The nation’s No.1-ranked softball team proved to be too much for the Comets, as East Texas Baptist (ETBU) overran UTD, 7-1, in the American Southwest Conference championship game May 1.
ETBU scored three runs in the second and two more in the third and never looked back. UTD could only muster one run on seven hits.
“I think overall I’m very happy with the season. As a competitor you hate to lose, but we made some great strides,” Head Coach Tricia Hoffmann said.
To qualify for the championship game, the Comets had to beat a Texas Lutheran (TLU) team that had beaten them 3-0 the day before. UTD’s bats came alive to stave off elimination in the 9-0 mercy-rule slaughtering of TLU.
“We were viewing it as payback and wanted to knock a team out of the tournament,” Hoffmann said. “I think the girls just had a little more fire in the second game. One of my goals was to make it an All-East division final.”
Senior center fielder Shaunna Lawrence, senior left fielder Tiffany Maynard and freshman third baseman Amanda Craig each picked up two hits and senior first baseman Candace Felts drove in a pair.
“There were a lot of people who contributed in a lot of different ways. We didn’t have one superstar player who we had to count on in every game,” Hoffmann said.
On the first day, the Comets fought back after dropping the opener to TLU to subdue Mary Hardin-Baylor (MHB) 3-1. Pitching was the name of the game as senior Christina Sass teamed up with freshman Daci DeLeon to quiet MHB’s offensive noise.
So unhittable was DeLeon that she struck out 9 of the 11 batters she faced.
That performance netted DeLeon All-tournament honors. Also selected were Lawrence, Craig and senior shortstop Laura Hatfield.
Hoffmann, who all season has encouraged her team with a do-it-for-the-seniors mentality, faces next year without the core group of girls who have been UTD softball since its inception but is optimistic about the incoming class.
“They’re tough to replace, not only by their skills but by their leadership, but we already have 10 commitments for next year,” Hoffmann said. “We’re looking to build a tradition here.”