Mineola One Series Win From Consecutive State Softball Tournament Berths
MINEOLA -- Mineola reached the Class 2A state semifinals a season ago, and coach Jana Nance knew getting back to Austin in 3A would be a challenge.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge coming from 2A to 3A; the level of competition is totally different," she said. "But like I've been telling everybody, you've got to have that mentality that it doesn't matter who you're playing, you've just got to keep playing your game."
And while Mineola has dominated most of its postseason competition this season, the road has been much tougher at times.
The Lady Jackets were cruising right along in District 15-3A play, when they suffered a stunning loss to Mabank. Then came Van, eager to make up for an 11-0 loss earlier in the season, in a game that would determine the district champion.
Van escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh for a 1-0 win, meaning Mineola would have its work cut out in the playoffs.
The Lady Jackets rolled to series wins in the first and second rounds before a showdown with defending 3A state finalist Henderson. After dropping Game 1, Mineola recovered, advancing to the next round with a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the ninth in Game 3.
"3A is a lot more difficult than 2A; they have better pitching, better hitting, better defense … all around better players," said Mineola senior first baseman Maddie Wood. "It's taken a lot of strength, a lot of coaching and a lot of practice and dedication to get where we're at, and we're excited about it."
Mineola has lit up the scoreboard during the playoffs, averaging more than nine runs per game.
"It's been really good, in the playoffs especially," said senior shortstop Brittney Johnson. "Every now and then in a game in district, we'd have one girl not hitting good. In the playoffs, it's been 1-9."
While Mineola relies on all nine spots in the batting order, all the pitching is left to junior Rikkilyn Hass.
"She's our only pitcher, she means everything to our team," Nance said. "She knows that she's a leader, she knows that the team is right on her shoulders. She knows that she carries us and she knows that that's her role. She has to take care of business and we rely on her."
Mineola knows exactly what it's going to see in Van this weekend. The Lady Jackets get to see it every day in practice.
"They're kinda like us," said senior outfielder Ali Galaz. "We have a lot of girls that have played together since they were little, and play at a high level in travel ball. And we've played travel ball with them and against them. We've all played at a higher level; I guess that's what makes this game so (big) and why we're so ready for it. It's going to be intense because it's going to be a high-level Texas high school softball game."
Mineola Lady Jackets
- Head Coach: Jana Nance
- Record: 28-8
How they got here
- Bi-District: def. Spring Hill 2-0 in series (W 8-1, W 19-2)
- Area: def. Crandall 2-0 in series (W 18-1, W 10-3)
- Regional quarterfinals: def. Henderson 2-1 in series (L 5-3, W 7-4, W 3-2)
- Regional semifinals: def. Frisco Lone Star 2-0 in series (W 11-1, W 7-0)
Probable starting position players
- C -- Morgan Catron (.464, 10 HR, 12 2B, 4 3B)
- 1B -- Maddie Wood (.243, 7 RBI)
- 2B -- Marisa Ledkins (.488, 5 HR, 11 2B, 9 3B); signed with Kilgore College
- 3B -- Sister Green (.392, 1 HR, 5 3B)
- SS -- Brittney Johnson (.432, 3 HR, 12 2B, 3 3B); signed with Southern Arkansas
- LF -- Manda Wilmouth (.311, 5 2B)
- CF -- Ali Galaz (.467, 2 HR, 9 2B); signed with Texas Woman's University
- RF -- Cassie Skinner (.329)
Probable starting pitcher
- RHP Rikkilyn Hass