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Shiner to take on Grapeland for title

By aalvarado
June 3, 2011 at 1:03 a.m.

Shiner's Ashley Shimek delivers a pitch during Thursday morning's Class 1A state semifinal game against Lindsay High School  in Austin. The Comanches defeated the Lady Knights 16-4 in five innings.

AUSTIN - The Class 1A state softball championship will be decided Saturday when Shiner meets Grapeland at McCombs Field.

The game will be a contrast in experience, as some of Shiner's key players played in the state final the last time around.

"They're a real scrappy team and athletically they're similar to us in that nature," said Shiner coach Brandon Siegel.

Grapeland won the District 23-1A championship and knocked off Shelbyville, Garrison and Mount Enterprise in the playoffs before being taken to three games in the regional finals by Beckville.

Shiner last made the state tournament in 2008, when they won the state championship. Holly Haas and Ashley Shimek received valuable state final playing time in Shiner's 11-1 win over Bosqueville that year.

Haas went 2-for-3 with three RBIs while Shimek filled in as a courtesy runner.

"They know how to approach it and help the younger ones know how to approach each game," Siegel said.

Last season Grapeland lost in the regional finals and they approach the state final with nothing to lose.

"We're here, we're playing the last one and I hope we got one more good one in us," said Grapeland coach K.L. Groholski.

Although they have only one senior on the team, that senior played a big role.

Summer Groholski, K.L.'s daughter, has pitched the Sandiettes to the state finals for the first time.

Summer has a record of 27-8 and was hitting .492 coming into the state tournament.

After Shiner's win over Lindsay in the semifinals, Siegel said he stayed and watched Grapeland play Albany in the semifinal. He was impressed at how Summer moves the ball in and out of the zone and hits her spots.

"We're going to have to be really disciplined and know what the strike zone is and make sure we don't help her out," Siegel said.

Summer will play next season at the University of Houston.

Because Grapeland's commencement conflicted with the state tournament, Summer received her high school diploma in a post game ceremony at home plate after the Sandiettes 8-3 win over Albany.

The Grapeland lineup is potent as five hitters came into the state tournament hitting over .400 and all nine batters average over .300.

Jalla Johnson leads Grapeland. She had a .464 average coming into the state tournament.

Although Shiner didn't accumulate the numbers coming into the state tournament that their opponents did, the Lady Comanches look to keep their groove in the batters box after a huge game in the semifinals.

Against Lindsay, every player in the lineup reached base, and all but one player had a hit.

"They're worthy of that state championship, we're going to have to be at our A game to beat them," K.L. said.

Haas led Shiner going 4-for-4 with 6 RBIs. Siegel said a repeat hitting performance like that would be huge because Grapeland wouldn't be forced to pitch around a few batters in the lineup.

"It takes the pressure of me knowing that at any point any one of the nine batters I have in the lineup can produce," Siegal said.

Although both teams are ranked highly in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association softball polls, at this time of year it's more about bringing home a trophy than knocking off a top seed.

For Shiner this is a welcome relief.

"The pressure of being No. 1 and keeping the No. 1 ranking was minimized for us," Siegel said about the late playoff rounds.

Shiner and Grapeland will play in the first state final of the day at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.



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