By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
From a seventh-inning rally against Bryan that fell just short on Monday to Tuesday's upset of Belton, it's been a rush of a week for the Shoemaker Lady Grey Wolves softball team.
Still, that wave has yet to peak.
Tonight the Lady Grey Wolves (18-13, 8-5) travel to district co-leader A&M Consolidated (22-9, 11-2) for their third game in five days and a chance at their first playoff appearance in school history.
The Lady Grey Wolves clinched a share of fourth place and guaranteed at least a playoff play-in against Temple on Saturday with their 4-3 win over Belton.
Shoemaker earns the fourth seed outright with a win or a Temple loss at Ellison tonight.
"That win put us on a better side of the coin than Temple," said Shoemaker softball coach Kelly Berg. "Going into A&M Consolidated is hard for anyteam in our district. Going down there knowing you have to win is even arder. (The Belton win) takes a little bit of that pressure off."
The win also opened the door for a lot of other teams in the district, including Consolidated. The Lady Tigers clinch at least a share of the District 12-5A title with a win and could claim the title outright with a Belton (20-11, 11-2) loss at third-seeded Bryan (16-15, 10-3).
Bryan could finish the regular season tied with Belton for second if it and Consolidated both win.
"We are in a bit better control of our future; they're playing for a district championship. You've got two teams with a lot to play for," Berg said.
"Usually, going into the last game the district's already sewn up. We havefive teams that have yet to determine the finish. That's the greatest thing that could happen to our district."
After dropping their District 12-5A opener to Temple at home, the Lady Grey Wolves won three straight before dropping their last three of the first loop to Belton, Bryan and Consolidated at home by a combined score of 25-6 and committed 14 errors.
Since their 10-3, six-error loss to Consolidated on March 31, the Lady Grey Wolves have won five of their last six, including a 3-1 record on the road beginning with a key 4-2, eight-inning win in Temple to start the second half of district.
"I don't think you can point to a single turning point, it was more like a switch being turned on," Berg said. "It was more of the team kind of woke up and realized 'hey, we can play better this.'
"We've been runner-up that last three years in a row. We're trying to do something our softball team has never done before. We're building a radition," Berg said.
To get past Consolidated and get into the playoffs, Berg added his Lady Grey Wolves need to make an early statement.
"We need to come out like we did against Belton," he said. "The key is going to be in the first three innings. We have to let Consolidated know we came here to win."
A run in the top of the first inning set the tone for the Lady Grey Wolves against Belton on Tuesday night. Even though Belton answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame, Shoemaker held Belton scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning, but by then the Grey Wolves had confidence and a 3-1 lead.
"We're Shoemaker High School. We're not supposed to go to Bryan or Belton or Consolidated and win. We're going to use a little bit of that, some of that chip on our shoulder as our advantage," Berg said.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.