BRENHAM -- Shiner coach Brandon Siegel wasnít a very happy birthday boy through the first four innings of the Lady Comanchesí Class 1A regional final softball game Friday against the Thorndale Lady Dogs.
After watching the Lady Comanches go scoreless for the third inning in a row, Siegel gave his players the silent treatment as they went back onto the field for the bottom of the fourth.
"It always seems to get us motivated when he gets into one of his moods," Shiner first baseman Taylor Hajek said.
Like clockwork, the Lady Comanches responded with five runs over the next two innings and Heather Haas tossed a five-hit shutout as Shiner beat Thorndale 6-0 to advance to the state tournament for the third year in a row.
"Early on, I didnít know what to expect," said Siegel, who turned 32 on Friday. "Finally, the girls settled down."
Shiner (22-6) stranded five runners on base over the first four innings as it took a shaky 1-0 lead into the top of the fifth. Thatís when the Lady Comanchesí bats finally began to get around on Thorndale pitcher Angel Bigan.
With two outs, Hajek, who was 2-for-3 with a run scored, singled and reached second as left fielder Mirah Knapek misplayed the ball. Heather Haas then followed with a sharp single to left field that went through the legs of Knapek and all the way to the wall to allow Hajek to easily score.
Heather Haas advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Amber Shimek hit a run-scoring single to center field to make it 3-0.
"It always seems like it takes us a while to get our bats going," said Hajek, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI. "I donít know why that is."
Shiner put the game away in a three-run sixth.
Paige Michalec was hit by a Bigan pitch and scored on Ieisha Flowersídouble off the base of the center-field wall. After Holly Haas reached on an error by third baseman Brealyn Hernandez, Flowers scored on a passed ball to pad the Lady Comanchesí lead to 5-0. Alyssa Strauss then drove in Holly Haas with a double.
Heather Haas recorded her second shutout in a row and was still topping 60 mph with her pitches in the seventh inning. She struck out seven and walked one.
"I knew they had a good ballclub," said Haas, who has allowed only two runs in 31 innings pitched in the playoffs. "I thought that one run on the scoreboard wasnít going to be enough to win."
The Lady Dogs (13-3) didnít get a runner past second base until the bottom of the seventh when courtesy runner Becky Garcia tried to score from second on Kayla Lindemannís single to left field.
But Ullmann fired the ball to catcher Holly Haas, who tagged Garcia out in front of the plate to the end the game.
The Lady Comanches gave Heather Haas the only run she would need in the first inning. Strauss drew a leadoff walk, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when shortstop Carissa Goetz misplayed a routine grounder by Heather Haas.
Shiner appeared it would score more as it loaded the bases with only one out. But Bigan got out of the inning with no further damage by retiring Morgan Ullmann and Paige Michalec on fly balls.
Thatís when the scowl began to appear on Siegelís face. It got worse as the Lady Comanches put only two runners on base over the next three innings.
"I donít know what happened. We just started getting passive,"Siegel said. "I expected us to come out swinging the bats. Finally, after the fourth inning, I just didnít say anything to them. I just gave them ĎThe Lookí. They know what that look means."
"I think he just wanted us to realize that we needed to get our heads in the game and score some runs," Shimek said.
After the game, Siegelís players surrounded him as he spun around home plate 32 times while resting his head on a bat. He then tried to run to first base, but only made it a few steps.
"No way I was going to make it," Siegel said.
Siegel admitted there were also times this season when he wondered if the Lady Comanches would make it to Austin.
"In a way, this was the toughest (road to the state tournament)," Siegel said. "There was a lot of pressure to get back. But every game in the playoffs is tough."
Game summary Game of May 23, 2008 Class 1A Regional Final Game at Brenham High School Score F Shiner 1 0 0 0 2 3 0 -- 6 Thorndale 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 0 W: Heather Haas. L: Angel Bigan. Highlights: (S) Haas 5-hit shutout, seven strikeouts; Taylor Hajek 2-for-3, run; Amber Shimek 2-for-4, RBI. (T) Brealyn Hernandez 2-for-3. Records: Shiner 22-6, Thorndale 13-3. Note: Shiner advances to state tournament.