FAYETTEVILLE — For six consecutive games in postseason play, Lavaca came up with one-runs wins, with three of those in their final at-bat.
In Friday’s 3A State Tournament championship softball game against Benton Harmony Grove, Lavaca took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning and it looked like the cardiac kids might just do it again. But this time, fortunes turned as Harmony Grove put up two runs in the home half of the sixth and shut Lavaca down in the seventh for a 2-1 win.
"We played some teams along the way and were able to get some big wins," Lavaca coach Brian Schlinker said. "It might have caught up a little bit today. We made a few mistakes that we don’t really usually make, but give Harmony Grove credit they came up with some well-hit balls in that sixth inning."
"It’s a little disappointing right now because we really worked hard for it, and it looked like we might just do it when we got the lead," Schlinker said. "We are looking at this runner-up trophy and it doesn’t look that great, but it will look pretty good in the future. This team (29-3) did things that no other Lavaca team in history did and we are going to look back on that in the long run."
The Lavaca team had only one senior — first baseman and No. 2 hole hitter — Haley Brown in the lineup.
"We only had one, but boy she as a good senior and we are going to miss her," Schlinker said. "She was solid defensively, one of the best bunters I have every seen and a great team leader."
Brown was in tears, along with most of her teammates after the game.
"It just hurts a lot right now, because this is all I have wanted, was to win a state championship," Brown said. "But I know when I look back, I am just going to think about my teammates and the greatest bunch of friends I could ever have. It has been a great experience."
Junior shortstop Erica Schuster, a three-year starter already, will be a mainstay next year. Schuster delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning to put Lavaca up 1-0. Her hit scored No. 9 hole hitter Makala Moody, who had hustled out a bunt into a infield single
"We really wanted to win this year for Haley, because she deserved it," Schuster said, also crying after the game. "We are going to have to find someone to take her place, but everyone else is back and we are determined to get back here and win it this time."
Junior pitcher Cheyenne Crawford, who had two no hitters in the playoffs also had a strong game going up only two hits in the first five innings. Harmony Grove was able to solve her in the home half of the sixth, putting together two hard-hit doubles and an RBI single to go ahead.
Crawford declined comment after the game.
Second baseman and leadoff hitter Codie Robertson, a sophomore, is also one of the keys to the future for Lavaca.
"It is sad, I felt like crying too," Robertson said. "We are just going to work in the off season do everything we can go be back her and win that state championship next year.