HUNTSVILLE — Alpha Omega Academy heads to the state semifinals for the first time in its program’s history after beating Hallettsville last Friday.
The Lady Lions scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to claim an 8-5 win, giving them the opportunity to keep playing for a state title.
“We’re just excited,” AOA head coach David DeShaw said. “It’s the first time we’ve managed to do this and we’ll try our luck. We don’t feel like there’s any pressure on us and it’s gravy from now on. I would like us to be prepared and have as much chance as anyone to win.
The Lady Lions will now build on everything they have done in their 20-game season to qualify for the Championship game.
With leadoff hitter Candace Smith guiding the offense, the Lady Lions will be looking for a spark.
Smith is currently in the lead and has been successful there. She has 19 hits and nine walks and has come home safely every time.
With Smith taking over the top spot, AOA saw production from junior Chrissy DeShaw. Chrissy has a season-high 22 hits with a .440 batting average. In those successes, she brought home 24 runners.
“I think we’re a lot more confident at the plate,” Smith said. “I think we faced better competition throughout this season. We have gained confidence and mentality. We had the skills before, but now we have the mentality to follow our skills to do damage on offense.
As both Chrissy and Smith have taken on leadership roles for offense, the Lady Lions have more offense from there. Seniors Anna Short, Jesse McMahon and Emily Adkins are ready to be where they are needed.
McMahon led 21 Lady Lions in his 63 at-bats this season and reached base safely 15 times.
Short has similar results making nine AOA runs but scoring 22 of his own.
“I think they’re ready,” David said. “They did a really good job against the Hallestville pitcher, getting her to throw a lot of pitches. We made them work for everything they got. I feel like our motto now is “you don’t get anything for free”. We will make you work for it.
With the offense ready to go, AOA will have strong support in the circle.
Sophomore pitcher Allie Warren served as Lady Lion’s lead pitcher. She’s pitched 71.1 innings this season en route to their trip to the semifinals.
“This year has been pretty awesome,” Warren said. “Being the person in the circle is very scary. I put pressure on myself to shoot well for my team, but I’m very confident because I know our defense is backing me up. I’m just confident because I know we’re backing each other up. all. We’re just going to come in and enjoy the experience.
Although Warren is the one throwing the pitches, she knows her defense behind her is going to back her up. Throughout the season, she struck out 71 opposing batters but allowed 79 hits. But they know it and can foresee it happening.
“Allie is not someone who is going to go out and punch 15 people,” David said. “We know they’re going to hit her. Our defense must do the play behind it. At the same time, we plan the opposing hitters to limit them. We had a lot of good games everywhere. If we continue to play a tight defense, everything will be fine.
Despite being on the big stage for the first time, AOA took the “why not us” approach. The Lady Lions know what they have to offer and plan to lean on each other to fight nerves.
“We have nothing to lose,” Smith said. “We have already reached the semi-finals and made school history, so why not go for it.”
“I think mostly we depend on each other,” said Lady Lions infielder Allison Davis. “We know we support each other. We don’t get nervous to play games, we really want to. We have nothing to lose. »
AOA will face Shriner at 4:00 p.m. Friday and the winner will play Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the University of Texas at Arlington. Fans who cannot travel with the team can find a stream of the game at https://tapps.biz/tappstv/ for a nominal fee or a radio broadcast of the game at https://mixlr.com/tappsradio/events .
“Have fun,” David said. “There is no pressure on us here. Shriner has won state titles before and we haven’t. We just have to have fun. Get up there, have fun and let loose.