Just seconds into the interview, Shiner catcher Maci Schaefer had to chase away one of her teammates who had cracked open the door to eavesdrop on the conversation.
Shiner's Maci Schaefer, the Lady Comanches' lone senior, hopes to end her career Saturday as a state champion if Shiner can defeat McLeod today in the Class 1A state semifinals in Austin. The Lady Comanches hope to advance to Saturday's title game at 8:30 a.m. at McCombs Field in Austin. photo by Harry Reese, Special to the Advocate
"Get out!" Schaefer exclaimed. "She's trying to listen to me. Get out!"
It's all part of being the "big sister" on the Lady Comanches' softball team.
Schaefer is the only senior on the Shiner team that will make its second straight trip to the Class 1A state tournament today. The Lady Comanches (21-6-1) will face McLeod (14-19) in today's first 1A semifinal at 8:30 a.m. at McCombs Field in Austin. The Shiner-McLeod winner will play the winner of today's 11 a.m. semifinal between Bosqueville (24-7) and Seymour (25-8) for the state title Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
Last year, as the Lady Comanches' oldest player as a junior, Schaefer played an instrumental role last year in helping the maturation of seven freshman starters into a team that reached the state semifinals.
"Maci has definitely fulfilled the leadership role on the team," sophomore pitcher Heather Haas said. "If somebody is doing something wrong, she'll take authority to correct them. If she sees my pitches aren't working, she'll come to the mound and set me straight."
But Schaefer isn't overly critical of her younger teammates. She also offers encouragement and knows when her teammates need a lift.
"Maci picks us up all the time and gets our spirits up," sophomore right fielder Morgan Ullmann said. "She's like a big sister to everybody. She doesn't really get mad, she just tells us during a game that we just can't let some things happen again. She knows how to handle us well."
Schaefer is also very appreciative of the sophomores she took under wing a year ago.
"Without them, we wouldn't be where we are today," said Schaefer, who is batting .370 with 21 RBIs and has a superb .988 fielding percentage. "I'm just happy that they've pushed themselves to become better so I could get to the state tournament."
Now Schaefer hopes to go home Saturday with a state title. Facing a team today with 19 losses, it would appear on paper that the Lady Comanches have a good chance to make it to Saturday's final. But Shiner is discounting McLeod's sub-.500 record.
"Records don't mean anything at this point in the game," Lady Comanches coach Brandon Siegel said. "Obviously, they are doing something right because they're at the state tournament. They're peaking at the right time."
McLeod coach Kyle Brown said he was hoping Shiner would look past his Lady Longhorns.
"We'll take any advantage we can get," Brown said. "But being 14-19, there's not a whole lot of pressure on our girls."
The Lady Comanches returned all 10 starters from last year's team that walked off McCombs Field after losing 6-2 to Clyde Eula in the semifinals. They all remember the feeling of coming up short in Austin.
"You can see a little bit more drive in them this year," Siegel said. "Being there last year has helped us out tremendously as far as experience and knowing what to expect. I think that will give us a little bit of an edge this year."
"We weren't very happy with how last year ended," Ullmann said. "But when we step on that field, we'll know this is our chance to bring it all home."
NOTES: This is Shiner's seventh trip to the state tournament. The Lady Comanches won 1A state titles in 2001 and '02, the only times they have reached the final. McLeod also reached the state tournament in 2004 and '05 and lost in the semifinals both times. ... The Lady Longhorns were 3-12 at one point this season. ... McLeod sophomore pitcher Kelsey Parker is 9-11 on the year, but 5-1 in the postseason.