WEIMAR - Kathy Shedd knew her girls were going to face a well-coached, fundamentally sound softball team that didn't beat themselves.
That's why the Burton softball coach stressed the importance of scoring first in Tuesday's Class 1A bi-district contest. Few could have anticipated just how early and how frequently Burton would score against the reigning state champions from Shiner.
By the time the Comanches gathered themselves they stared at a 7-0 hole. That deficit proved to be insurmountable as the Lady Panthers beat Shiner 11-5.
"The key for us (Tuesday night) was. we had to come out aggressive and score first. Let's do our thing." Shedd said. "When we get on the bases we are going to run them and we're going to force them to make the plays and hopefully force them into a couple errors. We had the momentum on our side after a couple passed balls and a couple errors."
Though it had just four hits, Burton (15-9) reached base 13 other times due to eight Shiner walks and five errors.
"We were trying to approach it like any other game," said Shiner right fielder Cassie Stafford, one of five seniors on the team. "Unfortunately it didn't turn out for us. They made plays when we didn't. We battled all the way to the end, but it didn't turn out the way we wanted."
Though it's never easy to lose, especially when not playing one's best, Shiner head coach Brandon Siegel said he can live with mistakes made trying to make a play as opposed to mental lapses.
"The first couple innings maybe there was some pressure or pre-game jitters. It's aggressive mistakes, its not like it was a lazy mistake, they were being aggressive," Siegel said. "That one we throw away at first we were trying to make a play. It just so happens that it gets away and three runs score. It's a kid going out there trying to make a play and it didn't turn out as we expected."
Nevertheless, Shiner (13-8) didn't go down without a fight.
Senior Jordan Pietsch singled in the bottom of the second to start a rally. Megan Chumchal followed Pietsch's hit with one of her own. Two batters later Stacey Perez beat out a grounder to short to extend the second inning.
A Ryah Michalec double cleared the bases, cutting the Shiner deficit to 7-4. However, that is as close as the Comanches would come.
"It felt good to get on base and start something for the team," Stafford said after getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. "We felt like we were on a roll."
The loss ended the varsity careers of Stafford, Pietsch, Michalec, Perez and Nicholle Tieken. All of them contributed to the 2011 state championship team, while the first three were managers on the 2008 team that won a state title.
Siegel said young women like that don't come around all the time.
"They knew the expectations of what it takes to win and how you have to perform to win," Siegel said of his seniors. "They kept that throughout the years. They did a good job of leading, they were not real vocal leaders, but they lead through actions."
Will Brown is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6508, or by e-mail at email@example.com.