By Melissa McCaghren
The Slaton Tigerette team knew they’d have a fun, but challenging series facing the Lamesa Golden Tornadoes in the Area round of playoffs.
In the end, the Tigerettes saw their season come to an end for 2021, losing the series 2-1.
The Tigerettes lost their first game 1-13, then went on to win the second 10-7 last Thursday (May 6), before losing the third and deciding game 2-12 Saturday (May 8).
“We knew going in that Lamesa was a good team and we would have to play well. Overall, we made too many mistakes and I did not do a good enough job getting us ready to do the little things that it takes to beat a good team,” said Langston.
The first game, as was the third, were decided by run rule in the fifth inning.
That said, Langston worked to encourage the team to gather themselves together so their series didn’t end on Thursday.
“After losing game one the way we did, it is really tough for a team to come back 20 minutes later and bounce back but I told our girls ‘our backs were against the corner and had to come out swinging’ and that’s exactly what they did. They came out and scored seven runs in the first two innings and ended up coming away with a win in game two,” said Langston.
He was a bit more direct as to what happened in the third game.
“Saturday we came out and just did not get the job done,” Langston said.
Though their season ended much earlier than 2019, where the team made history as the first ever Regional Semifinalists, Langston said he had a great group of kids.
Ones who worked hard to bounce back from a rough 2-5 season start.
“Our Seniors knew we were not doing what we needed to do to win ball games and so they called a team meeting and discussed the expectations and what we needed to do to win and turn things around,” Langston said.
“When you have a team that polices their selves and takes ownership, it makes it a lot easier to coach and to be successful,” he added. “There were some rough patches as always but these girls never backed down from a challenge and always seemed to respond when we needed them to.”
One patch gone this year was not having the season canceled again due to COVID.
“It felt good to be semi-back to normal and getting to play games and enjoy being a kid,” said Langston. “They were a really close group of kids, enjoyed hanging out together outside of softball and had movie nights together regularly.”
With the end of the season also came the end of five seniors’ high school careers: Natali Soto, Genesis Ortiz, Justyne Zapata, Erica Brooks and Chloe Griffith. Manager Clarissa Perales will also graduate.
Langston had nothing but good things to say about all the seniors, who he said were true leaders of the team.
“Nata Soto was our starting catcher, she brings a lot of energy and heart to the team and will speak up when needed,” he said.
“Genesis Ortiz became a huge part of our team with her defense in left field and using her speed on the offensive side to get on base and score runs at the top of our lineup.
“Justyne Zapata was kind of our main leader. She would say what needed to be said and girls listened when she talked, starting at short stop for us most of the year and pitching some while also being a big bat in our lineup.
“Erica Brooks was kind of quiet leader, she came out and did what she was suppose to, came a long way with being consistent at the bottom of our lineup and is a bat that seemed to lead off innings and would find a way on to get us going from the nine hole,” he added.
“Then Chloe Griffith was our DP, good goofy kid who kept people laughing and when she made contact with the ball it was going somewhere hard and fast.
“Over the last four years, these seniors have helped lead us to a 83-44 record while bringing home three Bi-District Championships, an Area Championship and a Regional Quarterfinals Championship.”
While he admits he hasn’t quite thought about next year because he’s “not very good at losing” Langston said he saw a lot of potential coming in next year’s class.
“Our Junior class is really deep and we have some younger pieces that I think will be ready to step up. We have some big shoes to fill from our seniors that are graduating, but this year’s group had some really big shoes to fill as well and they were able to,” said Langston.
“It is always a next girl up mentality and with the Seniors the last few years they have carried on our expectations.
“From the seniors six years ago, they started laying the foundation and expectations of the program and each year the girls have continued to build on to it so it will be up to the girls next year to continue to build on that and keep things moving in the right direction.”
Slaton finishes their season with a 21-10 record. They were second in District behind Idalou and were Bi-District Champions.