SHINER -- Rise ball, outside corner.
Shiner pitcher Heather Haas, center, is determined to not let the Lady Comanches leave Austin without a state title. photo by Roni Gendler, Advocate Staff Photographer
The pitch was right where Shiner's Heather Haas wanted it. But no one at McCombs Field could have predicted where it would wind up.
After all, Haas had been so dominating in the first five innings that it appeared the Lady Comanches' 1-0 lead would certainly hold up. Haas had extended her playoff shutout streak to 29 innings and had retired eight straight batters heading into the sixth.
But Bosqueville took advantage of a leadoff single, error, and Haas walk to load the bases. Then, somehow, Raygan Feight turned on the 60-mph pitch and hit a line drive just barely over the left-field fence and just inches fair of the foul pole for a sixth-inning grand slam that gave Bosqueville a 4-1 win over the Lady Comanches in last year's Class 1A state championship game.
Haas was so distraught over the outcome that she was unable to come out of the locker room until her father and cousin finally coaxed her out.
"Her whole dream was just gone," Heather's mother, Sharon, said. "It took her a while to face everyone."
"I didn't talk to anybody," Heather said. "I just couldn't believe it."
Almost each day since, Haas has replayed that pitch in her mind. She even watches a DVD of the fateful play with her teammates.
"It was crazy how one swing of the bat changed a whole game," Shiner shortstop Paige Michalec said.
"I'm still kind of in shock," third baseman Alyssa Strauss said. "It was weird how something so dramatic changed the outcome of a game."
But one of the great things about sports is the opportunity for redemption.
Haas, a junior, has helped lead the Lady Comanches to their third straight trip to the state tournament. As a freshman in 2006, Haas was instrumental in Shiner's run to the state semifinals, where it lost to Clyde Eula.
Now the Lady Comanches (22-6) will return to Austin again Thursday for an 11 a.m. semifinal contest against Maud (25-10). Haas will step back onto the field where her season ended a year ago in disappointment.
"Overall, I think it has made her more competitive and confident," Shiner said of Haas, who will take a 22-5 record and 0.79 ERA into Thursday's game. "I think it taught her that you can't take anything for granted."
No disrespect to Maud, but Haas can't help but look ahead to see what team may be waiting for the Lady Comanches in Saturday's championship game.
In Thursday's earlier semifinal, Bosqueville (24-7) will face Clyde Eula (22-11). Shiner could face the team that beat them in last year's final or the team that ousted them in the 2006 semifinals.
It's no secret which team Haas and the rest of the Lady Comanches would like to face. "From the get-go this season, we've talked about playing Bosqueville again," Siegel said. Raygan Feight has graduated, but Bosqueville returns just about everyone else from last year's championship team.
But assuming Shiner gets past Maud, Haas could finally put "rise ball, outside corner" to rest and file away the DVD for good.
"I need to let it go," Haas said. "I do have a chance this year to erase it from my mind."