AUSTIN -- The best days might be in Woden's future.

That was the takeaway for Lady Eagles fans and head coach Kim Cox after a 5-1 loss Wednesday to Shiner in the Class 2A state semifinals at the University of Texas' Red and Charline McCombs Field.

Cox trotted out seven underclassmen in Woden's first-ever softball state tournament game, and they mostly held their own against a program that will contest for its third consecutive state championship Thursday. It was a 3-1 game heading into the seventh inning.

"It has been an awesome experience," Cox said. "The group of girls I have, I don't think anybody really thought we were capable of getting here. To see them overcome the obstacles they've had all year and to really come out and play a heck of a game -- I mean, we're playing a team that's the defending state champion two years in a row. I can't ask for anything better."

All of the game's runs were assisted by errors prior to the seventh inning. Shiner's Kailey Williams hit a bases-loaded double at that point.

Obviously, Woden (24-3) committed more of the mistakes. It ended the game with five errors, one debateable.

Shiner (25-2-2) pushed across two runs in the top of the first with a leadoff walk, a throwing error that allowed the game's second batter all the way to third base and starting pitcher Bethany Nevlud's RBI single up the middle.

A third-inning error committed by the Lady Eagles allowed the leading hitter of the frame, Cameron Cowan, on base. Cowan got caught on a fielder's choice for the first out, but that allowed Mackinly Pilat on base. Pilat later scored on a throwing miscue which otherwise would have finished an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Woden more or less owned the middle two innings after Shelby Brookshire broke up Nevlud's no-hitter with two outs in the bottom third.

Reese Taylor led off the fourth with a looper to shallow right field and scored on a throwing error. The error allowed batter Lauren Muckelroy all the way to third base with one out.

However, Muckelroy stood on the final bag through the next two outs even though Nevlud issued a two-out walk and allowed the go-ahead run to the plate.

Shiner got its bearings back in the top sixth, but it felt like it just might be Woden's day when second baseman Abby Chapel and catcher Meagan Johnson paired up for a force out at the plate with two runners in scoring position. A strikeout issued by sophomore starter Amber Allen ended the threat in its entirety.

Woden got Chapel to the plate as the tying run in its share of the sixth, but she grounded out. The bottom third of the Lady Eagles' batting rotation went down in order in the final half-inning.

"It's one of those things," Cox said. "You hope you settle in quick. It took us a little bit. But we're young. We've got kids trying to take in all of this and, at the same time, play against a team with a great reputation. Overall, I'm proud of the way we played."

The softball team's loss closed the book on a great 2016-2017 academic year on the Lady Eagles' wing of the school's athletics department. Woden's girls basketball team also advanced to the state semifinal level before bowing out to the eventual champion, Panhandle.

With several overlapping players between the softball and basketball teams, and the fact seven of nine softball starters are underclassmen, Cox can easily imagine an even better 2017-2018 year.

"We're super excited," Cox said. "You don't want to sit there and say, 'Hey! We got this.' At the same time, these kids have a desire and hunger now. They've been here in both sports, want to come back and want to win it."

Shiner 5, Woden 1

Class 2A State Semifinals
At Red and Charline McCombs Field, Austin

Shiner         201    000   2    —    5       5    1
Woden        000    100   0    —    1       3    5

Pitchers and catchers

  • Shiner: Bethany Nevlud and Madison Jalufka
  • Woden: Amber Allen and Meagan Johnson

WP -- Nevlud
LP -- Allen

Doubles

  • Shiner: Kailey Williams