Ali Galaz’s First-Inning Grand Slam Powers Mineola Past La Grange + Into 3A State Title Game
AUSTIN -- Mineola is on the doorstep of its first-ever state softball championship. And senior outfielder Ali Galaz is a big reason why.
Galaz's first-inning grand slam set the tone in the Lady Jackets' 7-1 win over La Grange in their Class 3A semifinal Thursday afternoon at Red & Charline McCombs Field.
Mineola (31-8), eliminated in the 2A semifinals a season ago, will face defending state 3A champion Lufkin Hudson (37-7-1) at 10 a.m. Saturday for the title.
“It’s awesome," said Galaz, who finished 3-for-4 with five RBIs on Thursday after belting two homers with seven RBIs in the Mineola's regional final-series clinching over Van last week.
"I think I’m just feeling the whole atmosphere; we have some awesome fans and I feed off of that. They really mean the world to me because all my family is half of them up there. I feel like I have to do this for them, and we owe it to them. We didn’t do it last year.”
Galaz, who has signed with Texas Woman's University, appears to making up for lost time after battling back from an injury that kept her out of action for most of district.
“I feel like I was out too long, and I’ve been injured before," Galaz said. "And so I didn’t want to rush (my return), I had to wait. And when I’m ready to come in, I have to come in at full speed and come in swinging.”
Manda Wilmoth went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs to aid in Mineola's 12-hit performance. Britney Johnson, Rikkilyn Hass and Morgan Catron all had two hits.
Hass improved her pitching record to 30-8. She allowed just one run, despite being called for several illegal pitches during the course of her complete-game effort.
“(They said) she was jumping," said Mineola coach Jana Nance of the umpires' calls. "I would give her one (illegal pitch) in the last three years, she never had one problem this whole year.”
Hass took it all in stride, working through heavy traffic on the basepaths all game long.
“I’ve never really had a problem with that my whole life, so it kind of made me wish if I had been doing this, somebody would’ve told me so it wouldn’t (happen) at a state game," Hass said. "Much like anything, I try not to let anything bother me and because it’s just something I do.”
Hass singled to right with one out in the top of the first, and moved to second on Catron's two-out infield single. Jade "Sister" Green then worked a nine-pitch walk to set the stage for Galaz, who jerked La Grange pitcher Abby Morgan's 1-2 offering over the left-field fence for a quick 4-0 lead.
“That was pretty sweet, I don’t even know what else to say about that," Nance said of Galaz's grand slam. "She’s just been a very big part of our hitting. When we get hitters on, she knows what she’s supposed to do. She knows what her job is and she does her job.”
La Grange (38-4) pulled to within three runs on Riley Fisbeck's RBI single in the fourth. The Lady Leopards then loaded the bases with one out for Alyssa Angel, who lined out to shortstop Johnson, who completed the inning-ending double play by firing to third for the force out.
“That was a very big out for us," Nance said of the double play. "(Johnson's) a great shortstop, she knows the game and she knows where her spot is and what she’s supposed to do. That just shows how much heart we have, to keep going.”
Mineola built a 6-1 lead with two runs in the fifth on Galaz's RBI double and a run-scoring single from Wilmoth, who doubled in the Lady Jackets' final run in the seventh.
Madison Becka led La Grange at the plate, going 2-for-3 on the afternoon. Morgan (18-1) suffered her first loss of the season after allowing six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Mineola 7, La Grange 1
Class 3A Semifinal
Red & Charline McCombs Field, Austin
Mineola 400 020 1 -- 7 12 1
La Grange 000 100 0 -- 1 7 0
Mineola: Rikkilyn Hass and Morgan Catron. La Grange: Abby Morgan, Ariel Svec (5) and Madison Becka.
WP -- Hass (30-8).
LP -- Morgan (18-1).
2B -- Mineola: Catron, Ali Galaz, Manda Wilmoth.
HR -- Mineola: Galaz (first inning, three on).
Records -- Mineola: 31-8. La Grange: 38-4.
Attendance -- 1,254.