THE WOODLANDS — The goal for The Woodlands Christian Academy is to get to back to the state tournament, and it checked the first box on the way to Crosby emphatically Monday night.
In its playoff opener, the Lady Warriors took down San Antonio Lutheran 15-0 in three innings at home, and punched their ticket to the state quarterfinals in TAPPS Division III.
“We needed this game to get us to what’s coming,” TWCA coach Richard Perez said. “I know what’s down the road isn’t going to be like this. We came out with a win. It’s not the way we like to do it, but I think our girls did what they could with what they had.”
The Lady Warriors (15-7) head to the state quarterfinals next, where they’ll play the winner of a first round game between Bay Area Christian and Boerne Geneva this weekend.
“It can go either way with those two teams,” Perez said. “We’re not really quite sure where we’re at [location-wise], but we’ve got some tough opponents ahead.”
In Monday’s game, TWCA plated three runs in the first, five in the second and seven in the third to clinch the 15-run mercy rule.
Seven of the Lady Warriors’ runs were scored with heads-up baserunning on mishaps by the Mustangs. Faith Hanshaw drove in three runs with a pair of singles to lead offensive effort. Ashley Darilek drove in two with a second-inning double. Megan Hannigan, Mattie Hopkins and Mariska Cohelo drove in one apiece.
Gracie Graham, Hannigan and Darilek - the top three batters in the order - all scored three times.
After a trip to the state semifinal last season, TWCA was firing on all cylinders in its postseason opener. Monday's win was the 12th-straight for the Lady Warriors.
“We were so ready,” Hanshaw said. “We really wanted it this year because of how close we got last year. We feel like we’ve improved from last year as well, so we were really excited to get to the postseason and do the best we can.”
In the circle, Hanshaw - who signed to play softball at Carleton College less than a week ago - struck out six batters and allowed just one hit, and baserunner, in three innings of action.
“I actually felt better than I have in awhile,” the senior said. “I think getting into the postseason, everything becomes real. I realize this could be my last game ever, and I don’t want to go halfway on my last game. I want to give everything I have to this team for the rest of the season.”
With round one behind them, the Lady Warriors are a win away from the state semifinal and three from being Division III’s top team.
“It feels really good, especially knowing how hard we’ve worked this season,” Cohelo, a junior, said. “I felt like we really deserved it and we’re excited.”
Whether it’s Bay Area Christian or Boerne Geneva in the next round, TWCA knows how close it is to the goal it set out to accomplish after falling short last season.
“We’re all really motivated, especially because we were so close last year,” Cohelo said. “It has been our goal all season and that’s what we’ve been working for.”