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Area softball teams to face off in Victoria

May 19, 2010 at 12:19 a.m.


HALLETTSVILLE'S POSSIBLE PITCHERSCherise Klekar, junior, pitcherOne of the most notable things about the junior pitcher, left, is that she's unflappable, said coach Mike Mikeska. She puts her team at ease with her attitude, and is having a good time on the field no matter the score or how much pressure the Lady Brahmas may be under.

Lauren Steffek, senior, pitcher/third baseSteffek, one of the Lady Brahmas two pitchers, gives Mikeska two very different options in the circle. In contrast to Klekar's style, who relies on harder stuff, Steffek's pitching is a major change of pace from what many teams are used to seeing. There is a possibility that junior Stephanie Butschek, who saw action in the circle this season as well, could pitch again.

HALLETTSVILLE LADY BRAHMAS (16-9, 10-0)Last year's Class 2A state runner up, Hallettsville hit its stride around the start of the district season after starting the year shaky. The Lady Brahmas ran the table in District 26-2A, going 10-0 and earning a first-round bye. The Lady Brahmas are looking to repeat their trip to Austin, and so far have played like its a given, beating Karnes City 11-1 in the area round, then beating Poth, a team then ranked in the top-five by the TGCA, in three games.

REFUGIO LADY CATS (20-5, 8-0)Refugio won District 30-2A for the second straight season, going 8-0 in district and finishing the regular season with an overall record of 20-5. They also had a chance of excising their demons from last season's playoffs, knocking off Natalia in two games. The Lady Cats followed that up a week later by eating Industrial in two games to set up Thursday's series opener with Hallettsville. This is the farthest the team has gotten in the softball playoffs. Key to the game, said coach David Cruhm, is going to be the fundamentals the team has worked on all season long.

REFUGIO'S POSSIBLE PITCHERSChelsea Lara, sophomore, pitcherLara, right, has been key to the Lady Cats' fortunes this season as the team's top pitchers. She's started most of the games, and her electric stuff has been enough to keep hitters at bay all season.

"I see what works for me, and I see what doesn't," she said. "If that round doesn't work, then the next round they come up to bat, I know what I'm going to throw."

Lara, who is in her first year as the team's primary pitcher, played left field primarily last season when she was on the field, but spent a lot of it on the bench, she said.

Being able to contribute to beating Natalia was big, Lara said.

"It felt good to be able to step up," she said. "It's been great knowing that I sat on the bench the whole season, and then coming up and beating Natalia."

There is a chance that freshman Cecilia Bauer could pitch also.

HALLETTSVILLE'S PLAYERS TO WATCH

Timishia North, senior: The slick-fielding spark plug for the Lady Brahmas moved to shortstop this season after spending last season in center field. The leadoff hitter for Hallettsville uses her speed on both sides of the game, vacuuming up balls hit into the hole and legging out stolen bases and singles. She hit .435 in the regular season with 14 stolen bases and 31 RBIs.

Stephanie Butschek, junior: The Lady Brahmas top power hitter, Butschek has home run power and has made good use of it. She hit three homers in the regular season, with a batting average of .348.

Lindsey Steffek, senior: The team's catcher is capable of playing multiple positions, and at the start of the season did early in the year as the Lady Brahmas adjusted to the senior losses from last season's team. She hits toward the top of the lineup, and is good at setting the table for the batters behind her.

HALLETTSVILLE VS. REFUGIOREGIONAL SEMIFINALS

All three games at O'Connor Sports Complex

Thursday, 7 p.m. - Friday 7 p.m. - Saturday, if necessary, 11 a.m.

DEFENSE

One of the Lady Cats great strengths this season has been its defense, said junior catcher Kristen Wise, and it will be central to their success against Hallettsville.

2010 REFUGIO LADY CATS

Likely starters:

Chelsea Lara, sophomore

Kristen Wise, junior

Jami Wiginton, senior

Shelby Bellows, junior

Haley Brynelson, junior

Cassandra Ramirez, junior

Alexa Montemayor, junior

Cecilia Bauer, freshman

Shelby Quintanilla, senior

Reserves:

Michelle Rosas, freshman

Kristyn Resendez, senior

Nina Rodriguez, infielder

Katie Bernal, junior

HALLETTSVILLE LADY BRAHMAS ROSTER

Likely starters:

Cherise Klekar, junior

Lindsey Steffek, senior

Lauren Steffek, senior

Megan Busselman, junior

Stephanie Butschek, junior

Keleigh Grahmann, junior

Brittany Targax, senior

Timishia North, senior

Kellan Werner, senior

Reserves:

Paige Leopold, junior

Brooke Henneke, senior

Carla Harrold, junior

Megan Henke, freshman

Tierra Haynes, freshman

Refugio and Hallettsville aren't too far apart. Both are in the playoffs for the second straight season after running the table during the district season, and both overcame major hurdles to get to this point. The Lady Cats got past Natalia in two tense games in the area round, while Hallettville beat top-ranked Poth to get to this point.

For the Lady Cats, it's their first trip this far into the playoffs, but they are taking it with a coolness in practice that would suggest they've been this far before. Hallettsville has been this far before, and keeps things loose with a loud dugout and persistent smiles.

The two teams square off starting Thursday at 7 p.m. at O'Connor Sports Complex in Victoria. Here's what to watch in this best-of-three series:

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