Being and beaten ruised after an 11-1 run-rule loss to Cameron on March 30, Rockdale was staring at a 2-5 district ledger and a season that was on the precipice of slipping away. Lady Tiger coach Kristen Gunter took the opportunity to have a frank and honest discussion with her reeling team afterwards. “I gave them a little tough love,” she said, “and made them recognize their season was about to be over.” Five games later, Rockdale had reeled off five straight wins and earned the third playoff slot inDistrict 2 4 - 3 A behind Taylor and Cameron. And to add to the drama, the Lady Tigers had to defeat an unbeaten Lady Duck team to get in and they did, 3-2. “With the combination of that talk, Coach (Walt) Mangan coming com- on board and getting Kayleigh (Montelongo) back, the timing could not have been more perfect and on our side.”
While it has certainly been a team effort, there’s no doubt that Rockdale has been boosted by the presence of the freshman pitcher Montelongo, who missed most of the season recovering from a knee injury she suffered during basketball season.
Montelongo was not expected to play at all this season but made a speedy recovery and before a warm-up game loss to Brenham two weeks ago, was 3- 0 and averaging 10 strikeous a game.
Whatever the reason, the team has a new found bravado.
“I think physically and mentally we are peaking at the right time,” Gunter said. “Everything is falling into place for us and our confidence grows daily.”
The Mangan Gunter is refering to is her former coach when she was an All-American player at Brenham and is Rockdale’s newest coaching hire.
“I feel like at this point we are the team to beat,” she said. “Our girls have the heart and desire to fight for each game like it’s their last. Each day and game we have gotten better and I am looking forward to seeing how the team takes the field against Huffman-Hargraves. I know these girls are fired up and have something to prove.”
The Lady Tigers have not registered a playoff victory since 2006.
Every night is a Savannah Night for Huffman-Hargrave when Savannah Wiggins is in the lineup.
Wiggins—a Missouri State signee—is the No. 13 Lady Falcons’ (17-6) leader on the hill and at the plate.
The 5-foot-7 senior sports a 13-3 record with a miniscule 0.19 earned run average.
At bat, Wiggins is hitting .514 with 35 runs batted in.
“From everything we have seen about Huffman is that they have a good pitcher that can also hit,” Gunter said. “If we come out hitting and being aggressive at the plate I think we will be succesful.”
The Lady Falcons were the District 22-3A champions but enter the series with a twogame losing streak in tow, falling to Cleveland and Liberty in their final two district contests.
They lost to Cleveland 17-0 which handed them two of their three district losses.
Huffman-Hargrave also has a couple of gems on the positive side of the ledger—two wins over perennial power Splendora, which knocked the Lady Tigers out of the playoffs last season.
LADY TIGER TR ACKS— The Lady Tigers fell to Liberty Hill 9-4 Friday in a warmup game. Meagan Hearn went 4-for- 4 while Jill Young was 3-4 with two RBI as Rockdale blasted out 14 hits, but committed six errors... Rockdale Coach Kristen Gunter is a nominee for the UIL All-Century softball team. Gunter was an A ll-American catcher at Brenham. To vote for her, go the the UIL web site and click on the softball site.
ROCKDALE VS. HUFFMAN HARGRAVE
Who—Rockdale Lady Tigers (16-14)
vs. No. 13 Huffman Hargrave Lady
What—Class 3A. Region III, Area
When—Thursday and Friday, 6 p.m. (If
needed, third game will be played at
2 p.m. Saturday)
Where—Bryan High School
District—Rockdale finished third at
7-5; Huffman Hargrave was 22-3A
champion at 9-3.
Last playoff appearance—Rockdale
2009; Huffman-Hargrave 2009.
Lady Falcon to watch—Sr. pitcher
Savannah Wiggins (13-3, 0.19 ERA)
Tickets—$4 adults, $2 students