GLEN ROSE – Look at it through rose-colored glasses, turn it upside down on its head or dissect it with mountains of statistical data, but make no mistake about it – the 2016 season did not go according to plan for the Glen Rose Lady Tiger softball team.
Under eighth-year Glen Rose Head Coach Kiel Miller, the Lady Tigers have qualified for the postseason four times – 2011 and 2013-15. Three of those seasons have been with the seven senior Lady Tigers set to graduate in May.
“This senior group is one of the better groups that I have had in terms of leadership,” said Miller in an interview before the season opening tournament in Clifton, “especially with the number of young girls we have coming back. […] I expect to make the playoffs and I expect to win the bi-district round, as well.”
Instead, (11-18, 5-9) Glen Rose and its senior class of seven missed the playoffs entirely. The Lady Tigers finished tied with Rio Vista for fifth place in the District 11-3A standings – two full games behind fourth place Hillsboro for the district’s final playoff spot.
The Lady Tigers reached nearly half of their win total during a 5-2 start to the season – with three of those wins coming in the Clifton Lady Cub tournament. Miller’s Lady Tigers dropped the first round game to the host team, 15-2, but then bounced back for three-straight wins by a combined score of 48-21.
Glen Rose defeated Franklin (18-0), Bruceville-Eddy (21-14), and Scurry-Rosser (9-7), with the latter coming in walk-off fashion. Senior Madi Gibson blasted the second of her eventual-school-record tying five home runs off of the left-field scoreboard.
The Lady Tigers then returned to their home confines for the inaugural Hannah Morales Memorial Tournament. An opening round loss to Paradise was followed by wins over Ranchview and Tolar before bowing out with two-straight losses.
It was then, at Granbury’s Lady Pirate Softball Classic, that the losses started to stack up – and in a hurry. Glen Rose finished the Granbury tournament 1-5 after four consecutive losses to 5A teams.
But those 5A teams were just the warm-up. It is well known how strong the teams in 11-3A are and the 2016 softball season was further proof in the pudding. At several points throughout the season, multiple combinations of Brock, Peaster, Grandview and Hillsboro could be found ranked in the Texas Girls’ Coaches Association’s top-25 polls.
There was even a three-week stretch were all four were ranked in the top-12 with Brock grabbing the No. 2 ranking it still holds today.
“I think that was a big contributing factor [to our record],” Miller said. “Any time you are in a district with four teams that are in the top-20 in the State at different points of the year and at times two or three of those are in the top-10 it makes it tough. It was difficult.
“A couple of the teams in the district had move-in pitchers with experience and that makes it even more difficult,” he continued. “Our girls played as hard as they could and played to their ability. You can’t fault them for getting beat by teams that are probably a little better. Could we have beaten some of those teams? Possibly.”
Five wins scattered across 14 games later and the Lady Tigers were on the outside of the playoff picture looking in for the first time since 2012 and fourth time in Miller’s eight season as the skipper.
“It has been a great run with this group of seniors,” Miller said. “Like I said at the athletic banquet, this is the most successful group of girls who have ever come through Glen Rose High School on the softball side of things. A lot of it comes from the fact that they have played a lot of softball before getting to high school, but then they were thrust onto the field as freshman. The fact that five of the seven seniors have started pretty much every ballgame at the varsity level since their freshman year is amazing.
“They went through their growing pains as freshman, but anytime they made a mistake they learned from it and grew into great softball players,” Miller continued. “They had to take a lot on the chin as freshman. […] But as far as this senior group goes, it’s been a blast.”
The senior class won’t leave without etching their names in the Lady Tiger record books. Despite the overall record, there were individual records that fell – quite a few of them, in fact.
Stats, records and more from Glen Rose Head Coach Kiel Miller can be found in next week’s Reporter.