For a moment on Saturday evening, senior Kaitlyn Secor remained frozen on the infield dirt, quietly staring at her equally shocked Tivy softball teammates.
They all were overcome with joy, trying their best to soak in their 8-7 victory over Uvalde in Game 3 of their area-round series in Devine.
It had been a turbulent series. The Lady Antlers won the first game, 7-4, at Uvalde on Tuesday, only to fall, 10-5, at home in the second game two days later. Momentum then swayed back and forth between the two teams during Saturday’s rubber match. First, the Lady Antlers trailed, 2-0. Then, they led, 7-3, only to watch Uvalde melt that advantage in one run in the seventh.
Ultimately, the Lady Antlers survived, advancing to the regional quarterfinals for the first time since 2001. The realization only froze Secor for a second. Before long, she was trying to embrace everyone within her sight.
“All I wanted to do was just hug my teammates, family and everyone that was there,” Secor said. “I was so excited. … We were all really happy, thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we just did this. This is so amazing.’”
Secor helped create Saturday’s amazing experience. Her performance in the circle was a big reason why the Lady Antlers were celebrating advancing to the next round on Saturday instead of saying farewell to each other. She pitched in all three games, posting a 4.26 ERA in 19 innings during the series.
On Thursday, She was whacked in the hand by a line drive, but still continued pitching. On Saturday, she didn’t know she was going to be the starting pitcher until moments before first pitch. She felt the pressure that comes with pitching in a elimination game, but wasn’t overwhelmed by it, holding the Lobos’ dangerous lineup to three runs.
“Kaitlyn is really tough on the mound,” Tivy pitching coach Megan Aragones said. “She’s a fierce competitor, and that helps. But also, she’s mentally strong, and you need that to play that position. You can’t show emotion, whether the game is going well or if it’s not going your way. She does a good of fighting for each pitch and staying in her zone when she’s in the circle.”
Her performance during the area round shouldn’t be too surprising; she’s pitched at a high level all season, posting a 1.39 ERA during district play. She isn’t an overpowering pitcher, but she’s crafty, inducing groundouts and pop outs from opponents. She holds routine meetings with Aragones, figuring out which pitches are working and which ones need improvement. And she establishes personal goals before every game.
She accomplished a major goal on Saturday. Secor and the Lady Antlers, though, didn’t have much time to celebrate the milestone. On Monday, they were already preparing for their one-game series against No. 3 Dripping Springs (35-2).
“I never really thought we could get this far,” Secor said. “I knew we had it, but in the past years, we never pulled it off. And this year, we did. This will forever be a memory in my life.
It’s going to be a good game, and it’s going to be a fun one to watch. I am really excited for it.”
Here are the other four game ball recipients
Hannah Delgado — Tivy — Softball
Tivy’s six seniors have received a lot of credit for the Lady Antlers’ historic season, and deservedly so. But Hannah Delgado has assembled a strong sophomore season. Batting in the No. 5 spot in the lineup, she’s hitting .551 with 19 extra-base hits.
She produced her biggest hit of the year on Saturday, belting a three-run home run in the third to give Tivy a 7-3 lead.
Cole Miears — Tivy — Baseball
Miears did a little bit of everything during Tivy’s bi-district series against Austin LBJ last week. He pitched a gem in Game 2, entering the first inning in relief with the bases loaded. He maneuvered out of the jam, and then continued to befuddle LBJ’s lineup, limiting the Jaguars to three hits while striking out seven.
He also produced at the plate, registering four hits in nine at-bats and reaching base seven times in 12 plate appearances.
His performance this weekend shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, the postseason seems to bring out the best in Miears. The Antlers (25-10) are hoping that trend continues when they begin a three-game series with Alamo Heights on Friday in Jourdanton.
Andrew Stieler — Tivy — Pole Vaulting
Stieler didn’t actually participate in any athletic events the past week. So why exactly is he getting a game ball? Because on Friday, he and fellow junior Brooks McCoy will be the first Tivy athletes since 2017 to compete at the state track and field meet in Austin. (Fun fact: Kathryn Stieler, Andrew’s older sister, competed in the 400 meter race at the 2017 state meet).
Andrew Stieler qualified for the state meet after he cleared 14-09.00 feet to win gold at the Region IV meet on April 24. To earn a medal on Friday, he’ll likely have to eclipse 16 feet. His personal record is currently 15-07.00, but he’s cleared 16 feet several times during practice this season.
Brooks McCoy — Tivy — Track and Field
McCoy will be competing in the triple jump on Friday after earning a silver meet in the event at the regional meet. He also was one of the main leaders during Tivy football’s Antler Week, encouraging his teammates through exhausting exercises. That’s why he earned the final game ball.
He also celebrated his 17th birthday on Monday, so be sure to wish him a happy belated birthday if yousee him around town this week.