BULLARD -- Hallsville's dream of returning to the softball state tournament for the first time since 2001 yielded to Ennis' first ever trip to Austin in a 3-1, series clinching loss Friday.

It just didn't come together for the Ladycats in time.

"This team will go down as one of the best in Hallsville history," head coach Pat Eitel said. "What can you say? The kids battled back tonight. We just couldn't get the hits and get the runs. They battled into the end. We made it interesting. We were maybe one hit away from making a difference. But they never gave up and, for a coach, I'm very proud of them. Proud and honored to be a part of that thing."

Ennis' Taylor Maliska allowed one hit through five innings and finished the game allowing just three hits. (© Christopher R. Vinn ETSN.fm)

The game ended with the tying run on first base.

Ennis pitcher Taylor Maliska held the Ladycats to one hit through five innings, and the Lady Lions took a 3-0 lead in that time frame.

Things began to give though.

Hallsville's Emma Hawthorne hit a solo home run to left field with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Hannah Mizell immediately recorded the third hit of the game against Maliska on the next at-bat before the Lady Lions were able to shut the door on that potential rally chance.

Ladycats pitcher Cassidy Ferrill pitched a perfect top of the seventh to hold the two-run deficit.

Julie Ann Rawls drew a one-out walk for Hallsville to begin a final threat. With two outs, Katie McElroy battled for a 16-pitch walk to become the potential game-tying runner.

Maliska got a ground out at third base to end the game and the season for the Ladycats.

The East Texas team finished 2014 with a 37-5 record and became the first squad in 13 years to reach the regional finals round.

"We've got a young team," Eitel said. "We have a bunch of sophomores. But I told the seniors this team was all about them. It has been all year and they came through for us. The showed leadership and really showed what the program is all about."

Ennis got on the board due to two fielding errors in the second inning.

Maliska got on base on the first error and that allowed Kayla Prachyl to reach safely on a fielder's choice on the next at-bat. Shelby Pruitt made contact and a second error allowed Prachyl to come all the way home.

Hallsville's Katie McElroy fouls a ball off in the midst of her 16-pitch duel with Taylor Maliska near the end of the game. McElroy walked to become the potential game-tying runner. (© Christopher R. Vinn ETSN.fm)

The Lady Lions' Michaela Cochran singled in the third inning and was able to advance all the way to third with a stolen base and then a wild pitch. Rylie Robertson batted her in with a sacrifice fly.

In the fifth, Cochran tripled and Robertson hit her RBI sacrifice.

Maliska finished the game allowing three hits, a hit batter and two walks to five strikeouts.

"We were ready to play," Eitel said. "I surely didn't expect to have just one run, but you've got to give credit to the pitcher. She works the ball around and she's a senior. She pitched a heck of a game."

Most of Hallsville's talent returns for the 2015 season.

Eitel sees some similarities between the current Ennis team and next year's squad.

"I just told them that sometimes you have to experience it to break through," the head coach said. "Ennis has been here, but they hadn't broke through until this time. I told my seniors that when we get here again we're going to knock the door down. I want my three seniors in the dugout at state because they helped get us here."

Ennis celebrates its first ever state tournament berth after topping Hallsville at Bullard Brook Hill. (© Christopher R. Vinn ETSN.fm)

 

Ennis 3, Hallsville 1

Class 4A Region II Final Playoff Series -- Game 2

At Brook Hill's Schwab Field

 

Ennis            011    010    0    --    3    5    2
Hallsville       000    001    0    --    1    3   2

Pitchers and catchers
  • Ennis: Taylor Maliska and Kinsey Skroh.
  • Hallsville: Cassidy Ferrill and Emma Hawthorne.

 

WP -- Maliska.
LP -- Ferrill.

 

Doubles
  • Ennis: Julia Hollingsworth, Michaela Cochran.
Triples
  • Ennis:  Cochran
Home Runs
  • Hallsville: Emma Hawthorne (solo).