Four straight state tournament appearances for the Brock softball program.
That’s something to be proud about.
Unlike the previous two trips, the Eagles scored first, in the opening inning, but Emory Rains ended Brock’s season in the 3A state semifinals for the fourth straight year, 4-2, on Wednesday at McCombs Field.
Senior Payton Gasca reached on an error and scored from first base two batters later when Kelsi Tonips ripped a 2-2 pitch out of the stretching center-fielder to give Brock a 1-0 lead.
“That really boosted our confidence and got us pumped up,” said Tonips, who went 2-for-4.
But Rains, which was playing at state for the second year in a row, scored a run in each of the first four innings.
Leo Terry led off the bottom of the first with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice bunt by starting pitcher Chanlee Oakes (31-1), who allowed two unearned runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
Elissa Elliot hit a leadoff single in the second and scored a batter later on an RBI double from Catrin Hoffman. The Ladycats drew back-to-back walks with two outs in the third and a Sarah Coffman single to right made it 3-1. Presley McAree singled with two outs in the fourth and scored on an Oakes’ single for a 4-1 lead.
Brock got within 4-2 in the fifth inning when senior Landry Felts reached on a one-out error and advanced to third base on a single from Tonips. Senior Jessica Leek drove Felts in with an RBI groundout to short.
“It’s tough to lose four straight, but it’s also hard to get here,” Brock coach Ryan Starnes said. “One of our goals was to get back here when no one else thought we could. We have a lot of things to proud of for sure.”
The Ladycats led 2-1 in the second and were looking for more with the bases loaded and two outs, but McAree popped up to shallow left and Tonips made a diving catch for the last out.
“I knew we couldn’t afford to give up any more runs and I was confident I could go get it,” said Tonips, who pitched two innings of relief and allowed one hit with two strikeouts.
Rains (33-1), which won its 21st straight game, will play Hallettsville (37-1) in the 3A state championship at 6 p.m. Thursday.
For Brock (33-7), the four-year starters of Leek, Gasca and Felts became the first senior class to reach the softball state tourney four times. They won 128 games during their high school careers.
“They’re all my best friends,” Tonips said. “They play with so much heart and I love each and every one of them.”
“It’s a group that kept working hard,” Starnes added. “I didn’t know about the win total, but going to state four straight years hadn’t been before in this program. They’ll look back on this and be very proud.”