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May 12, 2010     Hays Free Press
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Page 2B SPORTS Hays Free Press * May 12,201Q Lobo fans donlt let cheers die despite playoff loss i / series obvious, but I think this shows our kids who willbe coming back that this program i definitely headed in the right dim/Ttion." BY MARK gAUL freepresssports@yahoo.com It had just what you'd expect from a playoff atmosphere - stu- dents covered in paint, kids and adults cheering their lungs out and doting mothers and fathers beaming with pride. The Lehman Lobos were about to make history on the field by playing in their first playoff base- ball series at Texas State Universi As the Village People's "YMCK' blared over the loudspeakers and the swelling crowd clapped and swayed along as the teams went through their pregame rituals, it was pretty evident that the stakes were a little bit higher than nor- mal. After a stirring rendition of the national anthem drew to a close and the teams were introduced by the announcer, the Lobos jogged out to their positions at cavernous Bobcat Field in San Marcos. When the Lobes retired the first three Brenham batters for a relatively flawless top of the first in- nin the Lehman fans were deaf- ening. "That's about as loud as I think I've ever heard a crowd this season get when they retired us in order in that first inning," Brenham head coach Jim Long said. "Their fans were definitely into the game at that point." At the bottom of the first inning, Lehman had something cooking as Cesar Omelas singled and Tre Abeita walked to give the Lobos an oppornmity to dmwfirst blood. But a couple of base-nmning The Lehman baseball team playoff game in program history. the right track heading into the f errors kept the Lobes from push- ing any runs across and Lehman seemed to struggle offensiVely from that point forward. : Despite the huge turnout of Leh- man fans who made their presence known e, it didn't take long for the fifth-ranked Cubs to flex their muscles and give the LobOs an ini- tiation to playoffbaseball. i ,, I Between the Unes Continued from pg. 1 B state tournament. There were many other memories I could have chosen. Eight years later in 2009, Hays faced its arch-rival, the DelValle Lady Cardinals, who the Lady Rebs battled many years for district dries. This time, however, another trip to state was on the line in the Class 4A Region III finals. Despite being down nine points in the first half, Hays battled back thanks to three Shelby Calabrese 3-pointers to trim the gap to one point at halfdme. DelValle forged ahead in the second half, but Hays battled back, and Calabrese found a wide-open Ashley Rankine with a pass for a layup that gave the Iady Rebs the lead with under 10 seconds to play. When El Joyner stole the ball moments later, Hays had earned another trip to state under McDonald. "I'll always remember 2001 and 2009," McDonald said. 'All of my teams have meant a lot to me, but those were special groups." And who could ever forget Hays' All-State guard Lindie Kimbm scoring 42 points and grabbing 22 rebounds to al- most single-handedly beat Lake Tmvis in the 2007 playoffs? 'TII never forget the night Lindie had 42," McDonald said. "That was an amazing night for an amazing player." I'll always remember how McDonald could always crack you up no matter what the situation. I'll remember the priceless quotes he gave me for the newspaper after games, and the even funnier ones I couldn't print. I'll remember Coach McDonald always thinking his team was the underdog before a game when almost all of the time they weren't. I'll remember him telling all of his players to wish me a happy birthday after I followed the lady Rebels three hours into East Texas darkness to see Hays win what would mm out to be the final victory of McDonald's career during the playoffs this season against Beaumont Central inWaller. I'll always remember the quote undemeath every one of the emails he sent, "Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it; right is right even if no one is doing it." Coach Mac will definitely be missed for more than the 399 wins he amassed over a 16-year career at Hays and the 668 overall victories he had in his coaching career. "He was just so fun to be arotmd," Guerrem said. "I have so many incredible memories of going to tournaments, and all the fun we used to have no matter where the team went. It wasn't always about wins and losses with Coach Mac. We were truly lie a family." Lindie Kimbro said McDonald's impact won't soon be forgotten. "Coach Mac is ending his career with hundreds of wins, yet the vast number of young people's lives he influenced is what he will be remembered for," Kimbro said. "His passion for the game and his unwavering commitment to his faith are what I admire most about him. I feelvery fortunate to have played for not only an incredible coach but an incredible man. I love coach Mac." A few iJ rively over Thougl the short their very Lehman ] son still o abitofa= in the ad dred Lob From Ha' Hays pitcher anq recently to contin 8-0 on the mouni head coach Davil PHOTO BYJACOBTORRES [ 1,000 fans in attendance who witnessed the Lobos' first-ever Brehman, head coach Toby Robinson feels his team is on mings later, it was rela- a nice ovation when the game ended. "This was probably the most awesome thing I've ever been a part of in the five years I've been at Lehman," Robinson said. "To be able to say we're a playoff team after where this program began is pretty awesome. We wanted to be a little bit more competitive in this his team ended up on end of a 14-2 romp in first post-season game, ead coach To,by Robin- uldn't help but suppress aaile as his team basked dation of the few hun- fans who gave them COUR1T.SY PHOTO s to Midland infielder Shane Kelley signs a national letter of intent Je his baseball career at Midland College. Kelley, who is t for the Rebels this season, is seen here with Midland I Coleman. Coach M zc: Decides to mtim Brooke Borre:son mmber how IMc- [ways lightent up tg a tense prac- Continued frorn pg. 1 B ning shot to sen t the Lady Rebels to the state tot nament in 2009, had nothing btt praise for Mc- Donald. "Coach Mac m as more than a coach to us," B ankine said. "He teas more like a dad to the te:am. Are all knew w could count: on aim for anythit g. He taught me a lot about basl etball and about life." : Fellow senior isaid she will rer :Donald could a ithe mood duriJ :rice. "He once t0 mess up a rock  said. "He used t ,e were like th Lehman Tennis: Nerves take a toll an duo Continued from pg. 1 B winner between the two Rider Martin o: players and then followed it up scored o with another baseline shot to even couple 0 the match at 3-3. the Lobe Holka helped Rider regain the "Itwm lead at 4-3 by whizzing a shot just to come q beyond the teach of Kittel. second Trailing 5-3 with Rider needing DeI_aFuq only a few points to close oUt the to who q Lobos, John Martin delivered a better. shot that sliced just inside the l/he better th to push the Lobos within 5-4 and You ha then a few points latex gave the played a Lobos a 6-5 lead. Rider On the next serve, Kittel pound- Holka ar ed another winner through the mixed e middle to help close out the game to state for Lehman, tying the match at event. one set apiece. DeI_ "We started to get some too- rience G menmm after we stot d em quarterf twice from winnin u match," his term Kittel said.'But it took a lot Out of with G us for the th set." Martin The more experieaced Rider slated tc pairwastedno time injumphg on Lobos n the Lehman duo, winning th first for extra two games before Kittels potent "We'rt serving pulled the Lobos briefly and lotu within 2-1. DeI.aFu But from there, the Rider pair pmgran showed why they were the No. 2 the sam seeded team at the state tourna. Bmunfe ment by breaking Kittel and John prettyc ld us we could fight," Bormson tell us last year t movie "50 First around and saw all the people out here and kind of got a little nervous. It took us a while to start playing our game." After Kittel held serve to even the first game at 1-1, it was all Rid- er from that point. Leigh Martin's strong serve and Holka's excellent all-around game made them a tough match-up for the Lehman pair. After Leigh Martin slammed a winner past Kittel to give the Rider pair a 2-1 advantage, both Kit- tel and John Marlin failed to hold serve and before they could even blink the Lehman duo was down 4-1. "We didn't come out with the same intensity as we did in the regionals," Lehman head coach Orlando DeLaFuente said. "They were a very good team and when you dig yourself into a first set hole against them, it hard to try to come back and win." TWo forehand winners by Holka .cJd the firstame for Rider. After a brief timeont between games, the Lehman pair stormed back and appeared to have over- come their stage fright in the sec- ond stanza. John Martin smashed a volley me each and then Holka msecutive points with a nice shots that eluded hard for our kids to have ff of that very emotional .'t and go right back at it," ate said. It boiled down ecuted their game plan d they were a little bit an us today at doing that. i to give them credit. They ery clean third set." Leigh Martin and Tom the schoolg fifth straight ubles team to advance race the UIL started the uente believes the expe- F advancing to the state rials is a huge boost for program's future. And mzalez, Desiree Kittel, nd junior Roytee McCabe return next meason, the ay have to sttart looking :oom in the mophy case. very proud off what Perle t accomplisheed this year," .rote said. "Fmr our tennis to now be mtenrioned in . breath as Wsflake, New s ,,mad Lake qIPavis, that's ol. Dates" because we were always forgetting things. He was always making us laugh, but when it was time to be serious he was the glue that held our team together. He'll reagy be missed. I feel honored to have played for him." McDonald said he's not sure what he'll do in retirement, but don't be too surprised if you see him at a Lady Rebel game or two. "You know anybody that needs someone to do part time work?," McDonald joked. "It all went by so fast. I'm just going to ride off into the sunset. I'm looking for- ward to being able to support the Lady Rebels from the stands now without any pressure. I'll still be there yelling." Five years ago, the Lobo base- ball team had to play eyery sched- uled home game on th e road be- cause they didn't have a field to call their own. Three years later, Robinson and former coach Brocl: Rumfield were finally able to sect re enough donations to break grc und on a new baseball diamond iast spring. "The cool thing is---t tree of the seniors on this yeas te am were a big part of helping thi program get off the ground so i was very cool to see them be abl to play in a playoff series in their, last year,', said Robinson. "Throt tgh all the ups and downs, they s uck with it and it paid offfor them Tre Abeita, one of tt  three se- nior captains on this ,. afs team was excited to see the huge turn- out for the Lobos. "It was an amazin feeling to see all those fans in the stands cheering for us," Abel [a said. "It was definitely the big;est crowd I've played in front of. I t made ev- erything we went thn mgh these last four years worth it." Many of the fans in attendance, including Peter Ramirez, whose daughter Amy was a 2008 Lehman graduate, knew they were witness- ing a landmark moment in Leh- man athledc history. "I heard about this game from some of my friends who still have kids that go to school at Lehman," Ramirez said. "When my daughter was in school, there wasn't a lot to cheer about here. But  low Coach Hays Bes00l00ll Robinson has these guys headed in the right direction. It was very nice to see how many people were lined up outside to get in here about an hour before the game, ready to cheer these guys on." There was a steady stream of positive cheers and chants as the game progressed even though things didn't appear to be going Lehman's way after the first in- ning. When Brenham's Erick Weiss blasted a two-ran shot off of Lobo starting pitcher JP Flores to give Brenham a 2-0 lead, most of the stadium grew silent for a few min- utes. But a few minutes later, when members of the Lehman varsity football team began to file into the ballpark decked out in blue paint- the energy level quickly increased. "It made me proud to see how much support those guys gave us tonight," Robinson said. "It really meant a lot to my players." But a few hours later, the sta- dium emptied almost as quickly as it filled up. Some fans remained to simply bask in the glow of Leh- man's big night. . " One of them was Norma Bel-. tran, an aunt of one the Lobo JV players who was elevated to var- sity for the playoff series. She held a game program in one hand and her ticket in the other. - "I'm keeping this program for- ever because it symbolizes all the hard work these kids and Coach Robinson have put in over the last few years," Beltran said. "This is history and I couldn't be prouder. And it won't be the last time we get this far." I= Advancing to 2nd round Continued from pg. 1 B since he came through it the sev- enth inning. Two pitches later, he got the single that won it  nd we all went and tackled Masen.", Not a bad night's work tar a play- er, Gulle who has been u,, ed main- ly as a courtesy nmner th  season. "I asked Masen in the ninth in- ning if he could do this," Hays head coach Doug Ra_gsdale mid. "He looked me straight in th eye and confidently said, 'Yes sir.'" Game one against Mc ztgomery on Thursday mirrored H ys' loss to Little Cypress-Mauricevil] e last sea- son that knocked the st te-ranked Rebels out of the playoffs. last year, Rebels took  4-1 lead into the seventh inning 1 efore fall- ing apart and ultimately losing to I.EM 5-4 in nine innings.The defeat in the one-ganae series in the sec- ond round ended Hays'dreams of making a nm at the state rifle. Hays again took a 4-1 lead into the seventh inning agah st Mont- gomery before the Bears rallied to tie things up and send the game into extra innings. Instead of wilting hov fever, this time Hays came throu h in fine fashion. in the same ninth innJ n Dylan Salinas led off the bott m of the frame and belted a towering home nm to deep center field over the Blue Monster at Rebel Field and Hays walked offwith a 5-4 victory in game one of a best-of-three series. "It was eerie how much the two situations were the same,' 1 said Hays senior Phillip Abreo. "It brought back Little Cypress-Mauricevilie all over again. Everything was exactly the same, except this time we won. I think we erased a lot of bad memo- lies from last year." Salinas was mobbed by his team- mates as he rounded third and jumped on home plate. "When I saw it go over the fence, I was ecstatic," said Hays centerfield- er Trace Gandy. "We're a comeback team, so it wasn't surprising." Although the win won't officially be counted as a comeback since Hays never trailed, the Rebels did come from behind six times during their co-district championship run in 17 -4A play. "These kids know how to handle pressure," Ragsdale said. "It seems like everyone's had their turn at be- ing the hero." Ragsdale said he didn't let last year's playoff loss creep into his mind against Montgomery. "I've replayed that game 100 times, but this is a different team and this is a new year," he said. "I love the playoffs for games exactly like this." Hays almost didn't get a chance to play in extra innings in game one, as Montgomery had a great oppor- trinity to take the lead in the top of the seventh after tying the score 4-4 on J.T. Gorski's RBI single with one out that advanced teammate Emie Garcia to third base. But Abreo, who came in to pitch in relief, picked Garcia off third and then struck out Garrett Hrozek to end the threat. Hays had a chance in the bottom of the seventh inning, but a perfect throw to home from centerfielder Jimmy Dominick after a Justin Heath single nailed Nick Cavazos with the third out as he was trying to score the winning run. After neither team made much noise in the eighth, Salinas hit his heroic blast, much to Ragsdale's surprise, to send the Rebels home winners in a game that lasted more than three hours. "I think that's the first ball I've ever seen Dylan hit out of this bali- park, in a game or in practice," Rags- dale said. "He's just not a home run hitter. He had to hit that ball awfully hard to have it go that far over that fence with the wind blowing in. It was a pretty awesome shot." Kelley said Hays is now very confident heading into round two against Nedexland. "We showed we're here to win and we didn't let last year's loss ef- fect us," Kelley said. "We love the fact we're playing the series at Montgomery again, because we've already had success there. We're in the right mindset as a team and we're hyped about making it as far as we can." + +