BULLARD — Down by a run with only six outs left the night before, Mineola coach Jana Nance challenged her team to look within themselves and pull through.
And by scoring three runs in the sixth inning, the Lady Jackets no doubt rose to the occasion.
On Saturday afternoon, Nance’s message hardly needed repeating as Mineola stood a victory away from the regional final against a recent postseason nemesis.
In their most impressive performance of the year, Mineola completed a sweep of Nacogdoches Central Heights in overwhelming fashion. The Lady Jackets jumped ahead early and Rikkilyn Hass threw a one-hitter to blast the Lady Devils, 10-0, in the Class 2A Region III softball semifinals at Bullard Brook Hill’s Schwab Field.
With the victory, No. 7 Mineola (31-1) earned a measure of revenge against sixth-ranked Central Heights (15-5) after rallying to win 3-1 in Friday’s series opener. The teams squared off in last season’s regional final, which the Lady Devils took on the way to reaching the state championship game.
“Since last year the girls wanted to beat Central Heights,” Nance said. “They wanted to beat them so bad.”
Unlike the night before, Mineola wasted little time before breaking through against Central Heights ace Chandler McCarty and advancing to face Linden-Kildare for the regional title.
Courtney Hudgins, the second batter of the game, started things in the first with a triple to the wall in right-center and scored a batter later when Ali Galaz laced a double to the wall in left-center. Galaz then scored from second on a throwing error from third to first to make the score 2-0.
Brittney Johnson and Maddie Wood posted RBI doubles in the second and third, respectively, and Hass contributed an RBI single to increase the advantage to 5-0.
Central Heights never recovered.
“I felt like we didn’t do the little things right,” Lady Devils coach Iyhia McMichael said. “Mineola hit the ball very well and we didn’t get the outs we needed and we didn’t make adjustments at the plate.”
Hass struck out three and walked one.
Johnson finished 3 for 4 with the RBI double, a triple and an RBI single in the fifth and Galaz went 2 for 4 with the RBI double and an RBI single to spearhead the Lady Jackets.
Mineola put the 10-run mercy rule into effect with a four-run fifth, which included a pair of runs on errors.
Class 2A Region III Semifinal
At Schwab Field, Bullard Brook Hill
(Mineola wins series 2-0)
No. 7 Mineola 10, Nacogdoches Central Heights 0
Mineola 212 14 — 10 12 2
C. Heights 000 00 — 0 1 3
Rikkilyn Hass and Morgan Catron; Chandler McCarty and Kate Rice; W — Hass; L — McCarty. 3B — M: Courtney Hudgins. 2B — M: Ali Galaz.
RECORDS — Mineola 31-1; Central Heights 15-5.
NEXT UP — Mineola vs. Linden-Kildare, regional final.