By Alex Byington

Killeen Daily Herald

LAMPASAS - As she strode to the plate to start a game, Tealey Farquhar always had a plan.

A slap hitter by design, the Lampasas senior leadoff batter was going to be the spark that got her team going - by any means necessary.

"You have to have a swagger, you can't show that you're scared," Farquhar said. "And you just take it in."

Working through a routine - hitting slot, contact, extension and follow through - Farquhar had an uncanny ability to get on base, be it a bloop over the second baseman or a bunt single.

"It makes people excited, and when you get excited, the game gets more intense," she said. "When you start doing those things, it places more pressure on the defense and it kind of eases the pressure on the offense."

Once there, Farquhar was on to Stage 2 - get to second. And more times than not, usually following a cloud of dirt, the Lady Badgers speedster would be standing safe at second base before No. 2 hitter Kady Crow ever saw a pitch.

"I really don't even have to look at coach (Rusty Erwin) any more. If he doesn't give me the steal sign I'm still stealing anyway," Farquhar said. "And when I'm safe, it's that much better because you see everybody excited and cheering."

There was plenty to cheer about with Farquhar, who led Lampasas in nearly every offensive category, including batting a team-best .555 (.600 in Distric 25-3A play) with a 1.238 on base-plus-slugging percentage. She also slapped 71 hits (59 for singles), scored 46 runs, and stole a career-high 41 bases.

It was all she brought to the plate for Lampasas that earned Farquhar the nod as the Daily Herald's All-Area softball MVP.

The effort, along with those of her three fellow seniors, helped power the Lady Badgers to a second-straight Region IV-3A semifinal appearnace, only to fall once again to West Columbia Columbia, 9-6 in eight innings.

Newcomer of the Year - Dusti Douglas, Ellison: Thrust into the leadoff spot by the start of District 12-5A play, the freshman shortstop responded with quite the year at the plate, leading the upstart Lady Eagles in several offensive categories, including batting average (.473), OPS (1.159), hits (43), singles (33), triples (4) and stolen bases (19) while finishing second in RBIs (17).

Coach of the Year - Matt Blackburn, Belton: After graduating most of a senior-laden regional semifinalist squad, the playoff-savvy Blackburn knew this season would be a challenge. But after being blown out by Bryan 12-0 in five innings in their District 12-5A opener, the Lady Tigers once again found their way to the postseason. And despite getting in by the skin of their teeth, securing the fourth seed via a winner-take-all season finale against Ellison, Blackburn had Belton in the Region II-5A quarterfinals before the Lady Vikings bested him in the best-of-three series.

First team

Catcher: Ashley Hartwell, Copperas Cove - Splitting time on either side of the battery, Hartwell really shined behind the plate, where she threw out 19 of 23 base runners and batted .423 with 34 hits and a grand slam.

First Base: Alyson Bishoff, Belton - Able to pull the ball with ease, the District 12-5A first-team infielder led the Lady Tigers with six home runs, 35 RBIs and 15 doubles while cracking out 40 hits.

Second Base: Lorna Payne, Salado - A shortstop by trade, the Lady Eagles senior automatic from the plate, leading the way with a .523 average, a .754 slugging percentage, and a .571 average with runners in scoring position.

Third Base: Lauren Ramsey, Belton - Despite shifting throughout the infield during pitching changes, the versatile Ramsey led the Lady Tigers at the plate with a team-high 46 hits, including 36 singles and scoring 32 runs.

Shortstop: Hadley Brown, Lampasas - The four-year starter has been a staple at shortstop for the Lady Badgers, batting .379 with 31 runs, 27 RBIs and a team-leading seven triples out of the No. 3 hole.

Left Field: Shyenne Hicks, Salado - Batting in the middle of the Salado lineup, the sophomore always seemed to come through when it mattered, batting .347 with 5 home runs and 30 RBIs.

Center Field: Megan Chambers, Gatesville - The Hornets junior outfield captain batted .490, team-best 36 runs and 37 stolen bases with six RBIs, eight walks with a .529 on base percentage.

Right Field: Skylar Stewart, Belton - Batted .364 with 39 hits, 23 runs, and 19 RBIs while slapping in 27 singles and seven doubles for the Lady Tigers.

Designated Player: Irene Espinoza, Copperas Cove, - Continuing the long line of power-hitting shortstops for the Lady Bulldawgs, Espinoza smacked an area-best eight home runs with a .450 batting average.

Pitcher: Kady Crow, Lampasas - The pitcher of the year out of District 25-3A, was 26-9 this season and struck out 127 batters and boasted a 1.79 ERA in 211 1/3 innings pitched. The senior also came through at the plate, batting .404 with a team-leading 34 RBIs, 12 doubles and three triples.

Second team

P - Alyssa Castro, Ellison

C - Shelby Hitt, Belton

1B - Katelyn Moseley, Salado

2B - Jenna Franz, Salado

3B - Ashlyn Osborne, Harker Heights

SS - Lauren Nichols, Gatesville

LF - Leah Jones, Killeen

CF - Jaycee Summers, Gatesville

RF - Ellianna Doubleday, Copperas Cove

DP - Becca Alcozer, Belton

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