SHINER ó The Shiner Lady Comanches are headed to Austin for the UIL state softball tournament for the first time since 2011, and the players are anxious to do well and make some memories at the programís first trip to the tournament in three years.
The Shiner Lady Comanche softball team will face Hawley in the Class 2A state semifinals at noon Wednesday at UT's Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin.
[ NOTE: click on photo to enlarge ]
"I do not even know what to think," senior catcher Tamara Hajek said.
Tamara will join her older sister, Taylor, as a member of the Hajek clan that has played for Shiner in the state tournament.
"Taylor got a bronze, silver and gold (2006, 2007, 2008)," Tamara Hajek said.
Going to Austin fulfills a dream for the Lady Comanches and Tamara Hajek.
"It has been a dream of mine considering this is the third straight year we have reached the regional finals, and finally have won that round and have beaten Weimar," she said.
Tamara Hajek said she experienced competing in a state completion with the band earlier in the school year.
"Now, it will be a different point of view being a sport that I am going to further my career in," she said. "There are no words I can use to describe how I am feeling right now. We have a young team but the underclassmen know how important it is for me and(designated player) Lenae (Kremling), the seniors. We have all worked for it and everyone deserves to have a moment like this."
With a game plan that has worked all season, Shiner will need to just play its game and execute well.
"Weíll approach the state tournament like we approach any game. Itís really no different than playing a game at your home field," Tamara Hajek said. "We just have to take care of business."
"We just have to play Lady Comanche softball ó keep the bats alive, stay aggressive on the field and play like weíve been playing."
"We have to come out with our usual intensity," Kremling said.
Tamara Hajek said she wants the underclassmen to learn from the experience and cherish the result of working hard throughout the season.
"Never forget the feeling of making it to state; donít forget how hard you worked all the way through," Tamara Hajek said.
Junior left fielder Hannah Nevlud said she and her fellow underclassmen want to learn from the experience.
"Everyone I talked to who has been to a state championship said these will be memories we never forget," she said. "I hope we learn about being a team and family."
Kremling is looking to enjoy the fruits of the teamís work and time spent with her teammates.
"I am excited because we finally get to go to state and we have a really good team that works hard," she said. "Iím very grateful to be part of it."
"I am looking to get memories out of this trip to state. I will enjoy being there with the team, and taking in being on the field, the crowd and the atmosphere."
Every softball program in the state starts their season out with the ultimate goal of playing in Austin.
But only a few see it to frutation.
"Playing in the state tournament is all we have talked about this year," Nevlud said. "It was our main goal besides making the playoffs. We knew we would probably run into Weimar again in the regional finals and we wanted to beat them for our seniors."
Weimar has have ended the Purple and Goldís track to state for two straight years.
It did not happen a third time as Shiner won 8-6 in the first game last Thursday and endured a competitive Weimar effort and a rain delay to win 6-5 on Saturday.
"I think our defense had a lot to do with it," Nevlud said. "We have a really solid defense, a good middle infield, good corners and a solid outfield. We have also been hitting the ball really well this year."
"And the fact that Kendall Marek graduated helped too. She was a solid pitcher and her pitching was a challenge we could not get over."
"Getting past Weimar in the regional final was a major accomplishment for us," Shiner head coach Steven Cerny said. "Weimar is a very good team, solid program and has back-to-back state titles. Our girls really worked hard for a state-tournament spot this year and were determined to get past the Weimar hump."
He said Shiner did not play smooth on defense in game two against Weimar.
"I hope we have gotten that out of our system," Cerny said.
The Lady Comanches are scheduled to face Hawley in the second 2A semifinals at noon on Wednesday.
While saying he did not have a lot of information yet on the kind of team Hawley is, Cerny echoed his two seniorsí opinions on playing the normal Lady Comanche game in order to defeat them.
"We have played a very tough schedule this year. There is no doubt that the state teams will be top notch," he said. "But I donít think it will be anything we havenít seen this year and I feel like that has prepared us well."