The bus ride home after a big win usually adds to the good times for a team.
After Kennedale defeated Iowa Park on Saturday to claim a spot in the regional semifinals, coach Amie Kirkpatrick decided to spread the good times a little more.
She and the Lady Wildcats stopped in Aledo on the way home to root on the West Lady Trojans in their Game 3 matchup with Burkburnett.
You're reading that correct: They stopped to cheer on a district rival fighting for its survival.
"I just want my girls to be fans of softball. I just want them to love the game," Kirkpatrick said. "I initially told them to watch the game and use it as some scouting time, but honestly the girls were so excited from our win they just started cheering and pulling for West."
West ultimately beat Burkburnett, keeping alive the possibility that the Trojans could meet Kennedale in next week's regional finals.
Kirkpatrick insists more teams should show support for district rivals, but it was in no way out of disrespect to Burkburnett.
"Burkburnett beat us last year in the playoffs so we know how good they are," she said. "We just played West very close in district both times this year and we had taken care of our business and wanted West to do their part."
Third baseman Kayla Jones saw it as a collegial level of respect for the players on the field.
"It was kind of like cheering for family, really," she said. "I mean, we're just supporting our district and really watching how good we have to be."
During the regular season, Kennedale and West battled to extra-innings in both meetings. Although West came out on top in both and won the District 8-3A title, Kirkpatrick said it was just indicative of how good both teams are and how hard the road to a state title is.
"Once those games were over last weekend, the focus is on Pampa," she said. "My girls know that the caliber of teams gets better each week, and watching West close out their series just reminded them of how good every team is."
Kennedale boasts a team in which every player in the regular lineup has an on-base percentage over .450, and Jones anchors strong defensive front.
Offensively, Amber Sather bats .444 and has hit four home runs. Freshman Jazlyn Crowder leads the team with a .449 batting average and another freshman, Allie Turner, hits .403.
Turner has also collected 11 wins with an 0.51 ERA and 146 strikeouts.
Kennedale's series against Pampa begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Wichita Falls. Game 2 is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Game 3, if necessary, is 30 minutes after Game 2.
Start and stop
It was a crazy weekend in which storms effected several regional quarterfinal series. The jostling and moving of times and games can seem like a mini-circus act.
Birdville and Burleson were forced into a one-game playoff Saturday after Friday's game was ultimately rained out.
Burleson coach Perry Young went from the likelihood of playing Friday, to getting two hours of solid rain that made the field unplayable.
After spending two hours on the telephone looking for a dry field to start Game 1, several volunteers showed up with bags of dry sand to get Burleson's field playable. A 6:30 p.m. start was pushed back one hour.
After Birdville scored two runs in the top half of the first inning, the game was halted by lightning with two outs in the top of the second.
A 1-hour, 10-minute lightning delay turned into a rainout when another 20 minutes of rain fell.
When the game resumed on Saturday at a dry Haltom field, Birdville went on to win 3-1.
Louisiana-Lafayette freshman Jordan Wallace of Weatherford was 25-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 159 strikeouts. The 12th-ranked Ragin' Cajuns will host an NCAA regional this weekend against Baylor, Stanford and Mississippi Valley State.
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