High School Sports

From tragedy to fairytale ending: Forney has softball season to remember

Forney advances to state title game

Hannah Holdbrook had a huge defensive play in the fourth that helped Forney beat Barbers Hill in the 5A state semis.
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Hannah Holdbrook had a huge defensive play in the fourth that helped Forney beat Barbers Hill in the 5A state semis.

For the past 12 months, the softball team at Forney High School has suffered pain no one should experience. If you play, watch or cover softball in DFW, you should be familiar with their story.

It’s such an incredible journey, it ought to be a movie.

Emily Galiano, a freshman during the 2017 softball season, was killed after a team dinner when she was struck by a Jeep driven by a teammate. This came a few days before the Jackrabbits were set to play a three-game series against Mansfield Lake Ridge in the Class 5A Region II semifinals.

Galiano was a teammate, player, friend, family member, daughter and twin; her sister Madison Galiano played on the junior varsity team in 2017 while Emily was on varsity playing outfield.

Lake Ridge gave Forney players roses during Game 1. Colleyville Heritage was just one of a few schools that hosted softball playoff games and donated proceeds to the Galiano family.

Forney would lose Game 1 to Lake Ridge, but came back to advance to the regional finals vs. eventual state champ The Colony. Caroline Tedder, a junior then, hit a towering home run to left field in Game 3. Tedder's emotions got the better of her as she rounded second base.

Former Oklahoma softball great Lauren Chamberlain was among the many that tweeted or shared Forney’s story and what Emily meant to so many people.

Fast-forward to this season, and it was all about Em for Forney, so much so that the team's motto was "Play for Em."

The Jackrabbits had talent up and down the lineup to finish what it started in 2017. Tedder, Hannah Holdbrook, Trinity Cannon, Sam Coker, Savanna DesRochers, Vanessa Hollingsworth, Sadie Hewitt, Tatum Stover, Caleigh Cross – the list goes on. Cannon is a Texas A&M commit. DesRochers is committed to Kansas. Holdbrook is committed to Arkansas Monticello. You get the idea.

They ended their season with a 25-game winning streak, which was capped off with the Class 5A state title on Saturday. It was the program’s fourth trip to state, but first championship trophy. It didn't come easy.

Forney knocked out defending champ The Colony in the area round. During Game 2, the Jackrabbits turned a double play that clinched the sweep and 4-3 victory.

emily.jpg

Ironically they won by the same score and got the final out at third base again (both times the final throw came from Cannon) to clinch the regional final versus Hallsville.

Barbers Hill had the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth during a 1-0 deficit in the state semis on Friday. A hard hit went to Holdbrook in right and she was able to throw out the batter at first to help Forney keep the lead.

One of Forney's plays was so great that it made SportsCenter's Top 10. It happened in the state title game against Richmond Foster, which had two on and the tying run at the plate... with two outs.

A foul ball went down the third base line and looked to be unplayable. Running as fast as she ever has from left field, Tedder made the catch against the fence – her body nearly flipping over. Cross and Hollingsworth instantly realized the ball was in her glove and the celebration was on.

It was the No 2. play on SportsCenter.

DesRochers was named tourney MVP and made the state all-tournament team with Cannon, Cross, Tedder, Holdbrook and Coker.

Forney finished 33-6.

The entire team took a trip to see Emily after the win. Madison placed the state medal on her sister’s tombstone.

"Sis likes the bling," she said.

You couldn't write a better script. It’s your move Hollywood.

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