Van Advances to 3A State Championship After ‘Zero-Gravity’ Game Against Snyder
AUSTIN -- Van is going to play in the Class 3A state championship game because Autumn McKinney hit a two-run inside-the-park home run to supplement Haleigh Moore's four-run unofficial inside-the-park home run and other wild scores.
Thursday's semifinal game between the Lady Vandals and Snyder should be known as a 'zero-gravity' game. The teams' 15-13 outcome broke the Class 3A state tournament record for runs scored in a game -- 28 runs -- on top of 34 hits and 11 errors.
"Neither team quit," Van head coach Craig Ham said. "I never felt like we had enough runs. I never felt safe."
Hallee Carter's leadoff triple proved not to be as special as Lady Vandals fans initially thought, but every run counted in this game. She was knocked in by Ashlin Lovett's ground out on the second at-bat for a 1-0 lead.
The game was going with softball norms.
Snyder and Van traded scoreless frames. Then the West Texas squad gave its first indication this wasn't going to be a routine, two-hour game with four runs on four hits in the bottom of the second inning.
Still, things can get out of control for a while. Even in semifinal games.
Down 4-1, Van rallied with five runs in the top of the third inning.
Carter scored on a Snyder shortstop error and cut the deficit down to 4-2.
Then with two outs and the bases juiced, Moore doubled to center field and the fielder missed the ground ball approaching her for a four-run quasi inside-the-park home run play. The Lady Vandals led 6-4 at that point.
But Snyder scored two runs in their share of the third inning to tie the game, 6-6.
The game continued on its wild back-and-forth trajectory.
Van put up seven runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by back-to-back 2 RBIs base hits from Lovett and Moore.
McKinney moved from her starting position in right field to pitcher beginning with the final out of Snyder's third inning. She held the Tigers scoreless in the fourth inning to temporarily preserve Lady Vandals' new 13-6 lead.
Snyder decided not to cancel their Austin hotel reservations just yet. It held Van scoreless and then put up four more runs in the bottom fifth to cut into the lead, 13-10.
Kylee Moore reached base safely to begin the sixth inning and was batted in on McKinney's true inside-the-park home run.
The ball landed between two outfielders and rolled to the deepest part of Red and Charline McCombs Field, some 220 feet from the plate. Snyder had no chance against someone with McKinney's speed.
"Usually I can't hit outside pitches," McKinney said. "I don't know. I just got a home run off of it. We caught a lot of breaks today."
McKinney's score looked like insurance runs. It upped Snyder's deficit to 15-10, and the Tigers went down in four plate appearances in the bottom sixth.
The bottom seventh could have haunted Coach Ham's dreams for a long time.
It started with a pop up to third baseman Jordain Castillo. But an error allowed Snyder's Alexis Prouix to avoid becoming the second out on a weakly hit ball. McKinney got Van to within one out of the championship game with a nine-pitch strikeout.
Snyder's next, and final, four batters reached base safely. It scored three runs on two hits and three errors before McKinney and the Vandals could stop the bleeding for a final score of 15-13.
Adrianna Hernandez doubled to score one run, but Moore made a play at the plate to get the long lost third out.
"I just think both teams hit the ball and took advantage of each others' errors and mistakes," Ham said. "It was a strange game, but I'll take it."
All's well that ends well.
Van will play for the Class 3A state championship game Saturday against La Grange.
"What an opportunity," Ham said. "I am so proud of these girls to get this opportunity. We've got to play better, but this is the girl's first time down here. I know they're scared. Who wouldn't be? Even if we were nervous, we battled and that's all you can ask for."
Van 15, Snyder 13
Class 3A State Semifinal Game
At The University of Texas' Red and Charline McCombs Field, Austin
Van 105 702 0 -- 15 16 8
Snyder 042 040 3 -- 13 18 3
Pitchers and catchers
- Van: Nicole Gandy, Autumn McKinney (3) and Haleigh Moore.
- Snyder: Adrianna Hernandez, Taylor Hinojos (4), Hernandez (4) and Alexis Proulx.
WP -- Autumn McKinney.
LP -- Adrianna Hernandez.
- Van: Moore (scored on error).
- Snyder: Shadye Millican, Hernandez.
- Van: Hallee Carter, Ashlin Lovett.
- Van: McKinney (inside-the-park).