ROUND ROCK - The ride back to the state tournament had been almost too easy for the Shiner Lady Comanches. After beating playoff foes by an average of over nine runs per game, the Lady Comanches finally had to gut one out Thursday night.
The Lady Comanches jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and then held off the Bosqueville Lady Bulldogs for a 6-3 Class 1A regional final victory at Round Rock McNeil's Maverick Stadium to advance to the state tournament for the first time since winning it all in 2002.
"I just told the girls not to relax," Shiner coach Brandon Siegel said. "They are a good team. We had to maintain our focus and not forget what was at stake."
Pitcher Heather Haas, one of seven freshman starters for the Lady Comanches, led the way for Shiner at the plate by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored and also struck out 12 Bosqueville batters in improving her record to 18-3.
"I think we relaxed a little bit and lost sight of what we needed to do," Haas said. "The game is never over until the last inning."
It appeared the Lady Comanches (21-4) were headed toward another blowout victory as they greeted Bosqueville pitcher Ashley Barnes with four runs in the top of the first.
After Alyssa Strauss reached on a fielder's choice groundout and Maci Schaefer singled, Heather Haas followed with a line drive over left fielder Makenzy Antis' head for a two-run double. Haas advanced to third on a throw to home plate.
Morgan Ullman was hit by a Barnes pitch and stole second before Haas scored on a Barnes wild pitch to make it 3-0. Megan Cejka's fielder's choice groundout scored Ullman for the Lady Comanches' fourth run of the inning.
"We just knew we had to keep playing our game and executing our plays," said Ullman, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run, of the quick four-run lead.
But Bosqueville, which finished the season with a 16-6-2 record, refused to fold and began chipping away at the Shiner lead with one run in the third. Barnes singled past third baseman Courtney Frank and courtesy runner Morgan Elkins was bunted to second by Caitlin Jackson. After Haley Feight popped up to Frank, Elkins stole third and scored on Grace Getman's two-out infield single to make it 4-1.
The Lady Bulldogs tried to pull closer in the fourth. Loren McCormick led off with a line drive off the right-center field wall. Center fielder Ieisha Flowers played the carom well to hold McCormick to a single.
McCormick's hit, which was only three feet from being a home run, served as sort of a wakeup call for Haas.
"I wasn't putting my pitches where I wanted to and she made me pay for it," Haas said.
Haas then ended Bosqueville's scoring threat by striking out the next three batters to begin her string of five straight strikeouts.
Shiner padded its lead to 5-1 in the fifth with a two-out rally. Strauss was hit by a Barnes pitch and Schaefer hit a sharp single up the middle. Haas then followed with hard-hit grounder through a hole on the left side of the infield. The ball bounced high off the lip of the outfield grass, allowing Strauss to score easily.
Bosqueville put together its own two-out rally in the fifth to pull within 5-3.
Haas recorded her fifth straight strikeout before Getman and Raygan Feight hit consecutive singles. Both runners advanced on a passed ball and scored on Brittany Light's two-run single to center. Flowers let the ball go through her legs and roll to the fence to allow Light to reach third. But Haas got McCormick to pop out to shortstop Strauss to strand Light.
Shiner made it 6-3 in the seventh as Strauss led off with a walk and scored on Ullman's RBI double over the head of center fielder Amy Prause.
Haas retired the first two Bosqueville batters in the bottom of the seventh before Getman singled. But Strauss squeezed a high popup by Raygan Feight for the third out and the lady Comanches celebrated an end to their four-year state tournament absence.
"We came here with a lot of momentum and we knew what we had to do," said Schaefer, who was 2-for-4 with a run scored. "They had some pretty good hits, but we were able to pull through."
REGIONAL FINAL - MAY 25, 2006 - GAME 1 OF 1 SCORE: F Shiner 4 0 0 0 1 0 1 -- 6 Bosqueville 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 -- 3 HIGHLIGHTS: Class 1A Regional Final at Round Rock McNeil WP: Heather Haas (18-3). LP: Ashley Barnes. Highlights: (S) Haas 2-for-4, 3 RBIs, run, struck out 12; Maci Schaefer 2-for-4, run; Morgan Ullman 2-for-3, RBI, run. Records: Shiner 21-4, Bosqueville 16-6-2. Note: Shiner advances to the state tournament.