez said. “We’re excited for tomorrow.”
D’Hanis will face Dodd City tomorrow in the UIL Class A State championship game. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.