Thorndale Lady Dogs set for first State Tournament appearance
The No. 2 Thorndale Lady Dogs (32-5) are headed to the State Softball Tournament for the first time in program history. They punched their ticket after sweeping No. 8 Weimar in a best-of-three series last week in La Grange in the Class 2A Region IV finals.
The Lady Dogs will play No. 3 Windthorst (32-6) in the State Semifinals at noon on Wednesday. No. 1 Crawford (34-3) and No. 4 West Sabine (31-5) played the other State Semifinal at 9 a.m. Games will be played at McCombs Field on the University of Texas at Austin campus.
The Class 2A State Title game is set for 3 p.m. Thursday back at McCombs Field.
Thorndale is 10-0 in their postseason run and have outscored opponents in those five rounds 116-20.
The Lady Dogs are on a 24-game winning streak, one of the hottest teams in the state.
Windthorst defeated Archer City 11-1 in the third game of a best-of-three series on Saturday to win the Region I title. This is the fifth state tournament appearance for Windthorst, who won its last 11 regular season games and has gone 9-2 in the postseason.
This Lady Dogs team works as hard as any other, if not more, but they add a lot of fun and a splash of sass to make the team special according to Thorndale head coach Lance Betak.
“These girls have put a lot of hard work into this year, but they have had a lot of fun doing it too. I have enjoyed this year because the girls are really good, and they are a lot of fun to be around and coach.”
In each of the last eight seasons, Thorndale had lost in the playoffs to either Weimar or Shiner. Thorndale took down the later in a round three sweep.
“They were a thorn in our side over the past six or seven years, and to beat them by run rule twice was pretty awesome,” Coach Betak said
The Lady Dogs scored 35 run in the two games against Weimar, winning a whopping 21-6 on Thursday and 14-4 on Friday. Both games were called early by the 10-run rule after five innings of play.
Weimar had defeated Charlotte it its regional semifinals contest.
On Thursday night, Thorndale jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first and 8-0 after two. Then they opened the flood gates in the third, doubling up their score to 16. Weimar put up three in the bottom of that inning to make it 16-3.
The Lady Dogs tacked on five more runs in the top of the fifth with the Lady Cats adding three of their own, but it wasn’t enough. Thorndale would run rule Weimer 21-6 in five innings.
The Lady Dogs recorded 15 hits in the game and committed just two errors defensively.
Weimar had collected eight hits, and had just as many errors.
Riley White tossed another great game for Thorndale, earning the win with three strike outs and two walks.
Emilee Baker went four for five in this game and was eight of nine in the series. The freshman scored six times against the Lady Cats.
Madison Flores went three-for-four on Thursday with three RBIs. Kate Casey, Jacey Paulsen and White each had two hits apiece, with Casey ripping a triple. Both Paulsen and White connected for doubles.
Kelsey Kovar and Ashton Kiesling also recorded hits and Jayci Martinka crossed home plate four times. Hannah Laurence and Ava Vicknair each scored twice, with Laurence swiping two bases. Lauren Newton and Reahyn Trahan both scored runs as well.
Thorndale completed the series sweep on Friday night, winning 14-4 in six innings.
After getting behind 4-1 early, the Lady Dogs scored 13 unanswered runs.
Weimar put up two run in the top of the first and one in the second. The Lady Dogs added their first run in the bottom of the second, making it a 3-1 ball game.
The Lady Cats added a single run in the top have of the third before the Thorndale bats got hot. The Lady Dogs scored three in the bottom of the third and nine in the bottom of the fourth.
In the bottom of the sixth a bases loaded walk pushed across the final run to clinch the region championship for the Lady Dogs.
Thorndale collected 13 hits on the night to Weimar’s seven. The Lady Dogs had three defensive errors and the Lady Cats had two.
White earned the win in the circle, fanning four and walking one.
Baker went four-for-four at the plate with a double, pushing across two RBIs and scored two runs. Flores smashed three hits again, with a triple and two RBIs.
Madison Kelm, White, Kovar, Casey, Paulsen and Kiesling all had a hit. White had three RBIs and Kovar a double.
Newton scored twice, while Martinka also scored a run and batted one in. Vicknair and Laurence each scored a run, with Laurence stealing two more bases.
No Thorndale girls team has claimed a state title.
Only two other groups have ever reached the state tournament -- the 2008 girls basketball team and the 2018 volleyball team last fall.