Struck out in state semis
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The Battlin’ Billies couldn’t bat their way past the semifinals.
Fredericksburg High School softball lost to the Huffman Hargrave Falcons, 4-0, during the UIL Class 4A State Semifinals on Thursday at the Red and Charlene McCombs Softball Field in Austin.
FHS managed two hits through seven innings and struck out in 15 of the team’s 22 plate appearances against Falcons junior pitcher Katy Janes.
The Falcons’ ace controlled the game from the start by striking out FHS’ first three batters on 12 pitches, with each count starting at 0-2.
“At my first at-bat, I quickly noticed that the pitcher had a lot of movement that was more than we had been seeing in past games,” sophomore outfielder Ashlyn Weinheimer said. “She threw a lot of rise balls, which is a very hard pitch to hit. As a hitter, you have to keep your hands high and hit the top of the ball.
Hargrave senior Dez Cardenas drew a leadoff walk during the bottom of the first inning and scored on an FHS throwing error to first base the following at-bat to take an early 1-0 lead.
The tough first inning left the Billies on the outside looking in even though they allowed only one run.
“We are a team where that first visitor inning kind of sets the tone for us,” coach Melissa Hall said. “When we went down 1-2-3, it was hard. The fact that 1-2-3 all struck out, that kind of made it really tough on the girls. Everybody behind them looked at it like, ‘Oh no, Madi (Findley), Mia (Torres) and Ashlyn (Weinheimer) all struck out. What am I going to do at the plate?’ That was tough. On defense, I think we had some nerves.”
The Falcons scored twice during the third on three hits, two steals and a wild pitch by FHS.
An additional run during the fourth put the Billies behind another run.
Offensive woes didn’t do the Billies any favors.
Janes and Hargrave’s defense held FHS hitless through five innings before the Billies recorded their first hit on junior Grace Duecker’s bunt.
Sophomore Ashley Dressen followed with an attempted sacrifice bunt that ended in a double play during the sixth.
The Billies’ next hit came with the team down to its final out. Weinheimer fought a 1-2 count to drive the ball through a gap in the infield to reach first.
However, the would-be FHS rally wasn’t meant to be.
Janes fanned the next batter to record strikeout No. 15 to end the ballgame and advance to the Class 4A final.
“Offensively, it was a huge blow (to start the game with three straight strikeouts),” Hall said. “We didn’t start hitting her until we had already gone through (the lineup) a couple of times. They had a very defeated attitude coming into the box. That part was tough.”
Hargrave handed FHS its first shutout since a 3-0 loss to Paris North Lamar on March
Prior to that, the Billies recorded at least two runs in 28 straight games.
“She was a very good pitcher,” Hall said. “I think some of it I felt that we are a little bit young in the box. We were swinging at pitches that I hadn’t seen the girls swing at in the last couple of weeks. Part of it was the atmosphere. Part of it was that they all wanted to step up and be that person to get on base for the team.
“Some of them were trying to do too much instead of taking what they were doing and using it against her.”
Defensively, FHS played as strong as they have throughout the postseason. The infield turned double plays in both the first and sixth innings of the game.
“I thought the pitchers did a great job,” Hall said. “I think Ella (Weinheimer) was a little nervous at the start, but the defense made plays behind her. Same thing with Emery. The defense made plays.”
FHS sophomore Ella Weinheimer started the game in the circle and pitched three innings, striking out two batters and allowing three earned runs.
Senior Emery Boettcher went three frames, allowed two hits and struck out one.
The Billies’ pitchers allowed six hits and two walks in six total innings pitched.
Ashlyn Weinheimer was the only FHS player named to the Class 4A All-Tournament team. She had one single at the plate and two putouts in left field.
“Being named all-tournament team really means a lot to me,” she said. “Being able to see all my hard work pay off for my team is incredible.
The Billies end the season 35-10, which includes the District 28-4A and Region IV-4A championships.
FHS also made their first state softball tournament appearance during coach Melissa Hall’s second season leading the program.
“It was fun. I think the girls and the coaches all knew that it was special,” Hall said. “I think we just tried to enjoy the moment for everything … tried to make it something they could remember. It was fun though. Being on the stage is surreal. I think that’s part of it. There are only four teams in 4A that got to do it, and I think that’s special.”
The outcome didn’t ruin the moment for FHS, who made history with just about every win during the postseason run.
“It was so special because I have played with all these girls for a very long and we all got along as a family,” said senior right fielder Kate Wenzel. “We all had one thing in common, which was that we all love the game of softball.”
The team loses six seniors to graduation: Mia Torres, Jessica Hardin, Morgyn Granville, AJ Davis, Boettcher and Wenzel.
Eleven players return with at least one year of eligibility: Duecker, Ashlyn Weinheimer, Ella Weinheimer, Dressen, Madilyn Findley, Karlie Nebgen, Reyes, Elizabeth Sebera, Olivia Findley, Jessica Stuewe and Kamryn Robinson.
Other state results
Hargrave went on to beat Anna, 12-0, in six innings to win the 4A championship Saturday.
Anna won a semifinal game against Decatur, 6-4, prior to the FHS-Hargrave game Thursday.
Janes, who’s committed to play for Houston Baptist, earned All-Tournament MVP honors for Class 4A. The junior only allowed three hits in two games pitched and finished the tournament with 26 total strikeouts.