ROUND ROCK --- The playoff road for the Bosqueville Lady Bulldogs extended deep past the horizon, but it eventually stopped short of Austin.
Bosqueville fell into a four-run hole in the first inning and couldn’t climb out, losing to Shiner, 6-3, Thursday night in the Class 1A Region IV softball final at Round Rock McNeil High School.
"I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but those four runs early really killed us," Bosqueville coach Clint Zander said. "We were able to get some hits here and there, but we weren’t really able to string enough together to come all the way back."
Shiner (21-4) returns to the state tournament for the first time since 2002, while the Lady Bulldogs close the year at 17-9 in their quest to reach Austin for the first time since that same year.
In the end, it was the Lady Comanches’ first punch that proved to be the knockout blow. Shiner’s first five batters of the game reached base en route to the four-run outburst, with freshman pitcher Heather Haas delivering the key hit with a deep two- run double to left.
Haas (18-3) also proved equally as unfriendly to Bosqueville in the pitcher’s circle. Mixing in a variety of pitches, she fanned 12 batters and frequently pitched her way out of trouble.
"She’s tough," Zander said. "She throws that fastball up at your eyes and that’s really hard to lay off. The thing is, the more you see a pitcher like that, the better you do. I don’t want to say this, because it’ll sound like a coward, but I’m almost wishing we’d played a series, because I’d like another shot at her."
The Lady Bulldogs may have gone down, but they went down swinging. Bosqueville sliced into the lead with a single run in the bottom of the third. Ashley Barnes opened the inning by hugging a single inside the third-base line and into left field. Barnes then moved to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Caitlin Jackson that died right in front of the plate, and later swiped third base amidst a cloud of dust.
Two batters later, the Lady Bulldogs’ Grace Getman bounced a grounder that Shiner second baseman Megan Cejka bobbled while trying to pick it out of her glove, prompting Barnes to dart home with the team’s first run.
Down 5-1 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Bulldogs finally began to give their rowdy "Dog Pound" fans a reason to really bark. After a pair of strikeouts, Getman ripped a single and then Raygan Feight slapped a hard-hit base knock to left.
That brought up the team’s lone senior, Brittany Light, who delivered like a seasoned veteran. Light punched a roller through the infield that subsequently rolled through the Shiner centerfielder’s legs as well, allowing both runners to score easily and Light to motor all the way to third.
"Brittany is just a clutch player," Zander said. "She accepted her role this year as a designated hitter-type player, and she just got the job done all year long."
Bosqueville, despite flashes of brilliance, couldn’t sustain the comeback attempt. Getman got on base with a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but then the Lady Bulldogs’ best hitter Raygan Feight popped out to end the game.
Still, with nine freshmen on his roster, Zander couldn’t help but cast a hopeful eye to the future as this season ended.
"We’re excited about what we’ve got coming back," the coach said. "And I told the girls they’ve got nothing to hang our heads about, because they had a great run."