AUSTIN -- It almost never felt like Hallsville had control. At times, it was downright ugly to watch.

But for 10 minutes Friday withinin a 12-5 loss to Cedar Park Vista Ridge in the Class 5A softball state semifinals, the Ladycats were the team to beat.

"I don't know what it was," head coach Pat Eitel said. "We just didn't have it today. We made just little mistakes and you can't do it. It was kind of sad, they got us on (a late) home run because I felt like it was a lot closer game than it was."

Hallsville catcher Emma Hawthorne (8) receives the ball too late to tag Vista Ridge's Elizabeth Svienty. Svienty gave her team a 1-0 lead with one out in the first inning. (Thao Ngyuen, ETSN.fm)

Hallsville (36-3), the Region II champion, entered the semifinal game at the University of Texas' Red and Charline McCombs Field as a red-hot team. It had won 28 of its previous 29 games.

Vista Ridge (29-2-1) was simply the better squad for six out of the seven innings. The club continued a 30-game unbeaten streak with the victory and advanced to take on Aledo in the title game.

Trailing 5-1 after 4 1/2 innings, however, magic struck a final time for the Ladycats.

Nine-hole hitter Kelsey Ingram spearheaded a four-run, one-out rally in the bottom fifth with a liner right up the middle of Vista Ridge's infield. Julie Ann Rawls followed it up with a double to put both of them in scoring position before Elizabeth Davis fouled out the next at-bat.

But with two outs in the inning, starting pitcher Cassidy Ferrill hit up the middle for a 2 RBI single. Emma Hawthorne and Madison McElroy followed with a base hit and walk, respectively.

Hannah Mizell put an exclamation point on the frame with a 2 RBI looper to shallow right field. It tied the game, 5-5, before Sara Ingram just barely was beat out for a 4-3 fielder's choice as Ferrill crossed the plate as the potential go-ahead run.

"I'm good with it," Eitel said. "I'm not good about losing, but I'm good with how the kids fought. We could have laid down and got beat. But they fought back."

The momentum swing didn't last long.

At the top of the order, Vista Ridge's Elizabeth Svienty reached base on an infield single and Maddey Collins doubled to left field. Jorden Russell's suicide squeeze scored Svienty for the game-winning run.

The inning continued and became even more deflating. Two more runs crossed the plate before Hallsville could get out of the jam.

In total, Vista Ridge answered the Ladycats' batting around the order with eight batters of its own.

Nicole Ochotnicki put the final touches on the game with a grand slam in the seventh, capping a 5 RBI day.

Only one of Hallsville's final seven batters reached base safely.

Russell took the complete game win in the circle for Vista Ridge. She allowed four earned runs on nine hits and struck out six batters.

Ferrill went 5 1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on 14 hits. She struck out two and walked one batter. Hailee Hollan finished the game and was responsible for the four grand slam runs.

Eitel called Vista Ridge the best hitting team the Ladycats faced.

"By far," he said. "They hit a few balls deep, but a lot of them just weren't. That just is a sign of a good hitting team. They just went after it and put it in play. Then their big hitters would come up and they got a couple of big hits."

Cassidy Ferrill played in her final high school game Friday. She put up a 19-2 record as a senior. (Thao Nguyen, ETSN.fm)

Svienty got Vista Ridge in motion on the game's fifth pitch with a double to left field. Maddey Collins followed it up with a single to left field and advanced to second on a throw. Russell grounded out to first, too far for Hallsville to get an out at the plate.

Rawls temporarily stopped the damage with a great catch in center field and throw on a rope to Hawthorne for a tag out at home. But Daryn Haslam's drive down the right field line was enough for a second run in the inning.

The Ladycats got one back in the bottom first. A Vista Ridge throwing error allowed Davis' courtesy runner, Shaderrian Richardson in from third base.

Hallsville only scored runs in innings it did not get a leadoff hitter on base. It squandered opportunities in the second, third, fourth and seventh innings.

A compound fielding and throwing error in the third inning allowed two Vista Ridge runners to score. Ochotnicki hit an RBI double to give the team its 5-1 lead.

It was a brutal way for the season to end, but don't count Hallsville out next season.

The team returns all but two players. Ferrill and Ingram graduated in May.

"They're upset," Eitel said. "We set some lofty goals. But I said, 'Hey, we're only losing two. We can get back here. Remember the feeling.' Like getting to the regional finals, you've got to get there to get comfortable. But, man, what a season."

Julie Ann Rawls strikes out the end a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth inning. Rawls did make two impressive plays in the outfield, however, and batted 1-for-4 in the state semifinal game. (Thao Nguyen, ETSN.fm)

Class 5A State Semifinals

At Red and Charline McCombs Field, Austin
Cedar Park Vista Ridge 12, Hallsville 5

Vista Ridge           200    303   4    --    12   17  2
Hallsville               100    040   0    --      5    9   1

Pitchers and catchers
  • Vista Ridge: Jorden Russell and Nicole Ochotnicki
  • Hallsville: Cassidy Ferrill, Haile Hollan (6) and Emma Hawthorne

 

  • WP -- Russell
  • LP --Ferrill
Doubles
  • Vista Ridge: Maddey Collins, Nicole Ochotnicki, Elizabeh Svienty
  • Hallsville: Madison McElroy, Julie Ann Rawls
Home Runs
  • Vista Ridge: Nicole Ochotnicki