The 2019 Anna softball team will go down as the best in program history.
The Coyotes made history by reaching the program’s first softball state tournament, but they ran into Houston Baptist commit Katy Janes and Huffman Hargrave in the 4A state championship game Saturday at McCombs Field.
“From finishing fifth in district last year to going to the state tournament, it’s a big deal, and I told the girls to be proud of themselves,” Anna coach Lindsey Gage said. “They did something a lot of kids will never experience; playing on this field in this atmosphere, it’s special. I told them to enjoy it, have fun and soak it all in.”
Janes, who was voted 4A state title game MVP, finished off a brilliant state tournament performance with a one-hit shutout as the Falcons won 12-0 in six innings for their second title. Their first came in 2015.
“Team played amazing, and I couldn’t ask any more from them,” Janes said. “We have a monument of the 2015 championship outside our field that we walk by every single day, and it’s a reminder of what we want to accomplish, and to say we added one of our own now, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Janes struck out 11 batters. She threw a two-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts during Thursday’s 4-0 win over Fredericksburg.
“Tried to get ahead of every batter,” she said. “I trusted my defense and got a lot of run support. Ultimately, I felt really comfortable in the circle, and I think it showed.”
The Falcons jumped on the Coyotes early with three runs in the opening frame.
Alli Humphries walked and stole second before scoring on a Hagen Pike single to center. Janes followed up with an RBI double, and Christin Haygood added another RBI single.
Anna’s lone senior, Hannah Howell, who will play at Northwestern Oklahoma State, settled in the second inning with a pair of strikeouts. She finished with seven.
Janes continued to help herself out when she blasted a 230-foot, two-run home run in the third to make it 5-0. Bella Reid walked, and Haygood singled before Kenzie Gates’ RBI single to center made it 6-0.
Janes had a no-hitter through four innings, until Shelby Dombrowski laid down a bunt to open the fifth. An RBI triple from Gates sparked another three-run inning in the top half of the frame.
The Falcons scored three more in the sixth on a two-run error and an RBI single from Kyndel Berard.
Anna, which was trying to win the school’s first title in any sport since 1968, finishes with a 25-9-1 record. The Coyotes’ previous playoff appearance came in 2014.
“I hope this gives the younger kids hope,” Gage said. “We’re kind of a town that no one thought could do this, but we did something big today, and these kids left a big legacy behind.
“Hannah (Howell) is special. Her heart, talent and drive is all you could ever want as a coach, and I’m glad she got to experience this.”
“We built a foundation. We believed in winning, and I know all these girls will be back and ready next year, and they’ll work hard and do whatever it takes to get back here,” added Howell, who finishes 23-9. “From not making the playoffs the past three years to being second in state, I’m so proud of not only this team, but how our town supported us. I’m proud of us as a whole for making history.”