All the seniors for the Shiner Lady Comanches and Weimar Ladycats have something in common. They've made the playoffs every year of their careers, and they've seen each other there every time.
"When you're in the same district and the last four years you've met in the state (playoffs), you definitely have to call it a rivalry," said Shiner head coach Steven Cerny. "They're friends off field, but come game time, you're battling each other."
For the fourth consecutive year, Shiner (27-4) and Weimar (19-11-2) will meet in the regional final. Game 1 is 7 p.m. Thursday at Texas Lutheran in Seguin, Game 2 is 2 p.m. Saturday at La Grange and Game 3, if necessary, will follow Game 2.
The Lady Comanches and Ladycats split the regular season series, and Shiner beat Weimar 2-1 on April 22 to decide the District 28-2A top playoff seed.
Shiner swept last year's best-of-three series en route to a state championship. Weimar swept the 2013 and 2014 regional finals and won the state title each time.
"Both teams do a good job of putting the ball in play," Cerny said. "One play can turn anything around. They have athletes like we have, and you never know what will happen."
Case in point - this year's regular season. Weimar won 7-2 visiting Shiner before the Lady Comanches romped 15-6 on the Ladycats' home field. Pitcher Cece Darilek edged her counterpart Darrian Smith in the 2-1 Shiner win for the district top seed. Darilek threw a complete game with one earned run on a three hits with seven strikeouts and four walks. Smith went six innings, gave up two earned runs on seven hits, struck out three and walked three.
"She does a real good job of hitting her spots," Cerny said of Darilek. "She's not an overpowering pitcher, but she has a lot of trust in her defense. We put a lot of work into defense every day."
Last year, Cerny said the pressure of the playoffs was offset by his team's youthful excitement.
"I think their approach to the game has changed a lot. When they were young, their eyes were wide open, and they were living from day to day," Cerny said. "(This year) they're able to settle down and relax a lot more. At same time, they have the same energy as last year, and that's very important."
Anybody, Cerny said, can spark the Shiner lineup in any game. Last week, Kailey Williams had a three-run home run in Game 1 of a two-game sweep of Riviera, and Darilek, Bethany Nevlud and Kassidy Bishop each had two hits in that contest.
Hallettsville to play one game for state bid
Hallettsville has not lost a game in more than a month. The Lady Brahmas' next chance to extend the streak will either send them home or on to the state tournament.
Hallettsville(30-2) takes on Santa Gertrudis Academy (27-9) in a one-game regional final 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Mary's University in San Antonio.
Hallettsville's two losses came to Region III-4A finalist La Grange. The Lady Brahmas swept San Diego, 5-1 and 7-3, in a best-of-3 regional semifinals. Santa Gertrudis topped Florence 4-0 and 6-0 for their semifinal series win.
Both recording a complete-game victory over San Diego, Coco Caraway brought her ERA to 0.85, while Rylee Trlicek owns a 1.71 ERA.
Cuero's historic run continues against Needville
Cuero has already made school history with the program's first-ever appearance in the regional semifinals. Needville stands between the Lady Gobblers and the state tournament.
Cuero (27-7) and Needville (23-15) square off in a best-of-three series at Weimar. Game 1 is 7 p.m. Thursday, Game 2 is 1 p.m. Saturday and Game 3, if necessary, will follow Game 2.
Cuero swept a best-of-three against Rockport-Fulton, 3-0 and 6-4, in the regional final. Lady Gobblers pitcher Regan Dunn totaled 22 strikeouts in 14 innings over two games, while Courtney Clark finished the series 5-for-8.
Needville has already fallen to one area team. The Lady Jays dropped a 5-2 warm-up game April 26 to Hallettsville, striking out nine times. Pitcher Sarah Adams gave up nine hits and four earned runs in five innings in a losing effort.
Chris Derrett is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org