For the first time in six years, the Dripping Springs Tiger softball team will trek the 28 miles to McCombs Field and the UIL State Tournament in Austin.
Dripping Springs punched its ticket to the program’s first state tournament since 2011 by eliminating the Richmond Foster Falcons in three thrilling Region IV, 5A final games at Weimar High. Dripping Springs’ series win was punctuated with a come-from-behind 4-3 win in Game 3 Friday.
Tiger sophomore Ryann Campbell delivered the series winning run when she belted an RBI triple with two outs in the top of the seventh inning of Game 3.
In the circle, senior Kiele Miller, who pitched in all but two of the 21 innings of the series, closed Game 3 and the series with her fifth strikeout of that contest.
“We beat an incredibly tough and talented team,” Tiger head coach Wade Womack said. “For (the players) to do what they did, with the momentum (Foster) had…I’ve been doing this for a long time, and that’s probably the most impressive display of guts I’ve had in 500 and whatever games I’ve coached in my 14 year career.”
But hours earlier, the Tigers were on the brink of elimination after Foster notched a dramatic 1-0 win in Game 1 Thursday.
Much like the first game of the series, Friday’s Game 2 was a pitching duel between Miller and Foster’s Kacie Pryor.
Dripping Springs battled Pryor, who kept the Tigers limited to one base hit in the first three innings of Game 2.
Despite Pryor’s prowess, the Tigers manufactured the game’s only run in the fourth inning. An RBI sacrifice ground ball by Dani Northrup scored Riley Dunn, which gave Dripping Springs a 1-0 lead they held the rest of the way.
Foster, however, responded to take a early 1-0 lead in Game 3. An RBI single from Northrup tied the game at 1-1 in the second inning.
Two Falcon runs scored in the bottom of the third inning gave Foster a 3-1 lead and momentum.
Struggles in delivering a clutch hit with Tigers on the base paths hampered Dripping Springs at times in Game 3, with the team leaving 10 on base in the contest.
That trend changed in the fifth inning when the Tigers tallied two runs on three hits, anchored by an RBI double from senior Haley Odell and an RBI single from sophomore Bailey Hudgeons.
But Foster’s persistent offense kept battling, which led to a chance to take the lead with a runner at third base and two outs in the bottom of the sixth. A Miller strikeout ended the threat and gave Dripping Springs momentum.
With a runner on first base and two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Campbell didn’t let the momentum go to waste. For Campbell, a hunch that Pryor was going to pitch to the outside of the plate paid dividends.
“I needed to somehow find a way to make the run score or just get on base to help the team out,” Campbell said. “When she was pitching outside, I was like, “Okay, the only way to get on base or move the runner is to go with the pitch,’ and that’s what I did.”
With the win, Dripping Springs advances to the UIL state semifinal, which will be played June 2 at McCombs Field in Austin. Time and opponent for Dripping Springs’ semifinal contest has not been determined.