EVANS – Evans is gearing up for another state title run but had to get past district rival Simpson first.
The Lady Eagles took care of business to pick up the 17-2 victory in three innings Tuesday night at home.
"Our end goal is Sulphur, but what I know is at Sulphur is Plainview," Evans head coach Floyd Stark said. "You can't give them extra outs and can't give them extra bases. We have to fix that."
No. 13 Simpson had two starters returning from the team that went to the state semifinals last season but are using this season to learn.
"I have some girls that have a never-quit attitude, and I think that is a good indication what the future holds for the Simpson Lady Broncos softball team," Simpson head coach Jessica Dooley said. "One of the main things we focused on this season is that there are going to be games that you're going to be down, and it's up to you whether or not you're going to stay down and feel sorry for yourself or pick yourself back up."
At this point last season, the Lady Eagles were making the trip to Sulphur, but the state schedule changed to where only the semifinals and finals are at Frasch Park.
"I don't mind since we get the game here," Stark said. "It's going to be a competitive game, and our kids are still fighting and want to play. I have a big group of seniors that are still hungry."
The Lady Broncos took an early 1-0 lead after pitcher Tajah Bennett scored in the top of the first inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Evans (18-7) answered with two RBI singles by Sadie Jeane and Billy Brook Payne to take the lead.
Evans pitcher Jewel Sharbeno struck on the next three batters and six of the next eight to stifle the Simpson offense.
"She's been one of those franchise-type players," Stark said. "Jewel is a senior and it has been nice to call pitches for her."
In the bottom of the second, the Evans offense took off, scoring nine runs and taking advantage of Simpson miscues.
"We preach shorten up with two strikes," Stark said. "I wanted them to fight, because I told them that in life there are times where you have to fight for everything."
Bennett scored on a pass ball for the Lady Broncos, but the Lady Eagles added six runs – capped off with a 3-run double by Kristie Jeane – to trigger the 15-run rule.
The loss marks the end of the softball careers for Bennett, Keely Moore and Chloe Reagan.
"She is a fantastic centerfielder but because things changed, we had to make adjustments," Dooley said of Bennett. "She said 'I'll pitch and do what is best for my team.' I can't say enough about her as a senior and a leader. She's done a really good job."
No. 4 Evans will take on No. 5 Georgetown at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at home for a chance to advance to the Class C State Semifinals.