Lady Tigers advance to state tourney

 

Lady Tigers Softball celebrate win

By: 
Nick Castillo, Sports Reporter

 

WEIMAR — Kiele Miller was overcome with emotions when she recorded the final strikeout to secure a 4-3 win over Richmond Foster on Friday to advance Dripping Springs to the state tournament.

After the Tigers dropped the opening game Thursday against the Falcons, 3-2, the senior pitcher led Dripping Springs to a 1-0 win in game two of the best-of-three series Friday with seven strikeouts in a complete game shutout. Miller returned in relief in game three to settle the team down, and recorded seven strikeouts in four innings of relief to help lead Dripping Springs to the comeback series win.

“This first thought I had was, ‘Wow, I can’t even believe it,’” Miller said. “We’ve worked for this for four years. Our goal has been 28 (wins to get to State) for two years and we’re finally going. I don’t know. it’s over-joying, like, I started crying when we won. I don’t know. It’s just an amazing feeling.”

Drippings Springs (35-8, 13-1 26-5A) relied on its challenging path in the playoffs to overcome the 1-0 series deficit against Foster (34-4, 10-1 27-5A). Miller recalled the Tigers regional quarterfinals series against Austin where they dropped the opening game but bounced back with two wins to advance in the playoffs. Drippings Springs carried that same rallying mentality into Friday’s games.

“We’ve gone through not failure but loss before like the Austin High game,” Miller said. “We kind of just started thinking, ‘Okay, it’s one loss, we’ve dealt with losses before.’ That Austin High team wasn’t used to losing so we had that advantage that we were going to win the second game and if we won that second game we would win the third game. That was kind of the same thing here, they haven’t lost a lot this season. They haven’t really played the people we’ve played this year. So, we knew if we won that second game, we had that third game in the bag.”

Both pitchers — Miller and Foster’s ace Kacie Pryor — kept their opponents off balance to begin game two at Weimar High School. But the Tigers took advantage of a leadoff single from junior shortstop Riley Dunn in the fourth inning when an RBI groundout from junior right fielder Danielle Northrup gave Dripping Springs a 1-0 lead.

Northrup’s RBI was all the Tigers needed to force the decisive game three.

Foster jumped ahead in the bottom of the first in game three after left fielder Ciarra Mata drew a walk and a fielders choice and a sac-fly from Pryor gave them a 1-0 lead. Dripping Springs answered in the second inning when sophomore third base Ryann Campbell hit a double and Northrup hit an RBI single to even the score.

The Falcons, however, staged a big third inning when they loaded the bases. Despite the Tigers’ move to bring in Miller back into the circle, Foster brought two runs home to grab a 3-1 lead.

But Dripping Springs rallied in the fifth when Dunn and Miller hit back-to-back singles and an RBI single from senior first base Haley Odell cut the Falcon advantage down to 3-2. Sophomore catcher Bailey Hudgeons followed with an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3.

The Tigers struck in the top of the seventh when an error allowed Hudgeons to reach first. Campbell ripped a ball into right for an RBI triple to give Dripping Springs’ its first lead of game three.

“Honestly, I was really nervous after our second game,” Campbell said. “I was just like, ‘Okay, I need to somehow find a way to the run score or just get on base to help my team out.’ So, I mean, when she pitched me outside I was like, ‘Okay, the only way to get on base or move the runner is to go with the pitch,’ and that’s what I did.”

Miller recorded two strikeouts in the bottom frame and Dripping Springs secured its first state tournament berth since 2011 with the 4-3 game three win.

 “I told the girls in the fifth or sixth inning,  ‘At some point our offseason is going to pay off: All of those track workouts, lifting weights, sweating on the field and it happened.,’” head coach Wade Womack said. “I think at the end what got us through that is the tough times we had in the offseason. I’m super proud of these girls.”

Dripping Springs takes on the winner of Forney and The Colony on Thursday in the UIL State Semifinals at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin.

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