Why Not Us
Atascocita softball wins 6A state championship
For the first time in school history, Atascocita is coming home with a team championship.
The Lady Eagles of AHS softball beat #3 Comal Canyon, 5-3, in a thrilling, back-and-forth game to claim the 6A UIL State Title.
All season, the Eagles’ motto has been “Why Not Us?”
On a steamy Saturday night at Red & Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas, it was them.
“We don’t quit. As long as we have an out on that board we’re going to give it everything we’ve got,” head coach Ashley Boyd said.
Multiple times this game, Atascocita found themselves in a hole. First in the third inning, when Canyon took a 1-0 lead on a two-out error. With Oklahoma signee Brooke Vestal cruising (7 Ks through 4IP), it was going to be tough on the Eagles.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Canyon switched pitchers to Aliyah Pritchett — a move they had done all year. Still, with Vestal dominating, it was a key moment in the game.
Two walks and a single loaded the bases for AHS. After two strikeouts, that’s when the clutch gene kicked in. Lesly Miranda singled to second base, scoring Skylar Wilabay. It all happened because senior Lillie Grotenhuis beat out a throw at second base.
“We put pressure on their defense,” Boyd said. “It came down to hustle. We hustled out a few of those outs and ground balls to give ourself the opportunity to pass the bat to the next person and keep innings alive.”
Grotenhuis’ hustle allowed the tying run to score and another batter to see pitches. Good thing. A wild pitch scored Lauren Bazan to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
Bazan, the game MVP was on base all tournament, going 5-8 with four runs scored in her two games in Austin.
“My game plan is to just find a way to get on base or score a run to keep my team going,” Bazan said. “I faced some of the best pitching in the state this weekend, so I just tried to keep battling.”
That mentality was consistent throughout the entire Eagles lineup, because just a few minutes late, adversity struck again.
In the top of the 6th inning, Canyon showed why they were 29-1 on the season. After a walk and a sac bunt, Sydney Owens drove in Pritchett to tie the game. The very next pitch, Bailey Zibelin ripped a double down the line to give the Cougarettes a 3-2 lead.
“This team has been through everything together,” Bazan said. “We’re all so appreciative of each other. We fight through and adversity that comes our way and we just come out on top, not matter the score.”
With their backs against the wall, and only six outs remaining in their season, Atascocita show that grit and determination.
After a walk, Atascocita laid down a sac bunt. An error by Canyon allowed both runners to be safe. Then another bunt was laid down and Canyon again made a mistake to allow the bases to be loaded with no outs.
The Eagles capitalized.
A passed ball scored Bryanna Bell to tie the game at three. After Bazan lined out, Grotenhuis gave the Eagles a lead with a SAC fly to right field, scoring Macie Pampell. Then Wilabay scored on another wild pitch to give Atascocita a 5-3 lead going the the final frame.
Though they only needed three outs, nothing was going to come easy. A one-out double and a walk put the tying run on first base with the dangerous Vestal at the plate.
A ground ball up the middle looked like it would squeeze through but freshman Katie Cimusz — the hero of the semifinals — backhanded the ball and glove flipped it to get the force out at second base.
With runners on the corners and two outs, it only took Mikayla Garza one more pitch to win it all.
A ground ball to shortstop Macie Pampell was calmly field, fired to first and just like that, the Eagles were champions.
“I had a whole bunch of faith in Macie,” Bazan said. “She’s a great shortstop the whole time she’s been with us. I just had so much faith she’d make the play. When we finally got it, my heart sunk. I couldn’t believe it. But you know, why not us?”
Atascocita’s 5-3 victory is the first team championship in the school’s history, something not lost on coach Boyd.
“Our athletic department at AHS is so strong and we’ve been so close so many times,” Boyd said. “To be that first one to knock down that door means a lot. I hope there is five more right behind us. It’s the first of many for Atascocita High School.”
The Eagles senior class (five players) will also hold a special place in Boyd’s heart.
“This is my first four year group,” she said. “For it to be this group that takes us to this point, it’s huge. As a coach, it gets you emotional because you saw them as the little babies. You saw them come here with heartbreak two years ago. And now you saw the fight and drive to want to get back here.
“It’s not just what we do here on the field,” Boyd added. “It’s what they do when nobody is watching.”
After two-straight years of Dallas teams winning 6A softball titles, it was high-time H-Town be crowned champions.
Atascocita finished the job.