Lady Broncos are last team standing

Posted Monday, May. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Both Timberview and Legacy began the postseason with high expectations. After two rounds of the playoffs, Legacy’s dream is still alive while the Lady Wolves are forced to reflect over one of the best seasons in the program’s history, but one they feel ended too soon.

Meanwhile, the Mansfield softball team was swept from the area round by Lewisville.

Timberview entered the playoffs on an 18-game winning streak and boasting an unblemished 14-0 run to the District 7-5A title. The Lady Wolves continued their impressive play with a two-game sweep of Copperas Cove in the bi-district round of the playoffs. A week later, they took Game 1 in their area round matchup against Flower Mound Marcus. But that would be their last taste of victory this season, as Marcus stormed back to take games 2 and 3.

“We drew a tough draw in the second round of the playoffs,” Lady Wolves coach Donya Mooney said. “If [Marcus pitcher Hannah Null] is healthy for the last five district games, they win their district and we wouldn’t have caught them quite so early.”

But with a healthy ace pitcher, the Lady Marauders were a tough out. Still, Timberview clawed to a 2-0 victory in Game 1, despite having only three hits. The Lady Wolves were aided by a trio of Marcus errors, and freshman sensation Mariah Denson tossed a shutout.

“We knew we had to take Game 1, Mooney said. “Our whole game plan was to put the ball in play and make the rest of the team step up and make plays. If we could do that we knew we had a chance. You couldn’t go and let Hannah [Null] strike out 90 percent of the batters, so our whole thing was to find a way to put the ball in play and we did that several times.”

“In Game 2, we were unable to do that, and we made so many defensive errors that the wheels fell off,” she added. “We regrouped for Game 3 and went in with the mindset that this is it – we’ve had a great season and let’s go in and do what we do and play our best. If the outcome is in our favor, then we move on. If it’s not, we know we’ve had a great season.”

Timberview scored first, but ultimately came out on the short end, 4-2.

“We had an opportunity. We weren’t ready to quit; we weren’t ready to park the bus and be done,” Mooney said.

And though the season didn’t last as long as they’d hoped, the Lady Wolves still have plenty to reflect fondly on from their record-setting, district championship season.

“We rewrote all the record books this year,” Mooney noted. “We had more wins than Timberview softball has ever had, and Mariah had 20 wins as a freshman in the circle.”

“I’m very proud of the season we had,” four-year starter Ashley Tharp said. “We came a really long way from where we were.”

For Tharp, it’s more than just the end of a season, but the end of a career. “To finish out my senior year going deeper into the playoffs than I have before, it was a great four years.”

“The finality of it all is saddening, but the reality of it was that Marcus was a little bit better team,” Mooney said. “As long as we knew when we walked off that field that we gave it our best and just came up a little bit short, we were OK with that. The loss wasn’t OK, but the effort was there. There were tears, because this group is so special and they’ll never play together again, but they walked off the field knowing that they gave a good effort and they were proud.”

Meanwhile, Legacy is still looking to see just how far this Lady Broncos team can go. They’ve made no bones all season that this could be the best squad in school history – even considering three years ago the Lady Broncos were just one game away from the state tournament.

“We’ve thought that from day one,” head coach Michelle Mayfield said. “With the experience that we had coming back and with the pitching staff that we have put together, our goal all year has been to go the state tournament and to go further than any Legacy or Mansfield ISD team has gone.”

What at times looked like a season that would be marred by injuries and adversity is now shaping up to be a tale of that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The team embodies its motto of “play for each other.”

“People have had to step up; people have been put into roles they weren’t accustomed to and they’ve definitely stepped up to the challenge,” Mayfield said. “This team as a whole has continued to do that all season long. We’re kind of now finally getting back to where we’re almost 100 percent healthy and hopefully we’ll continue to reap the benefits of the struggles and obstacles that we’ve overcome all year.”

Junior pitcher Ryan Wright is one of those asked to step up, especially in the absence of pitcher Kendall Potts, who missed almost two months of the season with a wrist injury.

“It’s forced a lot of people to have to step up and learn how to play other positions,” Wright said. “It’s given us more confidence. If we can keep focused and doing what we’re doing, we’ll make it far.”

Legacy entered the postseason as runners-up in District 15-4A and have yet to lose a playoff game, sweeping both Corsicana and Hallsville in the first two rounds.

Senior captain Courtney Hart feels like the Lady Broncos’ road won’t end short of the state tournament.

“We’re just getting stronger as it goes on, so I have no doubt we’ll keep going at it,” Hart said. “I just see us going to state, no doubt about it. There’s no reason why we can’t. Just how this team gels and works together, we all want the same goal and nothing can stop us.”

Three years ago the Lady Broncos lost to Denton Guyer in the region finals. Several of the seniors on this year’s squad were part of that team, and draw strength from those experiences.

“Not only from the 2010 experience, but from the last two seasons of basically having the same team we had in 2010 but not reaching as far as we’d expected,” Mayfield said. “I think they’ve really taken those experiences and brought them together and really figured out the key ingredients and what we need to do.”

Freshman pitcher Karlie Milburn admits she has leaned on the senior leadership.

“They just tell us to keep that mental focus, because we can go far with the talent we have this year,” she said.

Mayfield agrees that all the talent is in place, and it’s a matter of mastering the mental side that can take this team to Austin.

“You just have to make sure you keep your team focused and hungry. We’ve got solid defense, we put the ball in play, we’ve got a solid combination of speed and power and when things are working, we can be very successful. It’s just, at this level, keeping them focused all seven and innings and all 21 outs.”

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