“It’s like when you’re teaching a little kid how to walk and they fall and fall and then they run. It is that kind of experience, an overwhelming sense of pride,” Coach Lee Ann Barker said.
For many of the players, they have played together for more than 10 years, so the foundation of teamwork they needed for a successful season was essentially a lifetime in the making. Senior Kaitlyn Roberts said it took a lot of hard work to make it happen.
This year’s lineup had only four senior players, pitcher and outfielder Haley Hinojosa, left-fielder Briana Ruiz, shortstop and pitcher Savannah Lopez, and Roberts as a utility player.
“We have been playing together for so long and have grown not only as teammates, but as friends,” Roberts said. “We put a lot of faith in God.”
The Lady Bulldogs started the season out strong with victories over Dilley and La Pryor on Valentine’s Day. Their next victory came just five days later against George West.
“I had a feeling we would go far,” Ruiz said.
They went on two have three more victories in a row on Feb. 21 against Pettus, Stockdale and Nixon-Smiley.
Sophomore Anissa Alvarez said the senior players had pep talks with the team to help each of the younger players improve throughout the season.
“We played more as a team than all four of my years in high school,” Ruiz said. “We didn’t play for ourselves; we played for the young ones.”
“It was a great experience for my freshman year,” freshman McKenzie Ruiz added.
Things got a bit shaky for the team in late February when they lost to Karnes and Woodsboro. But they came back swinging on Feb. 28, as they went on to beat Cotulla and Kenedy.
“It showed they were fighters and ready to come out and prove to everybody what they were made of,” Coach Dawn Dugger said.
After that, they had a winning streak of six games in a row, beating out Nixon-Smiley, Yorktown, Runge, Pettus, Kenedy and Falls City in the first half of March.
Their winning streak was interrupted by a loss to Woodsboro on March 20.
“We knew it was going to take sweat and crying and falling down and getting back up,” Barker said.
Then as March transitioned into April, the Lady Bulldogs had their second winning streak when pitted against Yorktown, Runge, Pettus and Kenedy.
“It is incomparable to last season,” Barker said. “I think, honestly, it would be comparing apples to oranges with the mentality to support each other.”
Their final win of the season earned their first playoff victory in seven years when they stomped the La Villa Cardinals 11-4.
“It’s been something we have wanted for so long,” Lopez said. “It was so different and exciting. What made me most happy was seeing all the fans and the people go out and support us.”
Ten players were named all-district this year. Barker said their names will be revealed once district play is complete.
“When things got tough we put our faith in God, this year,” Lopez said. “It’s been a good year. I’m sad to see it end.”