The Glen Rose Lady Tigers are making softball history this season, and have a chance to get past the area round of the playoffs for the first time ever.
The Lady Tigers swept Krum 2-0 in their best-of-three playoff series last week. They opened that series with a 13-9 win at Krum on April 25, followed by last Saturday’s 6-5 triumph at home over the Lady Bobcats.
That sent the Lady Tigers into the area playoff round for only the fourth time in school history. Their best-of-three series against Big Spring, to be played at Abilene Christian University, was scheduled to begin Thursday, May 2 (7 p.m.). Game 2 was set for 2 p.m. Saturday. If Game 3 is needed, it will be Saturday, May 4, starting at 4 p.m.
The Lady Tigers (20-13-1) reached the 20-win mark for the first time in school history, led by head coach Kiel Miller.
The Lady Tigers have only two seniors on the roster — Courtney Morris and Tatum Stegint. Both are four-year varsity veterans.
Stegint set a school record for career home runs when she had two bombs Thursday at Krum. That gave her 16 for her career, and she is tied for the single-season GRHS mark of seven.
“It’s definitely been a team effort,” Stegint said. “We’ve gone through a lot as a team. Being my senior year, it makes me happy.
“We’re such a determined team. Everything we do, we do together, and we feed off each other.”
Pitcher Taylor McKenzie also provided a record-setting performance this season when she set a new single-game strikeout mark for GRHS softball, with 12 to top the previous record of 11.
Morris, a utility player who can fill roles in the outfield, second base and as a pitcher, said, “I’m really excited. There are no words to describe how happy we all are. I think we were wanting it more than they did, and it showed.”
None of the Big Spring game results were available by press time, and a forecast of widespread thunderstorms and even tornado watches throughout the area could have forced unforeseen changes. District 5 champion Big Spring is coming in with a 19-5 record after winning two out of three from Iowa Park in their bi-district playoff series.
The Lady Tigers, the third-place team out of District 7-4A, previously won bi-district to reach the area round in 2011, 2014 and 2015. The 2019 season marks their sixth time in the playoffs. Their only district championship was in 2014.
“This is something we haven’t done in a long time,” Miller said.
But Miller quickly turned his focus on the next task, not dwelling on the past.
“Nobody cares about that but us. We’ve got to understand that,” Miller said. “We’re getting excited to win, but we can’t look back at what we’ve done. We have to be grounded. At the end of the day, it’s about what we do.
“We played a tough non-district schedule to get ourselves ready. That’s showing up right now. We’re playing hard, hitting the ball well.”
The winner of the Glen Rose-Big Spring series will advance to the area playoff round next week against either Godley or Burkburnett.
Glen Rose fans had to be on the edge of their seats in Saturday’s win over Krum when the Lady Bobcats scored three runs in the final two innings with help from a couple of errors, cutting the Glen Rose lead from 6-2 down to 6-5. But Taylor McKenzie, who pitched the final four frames in relief of starter Addison Nance, closed the door on the rally.
McKenzie was 3-for-4 a the plate with two runs batted in on a pair of doubles and a triple. Teammate Belle McDonald was also 3-for-4, with one double and two singles.
Stegint doubled, and Alexis Drugan and Nance also had hits for the Lady Tigers.
Three runs scored while McKenzie was pitching, but none was earned. She gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked only one.
Nance allowed two runs, both earned, on five hits in three innings. She walked three.
The heavy-duty offensive fireworks were in Thursday’s win over Krum, when Stegint slammed her two solo homers, and Belle McDonald and Nance also cleared the fence with bombs.
McKenzie, who was 2-for-2 with a double, drove in three runs as did Belle McDonald, who was 2-for-5. Nance and Stegint each had two RBI. Drugan had two hits, and Kaylee McDonald had one RBI.
The starting pitcher, Taylor McKenzie, did not get the win but struck out 12 in six innings. She allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits and walked only one.
Nance, the winning pitcher, worked one inning and gave up four runs on three hits while striking out one and walking two.