BELTON - The oldest saw in sports has to be "It's never over 'til it's over."
Senior Jessica Valis celebrates her game-winning inside-the-park home run with the rest of the Lady Cardinals and Coach Gilbert Price. photo by Harry Reese
But that old saw still has teeth and that was demonstrated in Saturday's Class 2A championship game in the TAPPS State Softball Tournament at Dee Dillon Field.
After rallying for three runs and the lead in the top of the seventh, the Sacred Heart Indianettes watched the St. Paul Lady Cardinals pull off a 5-4 win and collect the champions' medals for the second consecutive year.
St. Paul took a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning and then watched it disappear on two errors. With one out, Jaime Jahn singled to right-center. Sara Steinocher laid down a sacrifice bunt and pitcher Brooke Broussard made an errant throw that skipped by the first baseman and allowed Jahn to score. Michele Sevick followed with a walk and Emily Gallia laid down the sacrifice bunt.
That's when things went terribly wrong for the Lady Cardinals. Broussard fielded the ball cleanly, looked Steinocher back to third and then made a perfect throw to first. But no one was covering first and Steinocher and Sevcik scored for a 4-3 lead while Gallia sprinted all the way to third. Gallia put on the brakes so hard, her feet scooted out from under her and she fell down and then scrambled back to third.
Broussard walked Stephanie Tobola and then gave way to Calli Schacherl, who struck out Heather Kolacny and Patience Clark to end the inning.
"My stomach was going up and down," St. Paul second baseman Jessica Valis said. "Our defense has been tentative all year, but I knew our hitting was good and we would come through. We've gotten the good hits all year."
Sevcik struck out Carol Filip to start the inning, but Jordan Watzlavik reached on a fielding error as Sevick bobbled a grounder. That brought up Valis and the shift that Sacred Heart coach Pat Henke unveiled in last year's state tournament.
St. Paul coach Gilbert Price gets a bottled-water shower after his Lady Cardinals won the TAPPS Class 2A softball title Saturday with a 5-4 win over Sacred Heart. Victoria Advocate photo
Henke moved everyone over to the right side of the defense and kept just his shortstop and third baseman on the left side. The lefty-swinging Valis had beat out an infield hit early in the game, but this time she came up huge - poking a sharp grounder that found the hole on the right side. Indianette rightfielder Kolacny ran desperately after the ball only to kick it as she reached it, sending the ball past the centerfielder and deeper into the outfield. By the time the ball was corralled and flung home, Valis was sliding across home with the game-winning run.
"I thought I had scored the tying run because I was thinking so hard on one to tie, two to win," Valis said. "It wasn't until coach (Gilbert) Price congratulated me that I realized we had won.
"It's excellent to finish strong and let everyone know that we came out to play and beat them," the senior added. "There was no other alternative."
Henke and the Indianettes seemed stunned by the quick change in fortunes.
"It happened so quickly and then we let it slip away just as quick," Henke said. "It was just one of those things.
"Michele did a great job of battling through," he added. "Her finger was jammed and we had ice on it all day."
Sevick scattered five hits in 6 1/3 innings with three walks, one strikeout and yielded three earned runs.
"I knew we would come back, but things didn't go our way," Sevcik said. "It just happened. There was nothing we could do. We fought back."
Hailey Valis, twin sister of Jessica, was thrilled by the turn of events. She never doubted her team would rally if they kept their heads in the game.
"That was exciting," she said. "It feels great."
The 2005 TAPPS 2A State Champions: The St. Paul Lady Cardinals Softball team. photo by The Shiner Gazette
Price seemed almost relieved.
"We've played in tight ballgame like that, but you can't make six errors and expect to win," price said. "We just hung in there."
St. Paul got two runs in the first inning when Jessica Valis was hit by a pitch and Jaime Pilat walked. Valis and Pilat also stole bases before coming home on a single to left by Schacherl.
Jessica Valis led off the third with her infield hit and went to third on a sacrifice bunt and throwing error. She scored on a sacrifice fly by Haley Valis.
Sacred Heart left eight runners on base in the first four innings.
Kandis Konvicka and Steinocher had hits in the first, but neither one got past second.
Casey Leopold got a run in the third as she walked, moved to third on a single by Steinocher and scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Sevcik.
Sacred Heart loaded the bases in the fourth with two outs as St. Paul made two errors. Broussard got Jahn on a grounder back to the mound to end the threat.
The Indianettes had more hits than the Lady Cardinals but not the clutch hits that would have allowed them to break the game wide open early.
Sacred Heart finished the year at 14-12 and St. Paul collected its eighth state title and wrapped up the year with a 21-6 record.
Broussard, Schacherl and Haley and Jessica Valis were named to the all-tournament team along with Sacred Heart's Steinocher, Sevcik, Gallia and Tobola.
GAME SUMMARY Game of May 14, 2005 SCORE: F Sacred Heart 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 -- 4 St. Paul 2 0 1 0 0 0 2 -- 5 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS: St. Paul Name AB H R RBI Brooke Broussard 3 0 0 1 Carol Filip 3 0 0 0 Meghan Janak 2 0 0 0 Katie McElroy 1 0 0 0 Jamie Pilat 3 0 0 0 Brittany Pohler 3 0 0 0 Calli Schacherl 3 2 2 2 Hailey Valis 3 0 0 0 Jessica Valis 3 2 2 2 Jordan Watzlavick 3 1 1 0 TOTALS 27 5 10 5 HIGHLIGHTS: TAPPS 2A State Final WP: Calli Schacherl. LP: Michele Sevcik. Highlights: (SH) Sara Steinocher 2-for-4, run; Kandis Konvicka 1-for-4; Jaime Jahn 1-for-4, run; Casey Leopold 1-for-2, run; Sevcik run, RBI and 6.1 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned runs, 3 walks, 1 strikeout; (SP) Jessica Valis 2-for-3, 3 runs; Schacherl 2-for-2, 2 RBIs; Meghan Janak 1-for-2.; Brooke Broussard 6.1 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 0 earned runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts. Records: Sacred Heart 14-12, St. Paul 21-6.