Early in the 2014 season, both senior Morgan Hill and sophomore Malory Schattle thought the Salado Lady Eagles softball team would enjoy season-long success.
“We started off playing pretty well early,” Hill said. “Our first tournament was in Longview and we played well and I thought, ‘This could really be a very good team we have here.’ ”
“I knew at the beginning of the year this could be a special season,” Schattle said. “We were playing schools a lot bigger in size than us and we competed well with them. Once our district (22-2A) season started, I was thinking this season could be bigger than anything Salado has ever had in past years.”
That proved to be true.
Salado ended up advancing to the regional championships for the first time in school history.
The southpaw Hill was the pitching ace for Salado. The biggest hitters were Schattle and senior Shyenne Hicks.
“But it was a total team effort,” Hicks said.
Schattle and Hill concurred.
“People often tried to pitch around Shyenne and myself, but that was tough to do because the girls behind us would come through with big hits,” Schattle said.
“This was a total team effort,” Hill said. “We all got along so well and that helped us play better.”
After district play concluded, Salado was pitted against Clifton in Round 1.
“Nobody was expecting much from us,” Hill said. “We kept hearing that we couldn’t beat anybody.”
The Lady Eagles swept Clifton 2-0.
Then came a one-game showdown with Teague in the area round. In that 5-1 Salado win, Schattle had a clutch double, Hicks had three RBIs and Hill hurled a 14-strikeout, complete-game masterpiece, yielding just two hits and no earned runs.
Next was Bruceville-Eddy in the regional quarterfinals.
Salado won the opener 7-5 and clinched the series with a 5-4 victory.
“When we beat Bruceville-Eddy, I knew we were really on our way to doing something big,” Hicks said.
“We knew Bruceville-Eddy was good,” Schattle said. “Once we got past them, we all knew we were doing something special here.”
“The playoffs were so much fun for us because we kept making Salado history,” Hill said. “We kept winning even though others kept doubting us. But we knew we could keep going.”
And they did.
Woodville was ranked No. 5 in the state, Salado No. 10 when they squared off in the regional semifinals at Aggies Softball Stadium in College Station.
Hicks and Schattle each had three RBIs in a 10-3, Game 1 stomping of Woodville.
“Our team didn’t shy away from playing in a big college stadium like they have at Texas A&M,” Hicks said. “In fact, we thrived in it.”
Two days later, Hill was again magnificent in the circle, firing a two-hit, six-strikeout, complete-game shutout. The 3-0 Game 2 win advanced Salado into the Elite Eight, one step away from its stated goal of making it to the state championships.
This magical ride eventually ended against Crawford on Saturday, the No. 1 team in the state. Salado took Game 1 and handed Crawford its first loss of its season. However Crawford rebounded, won two consecutive hard-fought contests and moved on.
“I think what I’ll remember most about this season was playing with such a great team,” Hill said. “It was also special for me to be able to finish off my senior year playing with my sister (sophomore second baseman) Meagan (Hill). All in all, the team as a whole was so close, too — that is something I will always remember.”
“The unity we had when we played was very unique,” Schattle said. “It’s not so common to see a team get along as well as this one did. That we all got along so well made this team special, and it was more fun than I could ever have imagined it would be.”
“We advanced further than any Salado team ever,” Hicks said. “We did what nobody ever thought we could do. I will remember this season forever.”
Contact Allan Mandell at email@example.com or 254-501-7566â€‹ and read his blog at KDHPressbox.com