Harleton’s Comeback Thwarted by Defending Champs in 1A Title Game
AUSTIN -- Harleton looked like a team needing a miracle as it entered the seventh inning of the Class A softball state championship game at Red and Charline McCombs Field.
It got it. But Weimar received a break of its own in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 4-3 championship win.
"What we needed to do was take pitches and make (Kendall Marak) throw strikes," Harleton head coach Justin Kniffen said. "I wish we would have done that earlier and solved her quicker than we did, but it is what it is."
Harleton needed three runs to keep their championship dream alive against Weimar, a team from right in between Houston and San Antonio with the Ladycats nickname. Weimar had been there before as the 2013 Class A champions.
Hits were very difficult to come by against Marak. She allowed two hits through six innings and gave up no free rides via walks or hit batters.
Both hits up to that point in time came from Harleton left fielder Avery Underwood. One was on the very first at-bat of the game, a double that ultimately led to Underwood getting stranded at third base.
Weimar, meanwhile, scored two runs in the bottom of the first and added a third score in the fourth inning.
The seventh inning was different.
Shortstop Kaylee Knowlton started Harleton off with a leadoff double. Then Taylor Pyland drew Marak's first walk of the game.
The championship swung when right fielder Baylee Cochran hit a 2 RBIs triple.
First baseman Ali Modisette knocked in Pyland with a blooper into shallow right field to tie the game and advanced to second on a throw to home plate.
With the potential winning run on second base, Morgan Underwood laid down a sacrifice bunt. Unfortunately, a ground out to third base and a strikeout looking ended the inning.
"We did things early in the game that we hadn't done in 38 games," Kniffen said. "That's what the frustrating part of it was. But once we solved her and got past the awe of being in the state championship game, we kind of got in a rhythm. But never fully got into rhythm to put things together for consecutive innings."
The good feeling was sucked out of Harleton's dugout very quickly.
Weimar's first hitter of the bottom seventh, McKenna Munsch, clearly had a base hit on a roller to the outfield. An error in the outfield allowed Munsch all the way to third.
Harleton's opponent essentially had three opportunities to move Munsch 60 feet for the state title.
Kniffen decided to intentionally load the bases so the squad could get a force out at home rather than have catcher Dakotah Hawk make a tag.
It didn't matter.
Weimar freshman shortstop Emma Holland hit a fly ball deep enough to score Munsch. Harleton's fielder fell down to remove all doubt.
The opposing Ladycats rushed the field and the two teams were shaking hands and getting set for the medal ceremonies a minute later.
"They were living a dream," Kniffen said of his team. "They were living something most girls just think about. We got to live it and had a shot at it. That's all you want when you come down here. A shot. We had it, it didn't work out and Weimar had been here before and knew how to win. Other than losing this one, I'm tickled pink with them."
The championship could realistically go to Harleton next season.
Weimar's squad is losing three critical seniors, including Marak and Munsch. Harleton has lost Knowlton and Cochran.
Freshman pitcher Randi Carol Phillips will be back. She pitched a perfect game Wednesday to get Harleton into the championship.
"I think we're going to be better next year," Kniffen said. "We've got some incoming freshmen who can come in and contribute immediately to go along with our freshmen and underclassmen that started. The future is bright. Hope to be here again next year. We'll see."
Weimar 4, Harleton 3
Class A State Championship Game
At The University of Texas' Red and Charline McCombs Field, Austin
Harleton 000 000 3 -- 3 5 4
Weimar 200 100 1 -- 4 6 0
Pitchers and catchers
- Harleton: Randi Carol Phillips and Dakotah Hawk.
- Weimar: Kendall Marak and Hunter Ervin.
WP -- Marak.
LP -- Phillips.
- Harleton: Morgan Underwood, Kaylee Knowlton.
- Weimar: Mckayla Kunz.
- Harleton: Baylee Cochran.