AUSTIN, Texas - It may not have been their day at the plate, but the Battlin Billies made history all the same.
Playing in the program's firstUIL Class 4A state semifinal, the Fredericksburg softball team relished their opportunity but couldn't muster a run in a 4-0 loss to Huffman Hargrave.
The Billies fell behind early in the top of the first. With a runner on first, Falcons senior Alli Humphries laid down a bunt, but the ensuing throw to first was high, allowing fellow senior Dez Cardenas to open the scoring. The Billies recovered quickly and stranded Humphries on third to escape with minimal damage.
“We were a little jittery in the beginning," said Fredericksburg senior shortstop Mia Torres. "We made a mistake, and it kinda spiraled downwards from there, but we settled in, and I think we finished stronger than we started, which is always a positive.”
Huffman scored two runs in the bottom of the third, one on a wild pitch, the other on an RBI single from pitcher Katy Janes. Fredericksburg showed they belonged, turning a pair of double plays to limit Huffman's offense to just four runs on six hits, but Janes held the Billies lineup in check. The Falcons junior struck out 15 batters in a two-hit complete game shutout.
“She was by far the best pitcher we’ve seen this year," Torres said. "Her ball moved very well in and out, up and down.”
“She had a great performance," explained head coach Melissa Hall. "We swung at her rise ball all day, and she kept throwing it to us. We needed to make better adjustments at the plate, but having only one game, it’s hard to make those in-game adjustments, and we didn’t make them quick enough.”
It's a tough loss on the biggest stage, but considering where the program has been in recent years, this senior class will graciously bow out, having delivered the program's best playoff showing.
“My freshman and sophomore year, we actually got knocked out in the first round," Torres said. "This year, we made it to the state tournament, which is crazy and awesome. I’m just blessed we could get here. In the stands, you could look up and see the entire community. You see a bunch of little girls. One of our main goals was to inspire the little kids that are looking up towards us, and I think we accomplished that goal.”
“The seniors mean a lot to me," Hall said. "I came in last year as a new coach, and they welcomed me. They bought into what I tried to do with them. It shows that it worked. We ended up here, and I couldn’t be happier for our seniors to end their career here in Austin.”
Six seniors are graduating, leaving the remaining 11 returners to carry on their legacy, and this experience will only make them stronger in the years to come.
“We’re a young team," Hall explained. "We are graduating a lot, but a lot of our main players are young. We now know what it’s like to be in Austin and what to expect when we come back. I think the expectations are always going to be high from here on out.”
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