Dripping falls to Willis in state semifinals

 

 

Seniors Kiele Miller, Hayley Odell, Lexi Poehl and Sydney Campbell pose with Dripping Springs’ semi-finalist plaque at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Ausitn. CENTURY NEWS PHOTO BY ISHMAEL JOHNSON

By: 
Nick Castillo

 

AUSTIN — Dripping Springs’ postseason run came to an end Friday in its UIL 5A State Semifinal matchup against Willis.

LadyKats senior pitcher Casey Dixon kept the Tigers off balanced throughout the game. Meanwhile, Dripping Springs (35-9, 13-1 26-5A) allowed Willis (41-7, 13-3 20-5A) to score three runs in the opening inning en route to a 5-0 loss inside Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin. 

“It’s always disappointing when you lose, especially on this stage,” Tigers head coach Wade Womack said. “But if we’re going to lose, I guess you’d rather lose here in the state tournament.”

Dripping Springs can’t put its finger on what caused its rough start to Friday’s contest. Maybe it was nerves, or maybe it was nearly sold-out crowd of 1,079 split half in Dripping Springs maroon and half in Willis purple. Whatever the case, the LadyKats took advantage of back-to-back four pitch walks from Tiger ace pitcher Kiele Miller to begin the game.

Willis junior third base Samara Lagway ripped a double down the left field line to put the LadyKats up 2-0. Junior first base Suzy Lopez followed with an RBI single to push the Willis advantage to 3-0.

“It was just kind of tough when a team scores on you first in the first inning, it just takes a toll on the team but we didn’t lose complete faith on what happened,” senior first base Haley Odell said. “But it definitely affected our game.”

Dixon recorded four strikeouts in the first three innings and held Dripping Springs hitless until sophomore second base Cami Corona laid down a bunt single in the fourth inning. But the Tigers couldn’t bring Corona home.

Odell recorded a leadoff single in the fifth inning but she was left stranded.

Willis freshman center fielder Hannah Earls drew a leadoff walk in the bottom frame and a throwing error moved her to second. Junior shortstop McKenzie Parker hit a double off the right field wall to score Earls and push the LadyKat lead to 4-0. Dixon brought Parker home with a double to grab a 5-0 advantage.

Dripping Springs put a runner on in the sixth and two runners on in the seventh but it couldn’t cut into Willis’ lead and the Tigers season ended.

“I was wanting it for these girls more than I had ever wanted it for anything,” said Womack, who made his fifth appearance in the state tournament Friday and won a title with Medina Valley in 2007. “It just wasn’t meant to be. We faced a really good Willis team. They deserve to move on and we don’t.”

After ending the 2017 campaign Friday, Womack said he’ll miss his seniors.

“They were here my first year here when I took over for coach (Keith) Tuck and they’re a special group,” Womack said. “They welcomed me in and we’ve had a lot of great memories together. We had a great run last year. I’m glad they experienced what the state tournament is all about, and now they’re going to move on with their college careers and college academics. You know, I wish them nothing but the best. It’s a great group of girls.”

Despite the disappointing end to the season, the Tigers are happy with what they achieved in 2017.

“Obviously, we wanted to win but we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Miller said. “We haven’t been to state tournament since 2011, so we were pretty proud to bring us back.”

 

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