MOUNT PLEASANT — Mineola put on a two-night show and is now going to state.
The Lady Jackets defeated Linden-Kildare, 15-1, Saturday in Game 2 of their Class 2A Region III final series at Northeast Texas Community College. The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
It followed a 20-0 Mineola win on Friday to give the Lady Jackets a two-game sweep of the best-of-three series.
Mineola had 13 hits alone on Saturday, six of them for extra bases, and finished with 31 combined in the two games.
“I still have goose bumps; I am just so proud of them,” said Mineola coach Jana Nance.
“They wanted this so bad since last year. They are not satisfied though until we get that ring and we have four more days and two more games.”
The win moved No. 4 Mineola to 32-1, while No. 3 Linden-Kildare ended its season at 30-5.
It is also the first-ever trip to the state tournament for Mineola softball. The Lady Jackets have now outscored their last two playoff opponents, 48-2.
The overwhelming run support overshadowed sophomore pitcher Rikkilyn Hass, who tossed a shutout Friday and gave up a single run in Linden-Kildare’s final at-bat on Saturday. She finished the two-game sweep allowing a combined eight hits.
Mineola sports just one senior on its roster and Courtney Hudgins made a big impact in Saturday’s win, going 2 for 3 with two doubles and three runs scored.
“We got a big lead yesterday and then came out today and knew (Linden-Kildare) would come out fighting,” Hudgins said. “This is perfect. This is all I’ve thought about. I am so happy right now.”
Mineola scored nine runs in its Friday win to set the tone. On Saturday, Brittney Johnson showed it was going to be another long game for Linden-Kildare pitching, raking an 0-1 pitch into the right-field corner for an inside-the-park-homer. Hudgins followed with a double and scored on a fielder’s choice from Ali Galaz.
“That set the tone for the game,” Nance said of Johnson’s and Hudgins’ hits. “We just had to stay focused throughout the whole game and not let up, and we just kept hitting.”
Mineola led just 2-0, but any confidence Linden-Kildare gained was erased by two sparkling defensive plays from Galaz. After a one-out single from Taylor Eaves, TeAnn Elliott lofted what looked like a sure single to short center field, but Galaz raced to the ball and made a diving catch.
The Lady Jackets put a six-spot on the board in the second with Galaz again denying Linden-Kildare a scoring chance in the third. With runners at first and second and two outs, Shanice Love singled to center and Quala Love tested Galaz’s throwing arm and lost with the junior firing a ball to the plate for the final out of the inning.
While Mineola kept L-K off the scoreboard with defense, the Lady Tigers committed seven errors in the first two innings.
Hass didn’t need it, but Mineola’s bats went to work again in the third, scoring six more runs. Hass had a double and Mineola received singles from Morgan Catron, Marisa Ledkins and Maddie Wood.
The Lady Jackets tacked on a final run in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-out double from Galaz and RBI single by Catron.
All that was left to secure a trip to Austin was three outs. Linden-Kildare scored a run off Hass on a two-out RBI single from Love before Hass got the next batter to pop out to, fittingly, Galaz in center.
Mineola now waits to see who it will play in the state semifinals, scheduled for Wednesday at Red and Charline McCombs Field on the University of Texas at Austin campus.
Mineola 15, Linden-Kildare 1 (5 innings)
Class 2A Region III Final
At Northeast Texas CC, Mount Pleasant
L-K 000 01 — 1 5 8
Mineola 266 1x — 15 13 1
TeAnn Elliott, Taylor Wells (3) and Wells, Shanice Love (3); Rikkilyn Hass and Morgan Catron.
W – Hass. L – Elliott.
2B – LK: Caitlin Grider; M: Courtney Hudgins (2), Hass. 3B – M: Marissa Ledkins. HR – M: Brittney Johnson (first inning, solo).
RECORDS — Linden-Kildare 30-5; Mineola 32-1.
NEXT UP — Mineola vs. TBA in Class 2A state semifinals, Wednesday at Red and Charline McCombs Field, University of Texas at Austin.