Emotions ran high Friday as the Hays Rebel softball team not only secured a share of the 25-6A crown with a 4-1 senior night win over the Del Valle Cardinals, but also honored late teammate Brynn Aylor.
“You know we opened up our new field, and I think it was our second home district game and we’ve been undefeated at home ever since,” Hays head coach Lisa Cone said. “It’s just a great way to end the regular season play, and it was a very special night to get to have Brynn’s family come out and get to celebrate senior night with us. It was special for the girls as well.”
In addition to honoring the eight seniors on the roster, Cone and the team invited Aylor’s family onto the field during the pregame ceremony with the other seniors and their families. Aylor, who passed away in a wreck along FM 2770 near Buda in 2017, would have been a senior this season.
“It was awesome,” senior Maxine Valdez said about senior night. “I mean, I feel like we play for her (Aylor) every night, but tonight the most because it’s senior night and she should be out here with us.”
Once the game began, Valdez remained calm and collected in the circle as she only allowed two hits, one run and one walk, while also striking out 13 Cardinal batters in a complete game performance.
“She was really effective,” Cone said. “I feel like she really had great command on her rise and her screwball tonight. Even the dropball was working, I didn’t call that pitch as much but it kept them off balance enough.”
Rebel bats were spotty early on as they only had six hits as a team for the game. However, one of their biggest hits came in the bottom of the fourth inning when senior Amaya Guerrero launched a double deep to left field that scored two runs.
“I knew she was pitching me inside the first at bat, so my second at bat I was like okay she’s going to pitch it be ready,” Guerrero said. “At first when I hit it I was like ‘dang its a pop up’, but everyone was like ‘keep going back, keep going back’ and when she dropped it I was just excited. It was a good feeling.”
Hays senior Brianna Rodriguez swatted an RBI double to the left centerfield gap in the bottom of the sixth inning to score a pair of runs and give the Rebels some breathing room.
“We’ve been practicing all week on hitting the ball, I knew it was coming and we faced her last time,” Rodriguez said. “I was just ready.”
The postseason is now on the horizon for Hays. On Monday, Hays topped Austin High 2-0 in a contest to determine the top seed in 25-6A. With the win, Cone also secured her 300th career victory.
Hays takes on San Antonio East Central in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Game one of the three game series will be played at San Antonio East Central High at 7 p.m. Thursday. Game two, and an if-necessary third game, will be played as a double header at the new Rebel softball field at Hays High Friday at 7 p.m.
Following last season’s bitter area round exit at the hands of New Braunfels Canyon in the playoffs last season, Cone said her program hopes to make a deeper run in 2019.
“I can’t wait, I’m excited,” Valdez said. “I wanted to go long this year, senior year, let’s go all out.”