New-look Hallettsville faces familiar foe in playoffs
By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
May 3, 2012 at 12:03 a.m.
Updated May 4, 2012 at 12:04 a.m.
HALLETTSVILLE - In 2011, Hallettsville lost its only playoff game.
During the offseason, it lost much more.
The Lady Brahmas were forced to undergo a dramatic transformation during the summer as five seniors graduated from the District 28-2A championship team.
With a number of holes in his roster, Hallettsville head coach Mike Mikeska was forced to do a lot of evalution and relocation of players heading into the current season.
The process was tedious, but after a number of tweaks and adjustments, the coach feels his team is peaking at the right time: the postseason.
"There was a lot of learning involved on their part, as well as mine," Mikeska said. "(The assistant coaches) and myself have had many meetings after practice on who we think is doing a better job here and who we think is doing a better job there.
"For the most part, we think we have everyone playing where they should be now, and I'm liking the product I'm seeing."
The Lady Brahmas concluded their regular season with an overall record of 14-15, finishing third in district before defeating Little River-Academy in a three-game bi-district playoff series that went the distance.
Despite all the detours along the way, surprisingly, the Lady Brahmas find themselves in the exact same position they were in one year ago.
Hallettsville plays Industrial - the team responsible for ending the Lady Brahmas' season and the high school careers of five of their players - in the area round beginning Friday.
"We want revenge," junior pitcher Megan Henke said. "We lost in (our) first round, so it was really disappointing last year."
The series will be played at the Victoria Youth Sports Complex. Game 1 will take place Friday at 7 p.m. with Game 2 scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday and Game 3, if necessary, following.
With only six upperclassmen on the team, the Lady Brahmas are an extremely young squad, fielding eight sophomores and two freshmen.
Although the team is relatively raw, Hallettsville's lone senior starter Mikayla Konvicka believes the group has good chemistry on the diamond.
As one of just two seniors on the team, the right fielder was required to take on added responsibilities, but is relieved her teammates assumed leadership roles as well.
"I feel like I need to be a role model for these girls and be a leader," Konvicka said. "Its made me realize how important everyone is to this team.
"But everyone is getting a chance to experience that responsibility as well."
Another change from last year is the Lady Brahmas enter the series against Industrial as the underdogs this season.
Hallettsville earned an opening-round bye in 2011 before facing the Cobras, who finished third in District 26-2A, in a one-game series Industrial won 4-1.
This postseason, the new look Lady Brahmas will face an Industrial team that went 20-6 overall and 10-0 in district to earn a bye in the bi-district round.
The Lady Brahmas, on the other hand, needed three games to dispose of Little River-Academy. Hallettsville won the opener 5-1, then lost Game 2 15-5, but bounced back to win the series with a 16-6 victory in Game 3.
Although Hallettsville intends to take command of the series against Industrial by winning Game 1, Mikeska believes his fresh-faced players have the maturity and resiliency to win the next two if required to do so.
"We won Game 1 (against Little River-Academy) and then lost Game 2 and got run ruled," the coach said. "Then we got down 5-0 in Game 3, and we could have rolled up the tent and called it a year, but they fought back and they prevailed."