Randi Carol Phillips’ Perfect Game Sends Harleton to Class A State Finals
AUSTIN -- Whether Harleton wins the thing or not, softball fans state-wide are going to remember where they were between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday for a long, long time.
Randi Carol Phillips -- a freshman -- pitched a perfect game in the Class A state semifinals. The perfecto put the Ladycats into Thursday's state championship game.
"Oh my gosh," Phillips said less than five minutes after recording the last out. "Holy crap. That just happened."
The UIL is researching its record book to learn if Phillips' outing was the first perfect game in state tournament history. The governing body is certain, however, Harleton's 5-0 win against Hubbard in the state semifinal was the first of its kind since it moved the pitching circle from 40 feet in front of the plate to 43 feet in 2011.
It was the 12th no-hitter in the tournament's history.
Offense has increased dramatically since the rule went into effect. State tournament teams combined for 192 hits in the final year of the 40-foot era all the way to 245 hits last year.
Total runs have increased 193 percent since the 2010 tournament in the softball championships' final two rounds.
This was a culmination for Phillips (16-3). She has allowed just one earned run through the playoffs.
"She's really been in the zone the last five to six weeks," Harleton head coach Justin Kniffen said. "In any one-game format, I like our chances. She has been spot on. She's just in the zone. When we give her a lead, she's tough to beat. We got her an early lead, she was on, and it's a good combination."
All of the Ladycats' runs came with two outs against Hubbard pitcher Olivia Curtis. She had a 24-4 record entering the game.
Third baseman Dana Cooner gave the Ladycats (30-8) a permanent lead in the second inning with a 2 RBIs hit through the middle of Hubbard's defense.
Ali Modisette added a run with a double to score Baylee Cochran in the top of the third.
After scoreless fourth and fifth frames, Avery Underwood batted in Morgan Bullock and then was sent home when shortstop Kaylee Knowlton outran a mishandled catch and throw from Hubbard's second baseman.
Phillips retired Hubbard's entire starting lineup twice and then got the top of its order a third time on the other end of the winning equation. Twenty-one straight outs.
"It was really exciting," Cooner said. "Our fans were a big help and they were just cheering us on late when they realized what was happening. They got us going."
Phillips' milestone was not in danger until the sixth inning.
The pitcher worked the count full against Sydney Lane, but got Lane with a swinging strikeout on pitch No. 7 of the at-bat for the final out of the bottom sixth.
Knowlton made an amazing play at shortstop for the second out in the final inning. Curtis hit a blooper about 30 feet from the shortstop position and Knowlton caught the ball on a full run with her back to the infield.
"My defense was working super, super well," Phillips said. "We all had our heads in the game and we were trusting everybody. The offense meant a whole lot. It makes it so much easier when you're up two after two."
Fans were barred from gathering around Harleton's dugout entrance, so they lined up for Phillips and the lot along a wheelchair ramp near the University of Texas' Red and Charline McCombs Field security gate. The players left the field to desperate hand wavers as if they were Olympic players while its future opponent, Weimar, took the diamond for its semifinal game against Petrolia.
They watched. They know.
Harleton will play for the Class A crown Thursday at 3 p.m. Phillips will get the start.
"You go through the game plan and in you're in the midst of the game and then all of a sudden you look around and see where you are," Kniffen said. "You've got to refocus. It's a great feeling, but, you know, we can pin our ears back and play. It's all about going out and doing what we can."
The Ladycats are just one game away.
"I'm going ice and stretch," Phillips said. "Ice, stretch and pray. To bring the championship home, it would mean the world. I don't even know. It would mean a lot."
Harleton 5, Hubbard 0
Class A State Semifinal Game
At The University of Texas' Red and Charline McCombs Field, Austin
Harleton 002 100 2 -- 5 10 0
Hubbard 000 000 0 -- 0 0 2
Pitchers and catchers
- Harleton: Randi Carol Phillips and Dakotah Hawk.
- Hubbard: Olivia Curtis and Amy Anz.
WP -- Phillips.
LP -- Curtis.
- Harleton: Baylee Cochran, Ali Modisette, Taylor Pyland.
- Harleton: Morgan Bullock.