AUSTIN – For the third time in the last four years, D’Hanis will play for the UIL Class 1A State softball championship.
The Cowgirls defeated Dodd City in the state semifinals on Tuesday afternoon 2-0 and earned a modicum of revenge in the process. D’Hanis fell to the Hornets in the state title game last year, 8-4. The two programs have met in each of the last three state tournaments, and the Cowgirls have won two of those three matchups. Now, D’Hanis has a chance to earn the program’s second state title and first since 2019.
“That was the goal: make it to the finals,” senior pitcher Marissa Santos explained. “That’s what we’ve done every single year, and I feel amazing that I get to finish it off there. I thought I was about to pass out before the game started. This could have been it. But being here three times already, it’s not as hard.”
Santos ignited a two-out rally with a base hit in the bottom of the first. Ryan Magers checked in to pinch run and Reece Redden drove her in with a booming RBI double to give the Cowgirls an early 1-0 lead. D’Hanis doubled the lead in the bottom of the fifth, as Kayla Looper capitalized on a bases loaded situation with an RBI single that scored Toni Burrell. Meanwhile, Santos pitched around several difficult situations, including two opportunities in the top of the fourth and fifth where Dodd City had put two runners on base, and finished the game with a staggering 10 strikeouts in a three-hit shutout performance.
“I wish [Santos] was still a freshman,” head coach Jose Martinez said. “It’s been four years, and every time I think there’s nothing else she can do, she goes out and tops it like today.”
The play on the field wasn’t the only thing on the Cowgirls’ minds. D’Hanis players and coaches showed their support for Uvalde in wake of the deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary last week by wearing helmet stickers, ribbons and t-shirts in the community’s honor.
“We want to let them know that we are here for them, and that they are not alone,” Santos said.
“It was actually the girls’ idea,” Martinez explained. “They wanted to do something to represent Uvalde. It’s been a tough time for us. It really has. Some girls know friends and have family down there. They feel for the community.”
D’Hanis (23-7-1) will play Hermleigh (16-6) on Wednesday at 4 p.m. for the UIL Class 1A State title.
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