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May 17, 2017     Hays Free Press
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Section B HaysFreePress., SO LONG, RED Community icon Red Simon dies at the age of 91. - Page 3B May 17, 2017 PagelB Members of the Hays Rebel softball team celebrate after an emotional 13-0 win over the Vandegrift Vipers during a. district game in April. The result was bit- tersweet as the 13 runs scored corresponded with the jersey of teammate Brynn Aylor, who was killed in a car acci- dent in March. PHOTO BY MOSES LEOS III BY MOSES LEOS III Much like pu ng to- gether a complex puzzle, Hays High head softball coach Lisa Cone sought the best way to fit a young Rebel program on the dia- mond in 2017. While it took a little bit to get there, the end result was the program's first dis- trict championship since 2014 and a third straight playoff appearance in four years. Amid a season filled with so much emotion, Cone lauded her team's ability to persevere and stand tall. "I can't say enough about them. They're a great group ofkids and they're a very close group," Cone said. "They get along great and it's a fun place to be, at practice and at games." Cone said the team's pre-district tournaments helped mold the program on the field. Helping were seniors Maria and Lulu Ar- royo, who provided leader- ship during the course of the season. Mafia Arroyo, who last year played in the outfield, was moved into the infield by Cone, who felt the team needed "leadership in the field a line." While the move took some getting used to, Ar- royo flourished on the dia- mond. She was backed by teammates in the outfield, along with Lulu, her sister. Cone said the Arroyos could be counted on to "come through in any pres- sure situation." She cited REBEL SOFTBALL, 2B PHOTO BY MOSES LEOS III Members of the Lehman High administration, as well as numerous teachers and coaches donned their PF Fly- ers Friday in the school's annual Sta~ vs. Students co-ed basketball game played at the Lobo Den. According to Lehman High staff members, the contest has been held between students and staff for more than seven years. Two of the many educators who played in the game were Lehman High Principal Denisha Presley and Athletic Coor- dinator Joshua Kirksley. While the students won the game, perhaps the larger victory was no injuries were suffered by either side. See more photos online at HaysFreePress.com. PHOTO BY MOSES LEOS III Hays High pitcher Jacob Trujillo unfurls a pitch thrown, during the team's series with the Vandegrift Vipers earlier this season. next season BY MOSES LEOS III Even as the Hays Rebels had their backs against the wall at times this season, head coach James Howard challenged his team to respond. Doing so helped the Hays Rebels reach the postseason for the second straight year under How- m'd. While several key cogs will graduate this sum- mer, Howard is optimistic about next year. Howard said the pro- gram this season had the staffwork with players new to the varsity experi- ence. However, Howard said it was "no excuse" for a team expected to reach the postseason every year. While the Rebels' goal of a deep playoff run didn't come to fruition, Howard said his players gained vital experience during the process. "I felt the guys grew up really quick," Howard said. "The [pre-district tourna- ment season] went well for us." Playing in a challenging 25-6A district provided Hays a chance to grow during the course of a season. Howard said the staff asked many of this year's 14 seniors to step up ,an, d insome big shoes' this season. "I'm proud of the guys and their work ethic and determination," Howard said. ,Their attitude was great the entire season." A pinnacle moment of the season came when the Rebels scored a series sweep of the Vandegrift Vi- pers in the program's final three games of the regular season. Those three wins solidified a playoff berth for the Rebels, which had been in and out of playoff contention during the course of the season. "The thing I was proud of was they could have easily folded under the REBEL BASEBALL, 2B