Down by five runs in the sixth inning of the regional final, Texoma Christian head softball coach Mark Ellison had a message for his team.
“I just told them that they need to believe in each other,” he said. “We have to get together and turn this thing around.”
The Lady Eagles heeded that message and rallied to defeat Temple Central Texas Christian, 8-6, in the TAPPS Division IV regional final Saturday in Burleson. They pulled it off by scoring seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning after trailing 6-0 at one point of the game and earned a trip to the state tournament.
“At the beginning of the game, I thought we were all kind of down,” said freshman catcher Tinsley Love. “To experience something like that (comeback) is phenomenal.”
“We loaded the bases in the fourth and fifth inning and scored only one run,” Ellison said. “I started to ask if this was this hill too steep to climb or if we’re we going to be all right. It looks we were all right.”
The Lady Eagles move on to face Bryan St. Joseph Catholic in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Crosby. If they win, they would face the winner of Shiner St. Paul and Bellville Faith on Thursday for the championship.
It is the second straight year that the Lady Eagles have made it to state and the fourth time in program history.
For sisters Bri and Bailey Yale, it also represents the first opportunity to play in the state tournament together. Bri is a freshman on this year’s team while older sister Bailey is a junior.
“It feels great to make it,” Bri said. “I’m also really excited because I get to do it with my sister.”
As for Bailey, she has extra motivation after starting in the circle as the Lady Eagles’ pitcher last year.
“I definitely want to do better this year,” she said. “I just don’t want to make it there; I want to go win it. I get to play with my friends and sister and that makes it sweet.”
In the three previous appearances at state, TCS has never made it to the championship game. But after eliminating the same team that knocked the Lady Eagles out a year ago, they’re confident that they can clear the next hurdle and bring a title back to Texoma.
“We just have to play our game and keep it simple,” Love said. “I know we can do it.”
“I’m going in with a lot more confidence this year,” Bailey Yale said. “It would mean everything to win it for my school, my family and for God.”
The confidence is something that Ellison likes to seeing but he also wants his team to take in everything and enjoy the final chapter of what could be a title-winning season.
“I want them to enjoy this moment,” Ellison said. “We have four seniors and this is it for them. I’ve told the team to enjoy it, be humble and be thankful to the Lord for what he has done for us. Somebody’s got to win so go out and play your hardest.”