Lufkin Hudson Withstands Mineola’s Furious Seventh-Inning Rally to Capture Second Consecutive State Title
AUSTIN -- Lufkin Hudson coach Jimmy Eby put it best.
“The hardest thing to do is to repeat," he said after his team wrapped up their second consecutive Class 3A state championship with a 12-9 win over Mineola on Saturday at Red & Charline McCombs Field.
Truer words may never have been spoken.
Mineola scored seven runs -- all with two outs -- in the bottom of the seventh, bringing the potential game-winning run to the plate, before the Lady Hornets were finally able to escape.
"We had a huge target for the whole state of Texas," Eby said. "We were the defending state champs, so we knew we had a target on our backs. We knew that we were going to get everybody’s best. And it was a little bit of relief knowing that it’s done, it’s over and let’s go enjoy two in a row.”
Hudson (38-7-1) entered the bottom of the seventh with a seemingly insurmountable 12-2 lead, and after Mineola's first two hitters of the inning were retired, the championship was all but assured.
Then it got crazy.
Kassy Skinner singled to center with two strikes, and Britney Johnson followed an RBI triple to make it 12-3. After Rikkilyn Hass' run-scoring single to center, Marisa Ledkins moved her to second with a single of her own.
Morgan Catron then hit a grounder to Hudson shortstop Bryli Lee, who attempted to tag Hass out in the baseline when the ball was jarred loose to create a bases-loaded situation.
Mineola's Jade "Sister" Green proceeded to unload the bases with a three-run double to cut the deficit to 12-7. Green then moved to third and later scored on a passed ball to trim the Hudson lead to four runs.
Ali Galaz then drew a four-pitch walk and came around to score on Manda Wilmoth's RBI double that made it 12-9. Maddie Wood was hit by a pitch and Skinner drew a full-count walk to load the bases for Johnson, who represented the winning run.
Johnson fell behind 0-2, and after a couple of foul balls, jerked a sharp grounder down the first-base line. Hudson's Alyssa Dotson made a diving stop, knocking the ball down with her glove, before beating Johnson to the bag for the game's final out.
A celebration in the middle of the diamond ensued, but not without pause.
“Really, a sense of relief because it was kinda crazy," said Hudson pitcher and championship game Most Valuable Player Kelsee Selman when asked about her feelings after the game. "I knew that we could do it, God was with us the whole time. I was glad we got that last out.”
Mineola was down to its last strike on four separate occasions in the seventh.
“That’s how we played all year," said Mineola coach Jana Nance. "It just showed their heart and how hungry they were. But we can’t wait until the end to do something and we can’t wait until two outs to start scoring. Our comeback was amazing.”
The comeback attempt from Mineola (31-9) overshadowed what was a dominant first six and-a-half innings for Hudson.
Hudson's 4-5-6 hitters -- Lee, KK Parker and Dotson -- did almost all of the damage at the plate for the Lady Hornets. Dotson went 2-for-4 with a double and five RBIs, Lee was 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs, while Parker finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs in Hudson's 15-hit attack.
Hudson averaged only five runs per game in the playoffs prior to the state tournament, in which the Lady Hornets combined for 21 runs.
“Mental approach," Eby said of the offense's big difference this week. "We work on our mental game, approach and pitch selection. Our swings are fine, we swing the bats well. But our mental approach and our pitching selection at the plate had to change a little bit.”
Up until the seventh, Selman was dominating a Mineola lineup that had averaged more than 11 runs per game in the postseason. Through 6 2/3 innings, the LSU signee had only allowed two runs on five hits.
"Kelsee’s not 100 percent, but she fought and she battled," Eby said.
Hudson wasted little time in building a lead, going up 3-0 in the top of the first. Alyssa Pierce crossed home on an error, and Dotson stroked a two-run double to the right-center field gap with two outs.
Mineola answered with two runs in the bottom of the second. Galaz doubled home Catron, then came around to score on a throwing error.
The Lady Hornets increased their lead to 5-2 in the third on a two-run single by Dotson, and broke it open with four runs in the fourth. Lee and Parker each had two-run doubles to push Hudson's advantage to 9-2.
Ashley Davis singled home a run in the sixth, while Lee and Dotson had RBIs in the seventh to increase Hudson's lead to 10 runs.
But the game was far from over.
“They never gave up," Eby said of Mineola. "We told the girls that they’re not going to give up, and they didn’t. Kelsee got a little tired, they hit some mistakes and we knew they were going to hit mistakes but we just fought back defensively and stayed in there.”
Lufkin Hudson 12, Mineola 9
Class 3A State Final
Red & Charline McCombs Field, Austin
Hudson 302 401 2 -- 12 15 2
Mineola 020 000 7 -- 9 11 1
Hudson: Kelsee Selman and Ashley Davis. Mineola: Rikkilyn Hass and Morgan Catron.
WP -- Selman (35-5).
LP -- Hass (30-9).
2B -- Hudson: Bryli Lee (2), Alyssa Dotson. Mineola: Catron, Jade "Sister" Green, Ali Galaz, Manda Wilmoth.
3B -- Mineola: Britney Johnson.
Records -- Hudson: 38-7-1. Mineola: 31-9.
Attendance -- 1,037.