Battlin’ Billies rally for first state berth
DRIPPING SPRINGS — Mia Torres walked around the infield. She then went to the backstop and chatted with well-wishers before returning to the infield for photographs, handshakes and hugs.
Through the celebration, one little nugget came to the Fredericksburg senior shortstop’s mind. It was something Battlin’ Billies coach Melissa Hall said long before the first pitch or swing of the season.
“In the preseason, coach Hall told us over and over, ‘This is our state team. This is the state team,’” Torres said. “She was right.”
Fredericksburg used a big fourth inning to rally past Navarro 2-1 on Thursday in Game 2 of the Region IV-4A final at Dripping Springs High School. The Battlin’ Billies (32-7) swept the series after winning Game 1 by the same score and advanced to the UIL state tournament for the first time.
The Battlin’ Billies will play in the 4A state semifinals next Thursday at the University of Texas’ McCombs Field. An opponent and starting time will be announced Sunday.
“It’s amazing,” Fredericksburg senior pitcher Emery Boettcher said. “It’s so surreal. I can’t believe it right now, that it’s happening.”
Boettcher had a big part in the Battlin’ Billies’ landmark win. She kept her team in contention, allowing just the one run, until the offense got going.
“I just knew that I had to trust in my team, and throw how I can throw, and they will back me up,” Boettcher said. “It’s nice to be challenged and dig deep.”
Fredericksburg got its breakthrough in the top of the fourth. Torres started the rally by leading off with a bunt single. She moved to second when Ashlyn Weinheimer was hit by a pitch.
A sacrifice bunt by Karlee Reyes put Torres at third and Weinheimer at second. Kate Wenzel’s squeeze bunt plated Torres to tie it at 1-1, but Weinheimer was tagged out after being caught off the bag at third.
Wenzel then stole second and scored on a two-out error.
“We knew going in that the smallball was going to be the way to go,” Torres said. “We really executed on that. This series, it was just nitty-gritty. Every pitch counted. Every at-bat counted. We just gave it all we could and came out on top, which is what everybody wanted.”
Navarro (20-8) looked to push the series to a decisive Game 3, and after three innings appeared poised to do so. The Panthers led 1-0 on outfielder Emily Hinkelmann’s solo home run in the bottom of the second, and it looked as if it might be enough with the way pitcher Alexis Valdez was keeping Fredericksburg’s offense at bay.
But the Battlin’ Billies came through with crucial hits and defense. A big moment came in the sixth when Navarro had runners at first and second with no outs, but Fredericksburg ended the threat with a double play and a shoestring catch in the outfield.
“I felt like we did a good job of playing it cool, and then we were making plays when we needed to,” Hall said.