Sometimes, the playoffs show where some softball teams are and how far others have to go. Byron Nelson faced a stiffer challenge in its Class 4A Region I area playoff against Aledo.
The Lady Bearcats were just too much for the Lady Bobcats. Aledo swept the best-of-three series by scores of 12-2 in Aledo and 7-5 at Nelson to advance to the Region I quarterfinal round. Byron Nelson closed the 2014 season at 17-14. Nelson went 2-2 in the playoffs after sweeping Saginaw Chisholm Trail in the bi-district round.
While Aledo pitcher Lauren Crane wasn’t overpowering – Nelson only struck out twice between the two games – Nelson pitchers leaving too many hittable pitches over the heart of the plate really turned out to be the difference.
In the run-rule loss on Thursday, coach Katherine Schoettle said starter Edie Fairchild just left too many pitches over the plate and paid for it. On Friday, Schoettle tried to change up the look by starting Izzy Milligan.
However, Milligan got into trouble early, as Aledo jumped out to a 7-1 lead. Schoettle went back to Fairchild. The results were better, as she pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings and scattered four singles.
Nelson scored three runs in the fifth to make it close at 7-5 but could come no closer. So a season with many new faces came to an end. A season with a team in the postseason always ends too early for all but one team.
“One of the biggest things is that maybe a lot of people thought this team exceeded their expectations, but it didn’t as far as the coaches and the other people connected to the team were concerned,” Schoettle said. “We got a lot out of this season. The girls know what to expect and will grow from it.”
Nelson moves up to Class 6A in 2015. Schoettle said her program scrimmaged or played several of its new opponents this spring and felt her group made a fair showing.
Leaving a legacy
Senior shortstop Haley Gray and senior second baseman Ashley Silva have completed very solid careers and will leave the middle of the infield for new faces to patrol.
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Schoettle admitted it will be a little odd not seeing the two college signees in 2015. Gray will be playing at North Greenville University in Greenville, S.C., while Silva is going to the University of Houston-Victoria.
“They were a good cop/bad cop duo for us,” Schoettle said of the seniors’ leadership styles. “Silva was very black and white about things and Gray would be the one to pat you on the back and tell why this program does things certain ways. They fed off each other. They were great leaders. We’re going to miss them.”
The 2014 squad set or tied six new team and individual records. It set the record for team doubles (58, breaking the record of 53 set in 2013) and tied the 2013 record with team triples with 30. Individually, Gray set the single season record for stolen bases (27) and career mark as well (66). Right fielder Logan Grado set the single-season record with five triples (the old record was four). And Chelsea McClure set the single-season record with 13 doubles breaking the mark of 11.