AUSTIN — Junior Ali Galaz said Mineola only knows one way to play — all out, all of the time.
The Lady Jackets have a valid reason for this philosophy and it has led them to where they’ve never been before, the Class 2A state semifinals.
Mineola (32-1) will battle Alpine (31-6) on Wednesday for a place in the 2A state championship game. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. at University of Texas at Austin’s Red and Charlene McCombs Field.
The winner will face either Crawford or Danbury at 6 p.m. Thursday in the state final.
The second-ranked Lady Jackets have just one loss on their ledger, a 5-0 setback to Lone Oak, and Galaz said it is because Mineola took an opponent too lightly.
“We beat them the first time and we knew we could beat them,” Galaz said. “I think we walked into the second time playing them thinking, ‘We’ve got this; we’ve got this sewn up.’ But we didn’t and we came out with a loss.
“So we now know what we need to do.”
Mineola had taken its foot off the gas last year, and if you ask head coach Jana Nance and her team, it cost them a chance to go to state. The Lady Jackets were one out away from defeating Central Heights and taking a 1-0 series lead in regional finals. Two home runs later, Mineola faced a must-win. The Lady Jackets rallied in the seventh to force extra innings, but ultimately succumbed 5-4 in the eighth inning.
Last week’s 2A Region III finals sweep had no drama, unless you count the number of runs Mineola would score before the mercy rule would mercifully be applied.
In two games, Mineola pounded out 31 hits and scored a whopping 35 runs in 20-0 and 15-1 victories over Linden-Kildare.
Prior to meeting L-K, Mineola was able to avenge 2011 by taking out Central Heights 3-1 and 10-0.
Since that loss to Lone Oak, Mineola has won 13 in a row and outscored its opponents 125-10.
“Our goal is to hit every inning and score at lease a run (an inning),” Nance said. “We’ve been doing that and we need to keep doing that.”
Mineola senior Courtney Hudgins admits the playoffs have not been as easy as the last three victories indicate, but the Lady Jackets are peaking at the right time.
“We struggled early (in the playoffs) against Tatum, winning 2-0 and it was 5-2 against Hooks,” Hudgins said. “We kind of woke up against Central Heights and we came out (against L-K) and wanted to (maintain that momentum).”
The second-ranked Lady Jackets now set their sights on a trip to the state title game, but must get past Alpine first. After destroying Muleshoe in bi-district (21-0), Alpine has taken a more traditional softball score approach with sweeps of Forsan and Blanco before defeating Colorado City in the regional final. All told, omitting the win over Muleshoe, Alpine has outscored its playoff opponents 20-2.
Mineola Lady Jackets (32-1)
State Tournament Appearances: 1 (2012)
Playoff scores: Bi-District (bye); Area (d. Tatum, 2-0); Regional Quarterfinals (d. Hooks (5-2); Regional Semifinals (swept Central Heights, 3-0, 10-0); Regional Finals (swept Linden-Kildare, 20-0, 15-1).
Roster: 1-Morgan Catron, Soph., C/P (.419); 2-Rikkilyn Hass, Soph., P (20-1); 3-Ali Galaz, Jr., CF (.481); 4-Marisa Ledkins, Soph., 2B (.406); 6-Taylor Craver, Jr., 1B (.339); 7-Manda Wilmouth, Fr., OF (.269); 8-Maddi Wood, Jr., RF (.315); 9-Cheyen Ryan, Jr., IF; 10-Baylee Hawkins, Fr., IF; 11-Jade Green, Fr., 3B (.478); 12-Brittney Johnson, Jr., SS (.434); 13-Courtney Hudgins, Sr., LF (.432); 14-Kassy Skinner, Fr., OF.
Coaches: Head coach Jana Nance and assistants Kelsey Ainsworth, David Smith.
Managers: Candyce Dobbs and Jerad Coburn.
Alpine Lady Bucks (31-6)
State Tournament Appearances: 1 (2012)
Playoff scores: Bi-District (bye); Area (d. Muleshoe (21-0); Regional Quarterfinals (swept Forsan, 3-1, 4-0); Regional Semifinals (swept Blanco, 5-1, 5-1); Regional Finals (d. Colorado City, 3-0).
Roster: 1-Kim Muniz, Sr., RF/OF (.446); 2-Ryan Hardin, Fr., SS/P (.423); 3-Rachel Ward, Fr., IF (.385); 4-Megan Gilmore, Fr., OF (.214); 5-Mary Catherine Saenz, Sr., C (.531); 6-Erin Gallego, Soph., OF (.421); 7-Christina Graham, Sr. OF (.610); 8-Emily Caccavo, Soph., IF; 10-Becky Ruiz, Sr., 2B (.338); 12-Anaya Losoya, Fr., IF; 13-Helen Morrow, Soph., 1B (.494); Dominique Portillo, Sr., LF (.420); 21-Sydney McCallister, Soph., 3B/C (.613); 22-Lauren Hardin, Sr., P (27-4).
Coaches: Head coach Troy Canaba and assistant Jared Hester.