By Michael Brooks
When the final out came in the Ganado Maidens 7-6 victory over Bremond, Ganado fans were finally able to exhale. The Maidens won a slugfest in game one and the tense game two win put the Maidens in the Regional Finals.
And with the series victory, the Maidens continue to make Ganado history. No Ganado girls team in softball, volleyball, or basketball has ever made it past the third round of the playoffs, and now the Maidens are five rounds deep, and one of only eight 2A teams still playing softball in Texas.
By the third inning of the first game, you could tell both teams could hit. Ganado opened the game with a run in the first but Bremond answered right back with three of their own in the bottom of the first. The Maidens added a single run in the second, but in the third, the Maidens took lead with four runs of their own. After adding another single run in the fourth, Bremond stormed back into the game with three of their own and suddenly the Maidens lead was cut to 7-6.
“I think Bremond was the toughest team we’ve faced in the playoffs,” Maiden Kate Smith said. “Their pitcher was one of the best we have face and they are a hard hitting team.”
The Maidens, showing they have a great offense too, answered back with six of their own in the fifth, but Bremond again put up three in the bottom of the fifth.
Holding a 13-9 lead but seeing Bremond continue to claw their way back, the Maidens put up four more in the sixth. Neither team did anything in the bottom of the sixth or the top of the seventh.
Going to their final at-bat, Bremond put up two more runs, but the Maidens were able to escape and take the game one win.
Cosmo Kramer knocked three hits for Ganado as JaLai Foster, Bella Adrian and Smith had two to lead the way. Macy Kolacny had three RBI’s and to pace the Maidens. Kolacny also pitched 6.2 innings and racked up nine strikeouts.
The second game started off looking like it would be another slug fest as Bremond put up two runs in both the first and second inning and the Maidens three in the first, but the umpire in the first game seemed to be squeezing the strike zone and once the teams settled in, both pitchers realized, in this game, they were getting a bit more of the plate in their favor and they used that to thier advantage.
The Maidens also used smart baserunning to put extra pressure on Bremond.
Cameryn Webernick opened the game with a single. She then stole second and seeing the third baseman creeping up for a possible bunt and nobody covering third, she didn’t stop and took the open bag.
Kolacny reached on an infield single and Webernick scored on a passed ball. Adrian walked and then Smith came up with a huge hit, a two RBI double that gave the Maidens the lead.
In the second, after two Bremond hitters reached base, Kolacny came in to the circle for Smith. Kolacny gave up a triple that scored two Bremond runs, and gave them a 4-3 lead, but after that, she shut the down for several innings, as the Maidens fought back.
In the bottom of the third, Foster crushed the ball for a singled and Adrian followed with a rocket blast for an RBI double that tied the game. The hit also extended Bella’s unbelievable RBI run through the playoffs. (More on that later).
Through the fourth and top of the fifth, the game sailed along, but in the sixth, the Maidens made Bremond pay for every mistake they made.
Webernick opened the inning with a bunt single but again saw an open base, continued running, and beat the throw to second. Foster picked up an sacrifice fly to give the Maidens a 5-4 lead. Later, another run scored on a throwing error. After Adrian hit a single, another run scored when the Bremond catcher tried to throw a runner out at second but the ball sailed into the outfield.
Now holding a 7-4 lead, the Maidens picked up a Kramer single, but that was all until the bottom of the seventh.
The inning opened with a Bremond hitter getting hit by a Kolacny pitch. The next batter walked. And then Bremond came up with an RBI single to cut the lead to 7-5. A fielders choice followed that gave the Maidens out number one, but also cut the lead to 7-6.
The following Bremond hitter attempted to bunt with two strikes. The ball went straight down, hit the plate and then rolled in front of the plate. The Bremond hitter was called out for bunting the ball foul with two strikes.
Bremond Head Coach K.L. Groholski argued the ball was fair but it seemed to not matter anyway as the ball had been thrown to first before the runner reached the bag.
After the call was held up, Kolacny fought with runners on second and third and a one run lead. And when the Maidens got the final out, with the runners stranded on the base, the Ganado Maidens and their fans celebrated their historic win.
“It was a nail-biter the whole time,” Adrian said. “I was so nervous, but I knew Macy had it, and the defense was behind her. We love giving everybody heart attacks.”
Even more impressive is how young the Maidens team is.
“I think it is pretty awesome, not just making history, but to still have three years left,” Maiden freshman Jaxyn Bures said. “We are a young team. Two seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and the rest freshmen. I couldn’t be more proud the team right now and how far we have grown. Its only going to get better from this point. We have even more talented girls coming up.”
The Maiden team seems to have someone pick up the slack every time the team needs it.
In the 16-12 victory over Charlotte, Adrian picked up an amazing 9 RBI’s. In the first game against Shiner, Adrian’s three run homer gave the Maidens the lead and proved to be the difference. For Adrian, just being able to play the game is an amazing feat.
“I’ve just been getting stronger after surgery,” Adrian said. “I had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and had to have a rib removed. It took a couple of week to get back into the swing of thing.”
For Smith, the best playoff game during this run was against Shiner. Plus it was sweet revenge.
“Personally my best game was Shiner,” Smith said. “I pitched the best I had, and our defense was solid behind me. It was a great game. It was nice to have that revenge, getting the wins we didnt have during district.”
The team points to improved team chemistry, growing closer and communicating better, and most of all, better defense to account for their great play.
“I feel that these past four games have been our best all season,” Kolacny said. “Starting with the Shiner series, we reduced our number of errors in the field, our pitching has stepped up, and our batting has really improved, keeping us in the games.”
Maidens Head Coach Monica Strube agrees and knows she can count on her team being ready to do what it takes to win.
“It’s fun, it is cool to see them click and truly play as a team. You can tell they are trusting each other. They know their teammates have their back. We are having a blast.”
With the umpire pinching the strike zone in game one, Kolacny was feeling sore, but still answered the call and went to the circle in game two.
“She has been an absolute rock she will give her team 100 percent no matter how she is feeling,” Strube said about Kolacny.
“The umpire in game one (of the Bremond series) had a tight strike zone which led the pitcher from the other team and I to have to pitch more on the plate,” Kolacny explained. “This ended up in more hits and a higher scoring game. In game two, the umpire gave us more of the corners, particularly on the outer half. I used this to my advantage and focused on hitting the outside corner which helped me get more strikeouts.
“I was very sore after pitching the first game. But just as we know Coach Strube will always have our back, everyone on the team always steps up where they’re needed in order to win. I’m thankful for the support from both Coach Strube and Coach (Brock) Larson.” And now the Maidens are going to need to continue playing their best ball as they will face Weimar for the third time.
“Staying confident is the key,” Bures said. “We have to go in with that mentality. It is just like Shiner, we knew we could do it, we just have to go out and do it.”
The team is encouraging everyone to pack the stands for the home game on Thursday, and if that happens, people unfamiliar with the team might just enjoy it moving forward.
“It is very exciting to get this far with such a young team because it shows the future of Maiden softball is bright,” Kolacny said.