Kory Craddick hates saying goodbye to his players, but he could not ask for a better way to see them leave.
For the past six years, Salado’s head softball coach watched Malory Schattle and Meagan Hill mature as players and people. He nurtured their skills and witnessed their development both on and off the field.
Friday evening, an era officially ended as Craddick, Schattle and Hill shared the dugout one final time during the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s inaugural Victory Bowl all-star softball game.
For Craddick, the experience was overwhelming.
“Once it was over,” he said, “we took a picture together, and I told them how much they’ve meant to me over the years, and that it meant a lot for me to take part in this last game.”
And his standouts made sure to produce memories to be remembered by.
After tallying just two hits and being outscored 6-3 through the first four innings, the Blue team scored seven runs on five hits during a fifth-inning outburst propelled by the pair of Lady Eagles.
Moments after consecutive RBIs trimmed the Red team’s advantage to a run, Schattle sent a pitch over the center-field wall at Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Dee Dillon Field, scoring two runs to give the Blue team its first lead of the game at 7-6. Three batters later, Hill’s infield single scored a run to increase the cushion en route to an 11-10 victory.
“It was outstanding,” Craddick said. “For both of them to step up at that time when we really needed them, it just solidified my opinion that they’re both fantastic and going to be great in college.”
The hits proved to be the only time either of the former Lady Eagles would get on base during the contest, which is exclusive to recent graduates from Central Texas schools, but Schattle was satisfied to simply contribute.
“It was great to be a part of that rally,” she said. “We both really appreciate getting recognition for our parts, and getting that win was something great.”
Schattle, a shortstop, is preparing to begin her collegiate career at Texas, while Hill is set to play at Angelo State.
An infielder, Hill also pitched during the Victory Bowl, helping prevent the Red team from rebounding offensively after the Blue team’s breakout inning.
Hill emerges from the experience with memories of more than big hits and defensive stands, though.
“I’ve been playing ball with Malory since we were little girls,” she said. “She’s been my best friend since coach pitch, so it was nice to play with her one last time.
“And coach Craddick is a great coach, so it’s going to be different leaving Salado and having a new coach. I’m just glad he got to coach us one last time.”
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “We didn’t end our season the way we wanted to, so having another game with both of them made everything a lot better.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”