If you constantly strive for perfection, you’ll usually end up disappointed. Nobody’s perfect, after all.
But guess what? Exceptional isn’t that far removed from Perfection.
By doggedly pushing herself toward utter spotlessness, Bosqueville’s Emilee Wade delivered a truly exceptional season. She’s hard on herself, but it only makes her better. And the pitcher was a whole lot harder on the hitters she faced. Now her relentless determination has paid off with the 2021 Super Centex Softball Player of the Year honor.
“In some situations it made me work harder, being harder on myself and a perfectionist,” Wade said. “In the Crawford game, it really paid off. Being hard on myself, it made me want to do as good as I can. I knew I needed to do as good as I could for us to be able to pull that game off.”
With Wade flinging darts from the circle, Bosqueville gouged most of the teams on its 2021 season schedule. The senior compiled a 20-3 record with a 1.62 ERA, hurling nine shutouts. Opposing batters flailed and often failed in the box against Wade’s zippy, dancing offerings. She held batters to a .174 average and struck out 193 of them in 134.3 innings. She finished just 50 strikeouts shy of former Lady Bulldogs star Lizzie Donaldson of the school’s career strikeout record, and likely would have seized that mark if the 2020 season hadn’t been shortened due to COVID-19.
No matter who was on the mound for Midway this spring, Panthers baseball coach Eddie Cornblum had a high comfort level, an ace in the hole.
Longtime Bosqueville coach Clint Zander knew that when Wade had the ball, the Lady Bulldogs had a strong chance to win.
“She’s just a competitor,” Zander said. “She’s harder on herself than anyone else could be. But I think that helped her as a player, she went out and competed, threw strikes, didn’t walk a lot of batters, and if you do that you’re going to have success. She had good velocity, good movement, and was just one of those really special players that doesn’t come along very often.”
When you meet Wade, you’re introducing yourself to a control freak — the best kind of control freak, and in more ways than one. She exhibited precise command of her pitches, walking only 24 batters on the season. You might not be able to hit it, but she was going to put it in the zone.
Moreover, Wade wanted to be the one everyone looked to, she wanted the ball in her hand in those Big Gulp moments.
“My energy holds up the whole team’s energy,” Wade said. “It showed some of the games this year. When I was most hard on myself, it didn’t pay off for the whole team. It threw the whole energy off,
Sothen I knew I had to pick it up and just forget about it. As they say, just burn the ship and move on. I like being in control just because that’s my personality.”
Bosqueville’s stable of sluggers cushioned Wade with ample run support. The pitcher also helped herself to that buffet, too. She wasn’t happy about the way she performed in the batter’s box during the 2020 season, and spent much of the summer concentrating on that element of her game. It led to some impressive results — a .470 batting average, six home runs and 29 RBIs, including a three-homer game against Valley Mills. (She also didn’t give up a hit in that run-rule win.)
“Junior year, I hated hitting. I couldn’t string enough hits together to actually just get on a roll for myself,” she said. “During COVID, practiced almost every single day. I got out there and just had fun with it. I didn’t do anything else but just have fun.”
Wade’s next stop is Mary-Hardin Baylor. She’s enthused about the chance to play college softball. But she’ll cling to the memories she made at Bosqueville and the friendships she formed.
Wade and the Lady Bulldogs weren’t perfect, but they were plenty good enough.
“So much to remember. It’s definitely going to be our team,” she said. “The team this year was probably our best team that we’ve had. We had a really good shot at state. We did fall short, but we had a good time doing it.”
Coach of the Year: Jordan Williams, Midway
The word “soft” may be in the sport’s title, but there’s really nothing squishy at all about softball. You go try to hit a riseball that appears to be making a beeline at your chin.
It’s a hard sport, and Jordan (Vannatta) Williams coaches her girls hard. It’s all she knows.
“I guess it’s no secret that I’m a little bit more intense than a lot of coaches,” said Williams, the second-year Midway head coach who starred as a player at West High School and Baylor University. “Of course to me, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. I’ve always been coached hard by people. It allowed me to play at a different level that a lot of people don’t get to play at.
“So I feel like I’ve been coached by passionate people forSolong. My intensity, I always translate into the word passion.”
The Pantherettes adopted her passion and made it their own. Whereas other athletic teams at Midway struggled to adapt to the so-called “district of doom” of 11-6A, the softball team dominated. They run-ruled every opponent in the district at least once but Mansfield Lake Ridge, and went 14-0 in district play on their way to the 11-6A title. Midway also fashioned a 25-3 overall record, earned a top 10 state ranking, and reached the third round of the playoffs before stalling out against a talented Bryan team.
For her hard-nosed leadership, Williams is the Super Centex Coach of the Year.
Consider the 2020 season the appetizer. It was Williams’ first as Midway’s head coach, and even though the players knew her from her time as an assistant coach, the roles change when someone ascends to the head job. The players got a little taste of just how tough Williams was going to push them during that abbreviated 2020 campaign,
Sothey came into this season ready to work.
Often that just meant putting their heads down and getting after the next pitch, the next play. Williams said that several weeks had passed before a player even brought up the team’s state ranking.
“My kids never even mentioned it to me,” Williams said. “Then one night, I think it was the Midlothian game, every player on the team had at least two hits, and one of the kids came up to me on the front of the bus and saying, ‘Coach, you know we’re ranked? You know we’re pretty good?’ I said, ‘Yeah. Believe it or not, we’ve been telling you this for a long time. I’m glad you’re finally realizing it and other people are recognizing it.’ My group of girls that I had this year, none of them ever got too high and none of them ever got too low.”
Behind the leadership of nine seniors, Midway had its sights set on state. Bryan thwarted those plans in the regional quarterfinals thanks to its rugged sister battery of pitcher Jessica Adams and catcher Jacque Adams, both of whom signed with the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
It was a hard ending to a rewarding season, but that’s the game of softball. Sometimes you go 4-for-5, and that one popout is the one that sticks with you. As for Williams, she plans to beef up Midway’s 2022 schedule just
Sothe Pantherettes will be better prepared for such playoff beasts.
“That will not happen to us again,” she said. “We’re going to go find the best competition we can, and it may not be pretty at first, but we’re going to see it, we’re going to be ready for it for the next time. I gave it a week for everyone to be done, and now I’m on it. But I’m anxious, because I know we have a team that can do it.”
Newcomer of the Year: London Minnix, Crawford
Home plate might as well have London Minnix’s name etched on it.
She’s also pretty cozy on the basepaths, the dugout, sprawled out in center field. Really, anywhere on the softball diamond is where Minnix wants to be.
“I feel like it’s my home. It’s my safe place,” Minnix said. “It’s always there no matter what happens. It’s never going to leave me. It’s always there.”
In her high school debut, the Crawford freshman produced a season for the ages. Minnix slapped her way to a .632 batting average and a school-record 84 hits to go with 65 runs and 44 RBIs in the leadoff spot, on her way to being named the Super Centex Newcomer of the Year.
Minnix wasn’t just the spark plug for Crawford’s offense, she acted as an entire set of jumper cables. She jolted the Lady Pirates into high gear. She bats from the left side as a classic slapper, making contact and using her slick speed to get a running start to first base. Minnix said she employed that style out of necessity when she was 10 years old.
“I could not hit right-handed at all. It was a hard situation, and I moved over to the left side and started going to my hitting coach now, Dan Walker,” she said. “His daughters both played at Baylor, slappers at Baylor, they’re very good student-athletes. He’s helped me and coached me all the way through.”
When the ball found a hole, Minnix frequently didn’t settle for just one base. She tallied 22 doubles and a ridiculous 12 triples on the year.
“When I hit the ball, I’m looking at the ball, looking at Coach Allen on third base, rounding hard,” said Minnix. “I’m really focusing on not running into an out, but also pushing the limits all the time. I’m always trying to get an extra base, go that extra length, all of that.”
As crazy as it sounds for someone who broke Jessica Tomchesson’s single-season school record for hits, Minnix may be even more impactful without the bat in her hands. She not only played errorless ball in center field for Crawford, but she also made some plays that would make Mike Trout stand up and take notice. That included eye-popping snares in playoff wins over Italy and West Sabine.
“In the state (semifinal) game against West Sabine, one out, it looked like they had a shot to get it out of there and she caught it by the fence, then she got up and threw to second and almost doubled the runner off. An amazing play,” Crawford’s Allen said. “It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, did she do that?’ … But she practices that all the time,
SoI’m not surprised when she does it in the games.”
Unfortunately for Crawford, the Lady Pirates lost to Stamford a game later, 5-4, to fall a win short of the state title. But given that Minnix owns the type of personality where she could go 5-for-5 and make two layout catches and still crave improvement, she and the Lady Pirates are liable to be even better in 2022.
“Now we know what it takes,” Minnix said. “I’m very excited to see where we go with it and what we do with it. We’re very excited, really ready. I already miss it
Somuch, but we’re really ready.”
Minnix beat out one of the most talent-rich freshman classes in Central Texas history to win the Newcomer of the Year honor. Some of the other righteous rookies included her Crawford teammate Savanna Pogue, Midway outfielder Kelsey Mathis, Lake Belton’s sister tandem of Casey and Shelby Schultz, and Connally centerfielder Serenity Cade-Williams. Additionally, Robinson sophomore catcher Haley Holmes won District 18-4A Newcomer of the Year honors while hitting .435 with 11 home runs in her first season of high school ball after previously being home-schooled.
2021 TRIBUNE-HERALD SUPER CENTEX SOFTBALL TEAM
|Player of the Year: Emilee Wade, Sr, P, Bosqueville|
|Newcomer of the Year: London Minnix, Fr, OF, Crawford|
|Coach of the Year: Jordan Williams, Midway|
|C||Victoria Mosqueda||Sr||.549||45||10 HRs||Bosqueville|
|C||Grace Powell||Sr||.547||58||14 SBs||Crawford|
|IF||Savanna Pogue||Fr||.548||69||49 runs||Crawford|
|IF||Alexis Nava||Jr||.415||48||10 HRs||Lorena|
|IF||Emry McDonough||So||.620||41||44 runs||Bosqueville|
|IF||Maddie Pfleging||Sr||.500||37||15 doubles||Midway|
|OF||London Minnix||Fr||.632||44||65 runs||Crawford|
|OF||Kelsey Mathis||Fr||.564||52||9 HRs||Midway|
|OF||Ashlyn Wachtendorf||Sr||.519||27||27 steals||Lorena|
|DH||Madison Runyan||Jr||.586||20||42 runs||West|
|UT||Caton Letbetter||Jr||.356||35||10 HRs||Troy|
|SP||Hannah Boettcher||Sr||12-1||0.53||.543 avg||Bishop Reicher|
|SP||Emilee Wade||Sr||20-3||1.621||93 K’s||Bosqueville|
|SP||Kenzie Jones||So||29-6||1.70||267 K’s||Crawford|
|SP||Shelby Schultz||Fr||23-5||2.02||.403 avg||Lake Belton|
|SP||Alex Earhart||Sr||14-0||2.14||.353 avg||Midway|
|C||Haley Holmes||So||.435||45||11 HRs||Robinson|
|C||Lillian Garcia||So||.551||57||9 HRs||Troy|
|C||Paige Nunes||Sr.||437||38||.828 slugging||Belton|
|IF||Reece Briggs||Sr||.403||39||10 HRs||Bosqueville|
|IF||Casey Schultz||Fr||.398||41||36 runs||Lake Belton|
|IF||Lindsey Wilcox||Jr||.564||12||.595 OBP||China Spring|
|IF||Emma Blakley||Sr||.429||19||Only 1 K||Gatesville|
|OF||Natalie Harris||Sr||.594||22||.783 slugging||Midway|
|OF||Asharah Thibodeaux||So||.561||17||11 doubles||Waco High|
|OF||Rue Sheehan||Jr||.568||10||No K’s||China Spring|
|DH||Bri Hapenny||Sr||.788||23||31 runs||Bishop Reicher|
|UT||Yanijah Cruz||Jr||.380||12||.492 OBP||University|
|SP||Kas Gaona||Jr||10-2||2.60||.391 avg||Clifton|
|SP||Kate Houser||Jr||16-3||2.05||.443 avg||Lorena|
|SP||Carsyn Cox||Sr||16-5||2.90||170 K’s||Fairfield|
|SP||Emma Brignac||Sr||14-9||2.90||190 K’s||Robinson|
|Bethany Sherwood, Belton; Georgeanna Tucker, Bishop Reicher; Annabelle Kuehl, Bosqueville; Bailey Ledbetter and Kary Fuentes, Clifton; Serenity Cade-Williams and Gracie Alejo, Connally; Kylie Ray, Crawford; Alexis Irwin and Hannah Nesmith, Dawson; Addie Cox, Camii Wilson, McKinna Brackens and Madox Mitchael, Fairfield; Kendall Villagrana and Kinsey Gardner, Gatesville; Kylee Deason, Jonesboro; Angie Deleon, Autumn Holman and Madison Lux, Lake Belton; Autumn Bell and Jaylynn El-Far, Lorena; Layla Oliver, Mart; Reanna Smith, Robinson; Tori Skinner, Teague; Kylie Allred, Troy; Daniella Ramirez, University; Madorry Gonzales, Vanguard; Maddison Uptmor, Halley Maler, Hannah Hlavenka and Madyson Hromadka, West|
13-2A Catcher of Year could rake at the plate (.549, 14 doubles, 45 RBIs), also plenty skilled as a defensive presence behind it.
Nobody tried to steal off this cannon-armed Baylor signee, but she did just fine as a baserunner herself, with 54 runs and 58 RBIs.
District 13-2A Newcomer of Year adeptly transitioned to varsity softball, hitting .548 with 49 runs and 69 RBIs for state finalist Lady Pirates.
Bouncing between first base and the pitching circle, District 17-3A Offensive MVP performed beautifully (.415, 10 HRs; 7-4 record).
Pitchers didn’t want to give McDonough anything to hit, as Baylor signee punished hurlers for a .620 average, 25 extra-base hits.
There may be a silent P in her name, but Pfleging carried a noisy bat, producing a .500 average with 15 doubles, 37 driven in.
Leadoff slapper whapped her way to school-record 84 hits and was no less effective with the glove, winning 13-2A Defensive MVP.
Dynamic newcomer made impactful debut, contributing a .564 batting average with 7 triples, 9 home runs and 52 RBIs.
District 17-3A co-MVP, Baylor signee tagged .519 batting average as Lorena’s leadoff hitter, swiped 27 bags in 27 attempts.
Lady Trojans’ smooth shortstop made the most of her at-bats, banging 56 hits on the season, including 16 for extra bases.
UTEP commit started at three different infield positions before becoming regular second baseman, still clubbed 10 home runs.
Sr, Bishop Reicher
TAPPS all-state flinger proved stingy with 0.53 ERA for Lady Cougars, also helped her own cause with a .543 batting average, 17 RBIs.
Mary Hardin-Baylor signee, 13-2A MVP absolutely dominated hitters with 20-3 record, 1.62 ERA while averaging more than 10 strikeouts per game.
Lady Pirates’ state run was in no small part fueled by the pitching gas of Jones, who went 29-6 with 1.70 ERA and 267 strikeouts.
Fr, Lake Belton
Left-hander introduced herself and Lake Belton to the Centex scene with impressive 23-5 record, 198 strikeouts for regional finalists.
District 11-6A Pitcher of Year didn’t lose a game in the circle all season, going 14-0 with a 2.14 ERA, also added .353 batting average.
In first full season as Pantherettes’ head coach, Williams directed team to 25-3 record, 11-6A title and a top 10 state ranking.