Forney softball was thrilled just to make it to the state tournament last year, meeting wild dreams of winning its semifinal match to advance to the state finals.
A year later, Forney hopes to win nothing less than gold.
“We’re really excited to get back down there and get another chance,” coach Eric Montgomery said. “We felt like we left some stuff on the table last year.”
“It’s not so much this year we’re just excited to be there,” Montgomery said. “We want to win it. We’re going to down there with the mentality that we’re going to win, we’re not just happy to be there.”
All but a handful of players on Forney’s roster experienced Austin last season and know the drill well. It can be mayhem with much shorter time to warm up than usual and rushing around the field to take pictures and get situated in the dugouts at Red & Charline McCombs Field on the campus of the University of Texas.
“You’re thrown on the field pretty quick and all of the sudden you’re playing and you didn’t even realize you walked in the door,” Montgomery said. “This year, they are going to be ready for it.”
Montgomery said his team has experience with pitching similar to Montgomery’s starter Katelyn Sanders in the pitching Forney faced in its district and in the regional final against Ennis pitcher Taylor Maliska. Both pitchers are not overpowering, Montgomery said, but can control both sides of the plate with very good accuracy.
Montgomery also has some of the best power numbers in the state, thanks to Cali Lanphear, who has sent just under 20 balls over the fence this season.
Forney will get a champions send-off Thursday morning, visiting several local elementary schools before making the trip to Austin. Typically, teams stop in Waco to take in a quick practice at Baylor, but the field is unavailable this year with an overabundance of people in the area for the NCAA baseball regional hosted by the Bears.
Mongomery said he would have to find other facilities to practice before they reach Austin to get plenty of sleep for a 9 a.m. first pitch Friday.
“They’re excited and they’re ready for it,” Montgomery said.