Out of the hundreds of teams in Texas that participate in Class 3A softball, only four hit the practice field Monday, to prepare for the state tournament in Austin. East Texas' own Hughes Springs was one of them.
"At the beginning of the season, all throughout the season, I've never doubted our team. We have all the potential to do it, and we did it," said senior right-fielder Katelyn Roth.
Making the first state tournament appearance in Lady Mustangs history, the team's coach said she knew that this moment was coming for some time.
"I tell everyone, I remember watching these juniors and these sophomores go into a little ball tournament where they were in the sixth and fifth grade. I remember texting my assistant at the time and telling him we have six kids down here that are in the sixth grade that could start on our varsity right now. Ever since then it's been a blessing," said Tisha Thompson, Hughes Springs softball head coach.
Stepping on McCombs Field at the University of Texas Wednesday to face Little Academy, these Lady Mustangs will look to make more history with their first ever state tournament win. They plan to do that by doing what they've been doing all season long: playing for each other.
"Camaraderie. We work good together, we got good leadership, and we all want it," said Roth.
"We've instilled in them, since the beginning of the year, to not play for yourself, [but] to play for the team. Whatever the team needs you to do, you need to do it for the team. They have bought into that, and when they do that, I don't think anyone can beat that," said Coach Thompson.
But as one of just two teams throughout all classifications representing East Texas at state, these Hughes Springs athletes know they have one more reason to leave it all on the field.
"We tell them we need to play for our school, our community, and now we aren't just playing for Hughes Springs, we are playing for East Texas. Trying to bring a title back home to all of East Texas," said Coach Thompson.
"We really do take pride in that. All of East Texas supports us, and we have people from other schools supporting us. So we are doing it for everyone, not just ourselves," said Roth.
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