The two highest-ranked teams in Class 5A softball proved once again they were worthy of that respect times 10.
No. 1 Angleton and Barbers Hill played the third and final game of the best-of-three Class 5A Region 3 Final at the University of Houston Saturday with a trip to Austin and a state semifinal on the line.
It will not be Barbers Hill’s trip to make.
In arguably one of best high school softball games and series played anywhere at any time, Angleton held on by the narrowest margins, holding off another of a litany of rallies this weekend to escape with a well-earned 9-8 victory.
“Obviously we don’t feel very good, it was definitely not where we expected to end our season,” Barbers Hill head coach Aaron Fuller said.
Angleton came out playing the role of No. 1 heavies and expectedly with something to prove after Thursday’s 5-4 loss in Game 2. They quickly scored two runs off of Samantha Landry thanks to a round-tripper to start off the game.
But Barbers Hill shrugged it off in its first at-bat as Matee Simon doubled, Stephanie Niemann singled and then University of Pittsburgh signee Rebecca Miller put the Lady Eagles up 3-2 with her own fence-clearing missile.
Not a bad way to start the most important game of the season.
The middle of the Wildcats lineup stepped in to focus in the third inning and did what they did all weekend: Create runs.
A double and a tricky-hop single against Landry tied the game at 3-all.
Oh, hum, Barbers Hill just had to get a bit more hyped up and that is never a problem.
Sydney Hoyt singled, Hayley Freudenberg reached on a sharply struck ball that turned into an Angleton error and then came Miller time.
The senior blasted another pulverizing hit that would make a Thanos punch look like a slap with a glove and her three-run dinger put Barbers Hill up 6-3 in the bottom of the third inning.
Once again the Wildcat heart of the lineup struck again. In the fifth, Angleton scored two runs and Landry was replaced by Sophia Simpson.
Simpson faced one batter and Jessica Mullins relieved her in the circle. When the Wildcats were done, they left the frame with a 7-6 lead.
Angleton added two runs in the seventh to pad its advantage and set the stage for a dramatic Barbers Hill rally in its last at-bat.
Miller was walked intentionally, Kaylee Hornberger singled and Landry got on via a Wildcat error and the two girls scored in front of her to make it 9-8 with only one out.
With two outs, a high chopper by Amber Thibodeaux allowed her to beat the throw to first base and the Lady Eagles had runners on the corners with their last out staring them down.
Simon would strike out one pitch after a potential game-winning double down the left field line was foul by six inches.
“We knew all year we were on a collision course to meet Angleton here in the finals,” Fuller said. “This series here didn’t disappoint anybody, other than us for not winning. You saw three heavyweight games by two talented teams just going back and forth all weekend. It came down right there by what, six inches or so.
“If that ball is six more inches to the right we are celebrating and heading to Austin next week. Even though we finished our season, they should be proud of what they have accomplished this year.”