The Red Oak Lady Hawks had quite the eventful week of softball — for better and for worse.
The week began with one of the more unbelievable come-from-behind victories in program history. And they just so happened to do it on their senior night, which celebrated the high school careers of Lacey Weaver, Brianna Cruz, Raegan Ferguson and Taniece Tyson.
The victory put Red Oak into a three-way tie atop the District 14-5A standings with one game to play, a road tilt against Midlothian.
The Lady Panthers preceded to stun the Lady Hawks, 10-8, and shake up the final district standings.
Red Oak scored 17 unanswered runs Tuesday to defeat Cleburne, 18-13.
Brianna Evans led off the Lady Hawks half of the first inning with a double to left field and scored two batters later when Tyson singled back through the middle for a 1-0 Red Oak lead.
Cleburne then rattled off seven runs in the second inning, five in the third inning and tacked on one run in the fourth for a 13-1 advantage through 3.5 innings.
Singles by Ferguson and Rosie Dillard in the bottom of the fourth inning plated Tyson, Weaver and Ferguson to help chip away at the deficit.
The Lady Hawks then torched Cleburne pitching for 11 runs on nine hits in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 15-13 lead.
Tyson tacked on a three-run double in the bottom of the sixth to complete the monumental scoring run and provide the perfect highlight for the Lady Hawks senior night.
“That almost gave me a heart attack," Red Oak head softball coach Jonathan Rogers said following the victory. “[...] You can't score 17 unanswered runs without pitching and playing defense.”
He added, “I think you can define that game into the first half and the second half. It feels like we just played with a lot more intensity, a lot more energy in a lot more effort in that second half. We made more defensive plays that kept them from scoring and gave us a chance to score runs. If we could not have ever stopped them from scoring then we could have never thought up. We just made a bunch of defensive plays.”
The four Lady Hawks seniors also took time to reflect on their playing careers following the 14-5A win.
Weaver, who finished the game 2-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored, said, "It's been a great honor and an amazing opportunity to be part of a great team and family."
Cruz added that her experience with the Lady Hawks has been “amazing” and noted that she will always remember “all of the team effort and enjoyable memories.”
Ferguson, who drove in a team-high 5 RBIs during her 3-for-5 evening, said she has “loved it.”
“We have had a lot of fight and spirit and what I love in a team," added Ferguson. She started the game for the Lady Hawks inside the circle and took a no-decision. Maegan Fullerton earned the victory after she allowed one earned run on three hits over four innings.
Tyson, fresh off of her 4-RBI-night, said the past four years have been a “great experience and I love playing with the girls. They all have great attitudes and are positive.” She said she has learned to become a better communicator because of her involvement with the team and the leadership role she’s transitioned into.
“I'm super proud of these seniors," Rogers said of the group. "Before I got here they had not done well in district, in fact, their freshman and sophomore years they were only 4-24 in district play. They weren’t the leaders, they were the young kids on those teams, but they hadn’t had a lot of success.
"Last year we went 8-6 and found a way to get into that fourth spot and make the playoffs and this year we are now 8-3 so that is 16-9 for the turnaround from 4-29 and we are not done. That is a big turnaround for them and they have become leaders during their junior and senior years. I’m very proud of them.”
Red Oak entered Thursday with an opportunity to, at worst, end the regular season with at least a share of the District 14-5A crown with a win against Midlothian.
Instead, the Lady Hawks will need to regroup and refocus following a 10-8 loss on the Lady Panthers new home turf, which dropped Red Oak into the third seed in the 14-5A standings.
Joshua won the district championship outright and Midlothian will enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed in 14-5A. Waco University fell to fourth following its loss Thursday.
The Lady Hawks will face North Forney in the 5A bi-district playoffs this week. As of press time, a series length, location and times had not yet been set.
Fred Phipps/Daily Light contributed to this report.