Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

May 16, 2013

GC Softball: Finally Soaring: Eagles have history, injuries behind them

MILDRED — When Mildred fell in Game 1 to Salado two weeks ago, it may have been “here we go again” for the Eagles. For the second straight season, they had gone undeafeated in district, and expectations were high.

The Eagles had received a bye in the first round, and for once they had their sights set on school history ... which would mean at least four playoff rounds.

The Salado loss was Game 1 of round two.

“We knew what we had to fix,” senior Olivia Farmer said. “Coach (Billy Dan) Chambliess gave us his famous ‘winners find ways to win’ speech.’”

Famous?

“Every playoff game,” Farmer chuckled.

They’ll get to hear it again Friday night, when the eighth-ranked Eagles (27-8) face defending state semifinalist Garrison (20-8) in Game 1 of a Best of 3 series in Lindale. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Games 2 and 3, if necessary, will take place Saturday, same place, with a first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m.

The Eagles lost in the second round, or area, last year. They came back and won two games to move on this time around.

“These girls have a lot of fight in them,” Chambliess said. “We could have bowed out of that Salado series, but we didn’t.”

Friday represents a third goal reached.

“We have high expectations,” Farmer said. “We wanted to be undefeated in district, and we wanted to be the team to go the farthest in the playoffs in team history.”

Check, and check.

“Now, it’s just one round at a time,” junior Aubyn Turner said.

“And, we wanted to go further than the boys,” junior Callie Bland said. “We’ve never done that.”

Now they have.

Mildred’s baseball team traditionally plays three or four rounds deep. In 2008, the Eagles played for a state championship. This year, they fell in the first round of the playoffs.

The girls found themselves carrying the school’s mantle.

But it didn’t come easy.

They have battled injuries. Joanna Tapley had surgery in the summer but was ready to go by the season. Bland has a torn labrum that kept her confined to batting duties for all but the final eight games. She has settled in at shortstop, and the Eagles have settled in on the field.

“We had some injuries, and some people had to step up and do things they haven’t before,” sophomore catcher Morgan McCreary said.

The only inconstancies now are on the mound, unless you count juggling pitchers routinely as consistent. Chambliess has three he can go to, and go to he just might at any time.

“We might change a pitcher during an at bat,” Chambliess laughed.

Tapley, Turner and Farmer are Mildred’s three hurlers. They man three spots on the field, depending on who is pitching. Tapley plays third when not pitching, Turner right field, and Farmer ... right field or third.

Last week, when a three game series was reduced and one-game, winner-take-all affair with Bruceville-Eddy, the Eagles delivered, beating the then seventh-ranked team in the state, 8-4.

“We played well early (in the year), then we went through a slump,” Chambliess said. “You could tell we really hadn’t peaked, but we’re playing well again.

“We’re finally beginning to gel a little.”

Winners do find a way to win.

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