Van two wins away from state

Van pitcher Autumn McKinney delivers to the plate during last weeks' regional semifinal series. McKinney is slated to start Game 1 of the 3A regional final today against Atlanta. (Lang White | Correspondent)

A season ago, the Van softball team was eliminated in two games in the regional finals.

This season, the Lady Vandals have returned to the round and hope to break through to the state tournament.

This week, No. 7 Van (27-5-1) meets third-ranked Atlanta (27-4) in the Class 3A Region II championship round at Mount Pleasant's Northeast Texas Community College. Game 1 of the best-of-three series is set for 7 p.m. today; followed by Friday's Game 2 (7 p.m.) and Saturday's Game 3 (2 p.m., if necessary).

Van, which last reached the state tournament in 2006, was swept in last season's regional final by eventual state runner-up Mineola. The Lady Vandals entered the season with nine returning letterman and soaring expectations, which they've been fulfilling.

The next thing to check off on the list is another trip to Austin.

"We're ready to take that next step; that is our goal," Van coach Craig Ham said on the eve of the regional finals. "They are ready to do whatever it takes to get it done."

Last week it took a comeback and bounce back.

Van had its 19-game winning streak snapped in a 4-3 Game 2 loss to Celina after the Lady Vandals thrashed the Lady Bobcats 17-0 in Game 1.

In the deciding Game 3, Van fell behind 2-0 on a two-run homer by Celina in the top of the first.

The Lady Vandals responded with 12 unanswered runs in an eventual run-rule victory to move on.

"They were really focused and they were not concerned with those two runs," Ham said. "We always felt like we were going to score more than that."

For the series, Van produced 32 runs and collected 37 hits.

"We have to have the mindset that we are going to make contact with the ball every time we step up to the plate," Lady Vandal Nicole Gandy said after the Game 3 win, which she helped deliver with a two-strikeout, six-hit performance in the circle.

The postgame celebration countered the mood following last season's regional final against Mineola, which fell to Lufkin Hudson in the state final.

In the best-of-three series, Van fell 11-6 in the opener and 14-6 in the second game after splitting with District 15-3A rival Mineola during the regular season.

This time the Lady Vandals are matched up against Atlanta, which beat Sanger 6-4 and 6-5 in the regional semifinals.

The winner moves on to the state tournament, scheduled for May 29-31 at the University of Texas' Red & Charline McCombs Field in Austin.

— Staff writer Chris Parry contributed to this report

 

SOFTBALL PAIRINGS

Regional Finals

Class 5A

Region II

Rockwall (27-6-1) vs.

The Woodlands (36-3)

(Best of three series)

Baylor University, Waco

Game 1: 8 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: 7 p.m. Friday

Game 3: 1 p.m. Saturday, if necessary

 

Class 4A

Region II

Ennis (29-3-1) vs.

Hallsville (37-3)

(Best of three series)

Brook Hill, Bullard

Game 1: 7 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: 7 p.m. Friday

Game 3: 5 p.m. Saturday, if necessary

 

Class 3A

Region II

Van (27-5-1) vs. Atlanta

(Best of three series)

Northeast Texas CC,

Mount Pleasant

Game 1: 7 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: 7 p.m. Friday

Game 3: 5 p.m. Saturday, if necessary

Class 2A

Region II

Mount Vernon (32-8-1) vs.

Lone Oak (31-5)

(Best of three series)

Grand Saline

Game 1: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: 6 p.m. Friday

Game 3: 30 minutes after conclusion of Game 2, if necessary

 

Class 1A

Region III

Harleton vs. Grapeland

One Game: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Lindale

 

BASEBALL PAIRINGS

Regional Semifinals

Class 5A

Region II

Rockwall-Heath (31-7) vs.

Humble Atascocita (27-7)

(Best of three series)

Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton

Game 1: 8 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Game 3: 1 p.m. Saturday, if necessary

 

Plano (28-10-1) vs.

Klein Collins (27-9)

(Best of three series)

Baylor University, Waco

Game 1: 8 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: 8 p.m. Friday

Game 3: 2 p.m. Saturday, if necessary

 

Class 4A

Region II

Prosper (28-10-1) vs.

Mansfield Legacy (27-9)

(Best of three series)

Dallas Baptist, Dallas

Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Game 3: 4 p.m. Saturday, if necessary

 

Frisco Liberty (30-8) vs. Hallsville (30-3)

(Best of three series)

Tillery Field, Mesquite

Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Game 3: noon Saturday, if necessary

 

Class 3A

Region II

Melissa (24-9) vs.

North Lamar (19-15-1)

(Best of three series)

Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Paris Junior College

Game 2: 7:30 p.m. Friday at McKinney HS

Game 3: 4 p.m. Saturday at McKinney HS, if necessary

 

Argyle (27-8-1) vs.

Pleasant Grove (24-10)

(Best of three series)

Game 1: 7 p.m. Thursday, McKinney Boyd HS

Game 2: 7 p.m. Friday, Northeast Texas CC, Mount Pleasant

Game 3: 2 p.m. Saturday, Northeast Texas CC, Mount Pleasant, if necessary

 

Class 2A

Region II

Sunnyvale (25-6) vs.

Hughes Springs (24-4)

One-game playoff: 8 p.m. Friday, Paris Junior College

 

Grandview (27-9) vs.

Palmer (28-8)

(Best of three series)

Waxahachie's Richards Park

Game 1: 7 p.m. Friday

Game 2: Noon Saturday

Game 3: 30 minutes after conclusion of Game 2, if necessary

 

Region III

Nacogdoches Central Heights (22-11 vs. Salado (26-8-1)

(Best of three series)

Franklin HS

Game 1: 7 p.m. Friday

Game 2: noon Friday

Game 3: if necessary, 30 minutes after Game 2

 

Garrison (22-11-1) vs. Troy (26-8)

(Best of three series)

A&M Consolidated HS,

College Station

Game 1: 7 p.m. Friday

Game 2: 4 p.m. Saturday

Game 3: 30 minutes after conclusion of Game 2, if necessary

 

Class 1A

Region III

Carlisle (22-3) vs. Evadale (27-4)

One-game playoff: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Morris Frank Park, Lufkin

 

Harleton (20-4-1) vs.

Douglass (27-1)

(Best of three series)

Driller Park, Kilgore

Game 1: 5 p.m. Thursday

Game 2: follows Game 1

Game 3: 6 p.m. Friday, if necessary

 
 

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