The Brock Lady Eagles earned a state tournament berth for the fourth year in a row in 2019, reaching the Class 3A semifinals.
A district championship, four consecutive postseason series sweeps and a regional final series come-from-behind series win all preceded Brock’s state tourney appearance.
Brock came away with a pair of superlative awards in District 7-3A.
Senior Landry Felts was named Defensive MVP while junior Lauren Kizer was named Co-Pitcher of the Year.
Felts, who primarily batted in the three-spot and played center field, batted .394 for 54 hits including 29 singles, 15 doubles, three triples and seven home runs.
The defensive MVP also tallied 45 RBIs and 61 runs scored while owning a fielding percentage of .976
“Landry made zero errors during district and had a huge diving catch in an extra inning game against Jacksboro,” Brock Head Softball Coach Ryan Starnes said.
Kizer stepped in for junior pitcher Kelsi Tonips (who was injured the first day of Brock’s first tournament) early in the season and ended up as the Lady Eagles’ starting pitcher for a large portion of the year.
“Lauren is a kid who came into the [season] just hoping to pitch some here and there, and she ended up being our primary pitcher for most of the year,” Starnes said.
The co-pitcher of the year owned a record of 17-4 on the mound, putting up 216 strikeouts and ERA of 2.62 in nearly 134 innings pitched.
Kizer’s strong play also carried over to the plate, with the junior putting up 39 hits and scoring 50 runs (as well as 18 RBIs) for a batting average of .333.
The Lady Eagles took home four first-team selections in district.
Junior Hailey Blankenship was named a co-first-team catcher, seniors Payton Gasca and Jessica Leek both earned first-team infield honors and Tonips took home first-team outfield recognition.
Blankenship, who caught for five different pitchers in 2019, also served as Brock’s leadoff hitter, batting .402 for 49 hits.
The junior catcher also owned a fielding percentage of .965, catching 14-of-30 stolen base attempts.
Starnes credited Blankenship for handling a large amount of responsibility well behind home plate.
“Playing catcher is not an easy job, it is made even more difficult when you have the responsibility of calling pitches, but Hailey took the challenges and never looked back,” Starnes said.
Leek served as the Lady Eagles’ primary first baseman, owning a fielding percentage of .981 in 104 chances in addition to batting .404.
Starnes said Leek played a variety of positions on defense for Brock.
“Jess has been asked to play a bunch of different positions over the year but maybe none as demanding as being asked to play first,” Starnes said.
“Jess was huge for us at first and just as big hitting in the middle of our order.”
Gasca played shortstop, owning a .925 fielding percentage in 120 chances and batted .338 (including a walk-off home run on senior night), proving an exceptional two-way player, Brock’s head softball coach said.
“Not only did Payton hit at the top of our lineup and continuously deliver big at bats, but she was as solid as you could ask for as a SS,” Starnes said.
Tonips, who missed the first half of district with an injury, proved a major asset on the mound upon her return, owning an ERA of 3.25 in 56 innings pitched to go along with 32 strikeouts and a 9-0 record on the mound.
At the same time, the junior also excelled in the outfield, owning a .897 fielding percentage in 29 chances.
Tonips’ work in the batter’s box was also solid, as the junior batted .485 for 32 hits (as well as notching 36 RBIs and scoring 28 runs).
“Kelsi once tried to say she wasn’t an outfielder, but she proved she can play anywhere and play at a high level,” Starnes said.
“Once she came back, she was so big for our team.”
Brock also earned one second-team selection as well as an honorable mention.
Junior Maddie Murley was named a second-team utility player, while fellow junior Claire Duvall was named an honorable mention.
“Maddie came into the year thinking she would catch for us,” Starnes said.
“She served as our back up catcher and starting third baseman and was another kid that proved to be great at everything she was asked to do.
“Claire started at second base all year for us. While things started rough for her, she finished the year as reliable as you could ask a kid to be.”
Felts, Duvall, Kizer, Blankenship, Murley, junior Emery Leech, sophomore Trinity Bradshaw and sophomore Cayden Stephens all earned academic all-district.