AUSTIN -- Maybe Harleton cared too much about avenging last season's softball state championship loss.

The team pressed and pressed some more in a 3-0, Class 2A state championship game defeat to Shiner. Its second such heartbreak in as many seasons.

"We did not play well at all in any phase," Ladycats shellshocked head coach Justin Kniffen said. "Still had a shot, we just didn't play well at all. You just can't do that. You can't do things in the 36th game of the year that you haven't done in 35. And we did. It's frustrating. It's tough."

Taylor Pyland's contact drops in front of Shiner pitcher CeCe Derilek and then bounces off for a hit in the first inning. Harleton loaded the bases in that frame, but it never reached third base again. (Thao Nguyen, ETSN.fm)

The worst part is Harleton (33-3) played at its potential in the opening inning. Ali Modisette loaded the bases with one out in that frame, following a 1-2-3 defensive performance.

But the team laid down a bunt the next at-bat. Shiner (31-5-1) managed to get the force out at home plate before the inning ended with a ground out to second base.

The Ladycats never touched third base again.

Compounding problems, Harleton started swinging on mediocre hitting opportunities from winning starting pitcher CeCe Darilek early in the count.

Darilek did not break 50 pitches until after recording the second out of the sixth inning.

Eleven out of 12 straight Ladycats batters swung on the first or second pitch of their at-bat between the second and fifth innings. Only three reached base in that span, two on defensive errors.

"We were just off," Kniffen said. "We did not play well. But, like I said, we still had a shot. We were still getting base runners. We just couldn't get that hit. Then we'd goof up on the base paths. So, you know, it's frustrating. It really is frustrating. But a lot of teams would like to be where we are right now and we've got to keep that in perspective."

Harleton pitcher Randi Carol Phillips, a Texas A&M commitment, went the distance in the loss. She allowed six base runners and struck out five batters in the final game of her sophomore season. (Thao Nguyen, ETSN.fm)

Harleton worked Darilek harder in the final two innings. It even drew two, two-out walks in the sixth. Without much fatigue, however, the pitcher got the four remaining outs needed with ground balls on 15 throws. She finished the day on 74 pitches.

Darilek did not record a single strikeout, but she only allowed three hits and seven total base runners despite two defensive errors.

Harleton sophomore pitcher Randi Carol Phillips had a solid performance in her own right. She allowed four hits, a walk and a sixth base runner on a throwing error while striking out six batters. It took 93 pitches.

Shiner took the lead in the top of the second. Bethany Nevlud, the game's Baden Most Valuable Player award winner, led it off with a liner over third base and reached third base on a throwing error the next at-bat. Kassidy Bishop sent her home with a fly out to deep left field.

Nevlud gave Shiner a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning. She hit a recreational vehicle's roof beyond left field.

Bishop scored an insurance run in the seventh inning. Kori Landman flew out to left field for the RBI.

Shiner, which needed a three-run seventh inning rally in the state semifinals to reach the championship, outscored opponents 76-17 during the postseason. Its win came four years to the day it last won a softball title.

The Ladycats combined to out perform combined opponents 84-12. No team got within five runs prior to Thursday.

A Harleton-Shiner match up in the next year's title game isn't out of the question. Both teams only graduated two seniors.

"The goal every year is to get here and see what you can do," Kniffen said. "We had the goal of winning the state championship and that's what we wanted to do. That's what's so disappointing. But, yeah, we've set the bar high and we've got a lot of returners. We're just going to work our butts off and try to get back here next year."

Morgan Bullock made five impressive catches in left field, including this one up against the wall in the second inning, but two snags were RBI sacrifices. (Thao Nguyen, ETSN.fm)

Class 2A State Championship Game

At Red and Charline McCombs Field, Austin
Shiner 3, Harleton 0

Shiner                   010    001    1    --    3    4    2
Harleton               000    000    0    --    0    3    2

Pitchers and catchers
  • Shiner: CeCe Darilek and Tamara Hajek
  • Harleton: Randi Carol Phillips and Hailey Pyland

 

  • WP -- Darilek
  • LP -- Phillips
 Home Runs
  • Shiner: Bethany Nevlud