“We woke up this morning thinking we had more games, and we were looking for somebody to play thinking there was still somebody left,” said Shorter coach Al Thomas with a laugh when reached by phone Thursday afternoon. “It’s kind of a weird feeling.”
Shorter won its first-ever softball championship on Wednesday when the Lady Hawks defeated Oklahoma City in a 1-0 thriller that lasted nine innings.
Coming into the season the Lady Hawks weren’t considered by many to be one of the teams to compete for the national championship after losing seven starters from last year’s team. But the Lady Hawks simply wouldn’t be denied.
“Nobody gave a chance to make a run for the title because of all the talent we lost. Instead of losing three players, we had lost seven, and this team just rallied around those loses and just took it upon themselves to fill the gap,” said Thomas.
“That’s where that family part came into play. We started playing for each other and not playing for ourselves and it was just history written.”
When the pressure is as high as it was during Wednesday’s game, some teams crumble — but not the Lady Hawks.
Shorter played like it was it was just another game and played as they had all season, like a family.
“That’s the way those games are; when you get to that point one little bobble, one missed sign, one base running blunder can cost you the national championship,” added Thomas. “(But) they didn’t let the pressure get to them, and we work real hard at being a family.
“What goes with that is if we have a player make a mistake, our kids pick each other up and we don’t point fingers,” he said.
“I try (to) coach that way, and I think that relaxes them to know that they can play relaxed instead of playing tense.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Broome stepped to plate and legged out a triple.
“She should have had a double, but she’s the fastest on our team, and when she hit it she never broke her stride,” said Thomas. “She took third when most people when have stopped at second.”
After an intentional walk to Jackie Castaneda, Emily Clements stepped up with a chance to play the hero, and that’s exactly what she did. She connected for a single to win it.
“I really thought they were going to walk Clements to load the bases,” added Thomas. “They choose to pitch to her, and I told her that the pitcher had gotten in a pattern of throwing a screwball in on her hands.
“So I told her to lay off the screwball and watch for the curveball and take it to right, and that’s exactly what happened. The pitcher came in with the screwball, then came with the curveball and Clements took it to right field and the game was over.”