By Erik Walsh
Monitor Sports Editor
TYLER–Down 3-2 in a shootout, Meagan Holyfield lined up with a chance to tie the game and save the Mabank Lady Panthers’ soccer season and a chance at the state tournament.
Mabank didn’t want to be in this position. The Lady Panthers played an excellent first half of soccer during the regional semifinal match at Rose Stadium in Tyler and never trailed in regulation time against the Princeton Lady Panthers. Goalkeeper Bailey Swain and the Mabank defense had played splendidly all playoff long, not allowing a single goal prior to the start of the game.
Mabank got on the scoreboard first when Heidi Foster found the back of the net to put the girls in green up 1-0 at the 27:04 mark of the first half. Princeton quickly tied things up three minutes later when Melissa Bewley scored off a corner kick to tie the game 1-1.
After a halftime break Mabank took the lead again when Kayla Houston made an excellent pass on a corner kick to sophomore Morgan Lynn, who found the back of the net for a 2-1 Mabank lead.
After the Mabank goal, Princeton’s Bewley turned on the offense pressure and eventually snuck past two defenders to beat Swain for her second goal of the game with just 12 minutes remaining. Neither team scored in the rest of regulation time or the two 10-minute overtime periods, forcing the shootout.
Once the shootout began, Bewley scored her third goal of the game to put Princeton up 1-0. Mabank junior Kaylee Creagh tied things up 1-1 on the next kick. Then, BriAna Lacey gave Princeton a 2-1 lead on the second rotation of kicks. Mabank followed up with Catherine Turner missing the net to keep the score 2-1 Princeton. Swain kept Mabank in the game with a diving save on the next kick to preserve the 2-1 score. Kayla Houston tied things up for Mabank, slugging her kick past the opposing goalkeeper. The shootout remained tied until the final rotation of kicks. Princeton’s Jaymee Dotson scored with a shot to the top of the post for the 3-2 lead.
Holyfield came up to the penalty kick area as Mabank’s last hope. Everything the girl’s soccer team had worked so hard for came down to one shot. If they won today, they would advance to the regional finals, just one win away from the state tournament. Even more was on the line for Holyfield. She is a senior this year and faced what could be her last game and shot of her high school career. She also carried the dreams of fellow seniors Lauren Flowers, Swain and her twin sister, Madison.
The story didn’t end like a storybook. Holyfield’s shot sailed over the top of the net and Princeton players exploded on the field in celebration. Meanwhile, Holyfield collapsed on the turf as the reality of the situation sunk in. Likewise, Swain sunk to her knees knowing it was all over.
Lady Panthers Head Coach Mari Miller was proud of the way Mabank played and developed over the year.
“The girls fought very hard,” Miller said. “They scored some great goals and played excellent defense. I am proud of each and every one of them. They improved much from the beginning of the year to now. We lost four amazing seniors this year who will be hard to replace.”
The Lady Panthers ended their season with a 14-10-1 record and its second consecutive regional tournament appearance. Last year they lost 5-1 to the Wylie Lady Pirates.
Posted by : April 16, 2015| On :
By Erik Walsh
Posted by : April 5, 2015| On :
By Erik Walsh
Monitor Sports Editor
RICE–Eustace held off a late-inning Rice rally to preserve a 3-2 victory March 31 in the battle of the Bulldogs.
Eustace got on the scoreboard in the first inning with solid hitting and base running. With one out, Cory Strawn smacked a double to leftfield to get into scoring position. Next up was Hudson McHaffey, who was unable to collect a RBI after hitting a line drive to second base for the second out. With Gannon Kirkhart at the plate, Strawn saw an opportunity to run and took it, stealing third base. Kirkhart was able to get Strawn home three pitches later with a clean stroke to the outfield for a RBI double. The inning ended when Kelly Ashton lined out to second base. Eustace led 1-0.
Eustace was able to extend its lead in the third inning and score the runs needed to secure the victory. Juan Maltos got things going with a leadoff single. Strawn flied out to right field for the first out, but McHaffey responded with a single to advance Maltos to second base. Kirkhart was unable to continue his heroics from the first inning, popping up an infield fly to the first baseman for the second out. Ashton was able to get Maltos home by hitting a single to leftfield. The hit gave Eustace a 2-0 lead. James East got the final hit of the inning when he nailed a pitch to right field to score McHaffey. Eustace led 3-0.
Neither team scored any runs until Rice began its rally in the seventh inning. Eustace’s offense was fizzling, managing just two hits in the fourth through seventh innings combined. One bright spot in the lul was Eustace pitcher Rusty Rogers showing the ability to get out of jams without surrendering runs.
A close call came in fourth inning when Rogers allowed two hits, then loaded the bases with two out by walking a Rice batter. A lot was on the line with the bases loaded and Rogers was able to get his team out of the inning with no damage done to the scoreboard by forcing the next batter to line out to Maltos at shortstop.
Things really got interesting in the seventh inning. After Eustace batters went three and out in the top of the inning, Rogers came back to the mound to finish the game. It didn’t begin ideally, as he walked the first Rice batter he faced, putting a runner on first base. Rogers allowed a second consecutive man on base with a single to left field to put runners on first and second. Rogers allowed a another hit to the next Rice batter, but Cody Strawn made a nice outfield throw to third baseman James East to catch a runner advancing to third base for the first out of the inning.
The nice defensive play seemed to energize Rogers, who forced an infield fly on the next batter for the second out. Runners remained on first and second base. Rice scored its runs in the next at bat by belting a line drive to left field, scoring both runners. Eustace led 3-2. With two out and a runner on first, Rogers preserved the complete game when James snagged a line drive at third base to end the contest.
Rogers ended the game with 87 pitches in seven innings of work. He allowed eight hits and only two runs. He walked four and struck out four while claiming the win. Offensively, Maltos and East collected two hits each, while East and Kirkhart were credited with RBI’s.
Eustace’s plays next April 7 at home against Malakoff.
Posted by : April 2, 2015| On :
KEMP–The Kemp Yellowjackets baseball team is looking to continue their success from last year under former Head Coach and current Athletic Director Brandon Hankins.
Head Baseball Coach Cameron Bankston was the first person Hankins hired after his promotion to AD last year. Now Bankston is entrusted to lead the program that Hankins helped turn around into a successful playoff contender. But nothing is ever easy.
It has always been tough to compete in 3A District 12 with the No. 5 state-ranked Palmer, last year’s District Champions, leading the pack. After UIL realignment the district got immeasurably tougher. Added to the mix is the current Texas State Champion Sunnyvale Raiders.
“We love playing against the top competition,” Bankston said.
So far this season Kemp’s record is 7-3. They have only played one district game, a 10-0 loss to the State Champion Raiders. The 10 run loss may look harsh, but Sunnyvale has been getting similar results all year.
Bankston describes his coaching style as “high energy,” and “challenging.”
“I’m a hard coach to play for,” Bankston admits. “I demand attention to detail and lots of effort from the players. They have taken well to it by learning every day and being up for a challenge. We have an very good group of seniors here.”
Bankston teaches the players to treat playing baseball today as a privilege. He asked the students “if tomorrow wasn’t promised, what would you give to play baseball today?”
The question is engeneered to motivate players to give it their all every day.
“I tell the players to not be afraid to be their best,” he said. “They can set their sights on being more than just the best player in Kemp or even the state of Texas.”
Bankston says he is thrilled to be the Head Coach at Kemp and thinks the environment is set up for success.
“Hankins helped get the baseball program going along in the right direction here,” he said. “Now I live down the street from him. He’s going to be in Kemp for a long time. He’s a great coach, AD and I love working for him.
Key seniors on the Kemp Yellowjackets are Jessie Hall, Hunter Scott, Calbert Hukil and Braxton Waters.