Celina wins state with help from ailing pitcher

AUSTIN, Texas -- Celina starting pitcher Katelyn Drummond woke up Saturday morning -- the day of the Class 3A state softball final -- with her right eye swollen shut. The ace had what the team trainer believed was a staph infection and didn’t know if she could go in the title game.

The marvels of modern medicine brought the swelling down enough to where Drummond could see and take the circle. And it was her determination that helped bring a state title to Celina in a 5-1 victory over West at the University of Texas’ McCombs Field.

“It was really bad,” Drummond said about the swelling. “It hurts on the inside and it gave me a headache. It’s a pain in the butt to have to go through that and play softball.”

However, Drummond said she wasn’t going to let that keep her off the field. She had constant support from shortstop Shelby Carter and catcher Paige Mongillo, who made regular trips to the circle during an at-bat.

“[Mongillo]'s a really good encourager,” Drummond said. “She encourages me all the time. She says 'Keep your head up and you can do it.' ”

Mongillo was important in more than just that role Saturday, driving in two out of Celina’s five runs on two singles.

Celina’s other offensive force was Carter -- the game's MVP -- who crossed the plate three times, hit three singles and drove in a run. Carter was the hero of the state semifinals, ending a marathon 11-inning game with a walk-off home run.

Drummond showed no signs of her ailment while in the circle, allowing just one run on five hits in her complete-game performance. She struck out just two but picked up the most important out of the game -- the final one -- with a strikeout.

“She’s going to get a couple strikeouts, but we had to play tremendous defense behind her,” Celina coach Billy Coleman said. “Defense wins championships and it helps us win one today.”

Celina returns all but two starters next season, which has Mongillo, a junior, and the rest of Celina already looking ahead toward a repeat.

“It’s a great feeling," she said. "Hopefully, we can come back next year and do it again my senior year.”