HOUSTON – It was a historic win for the Navasota Lady Rattler softball program over the Booker T. Washington Golden Eagles at Delmar Stadium Friday, April 29. Navasota earned its first playoff win in program history with a 19-0 victory in the 4A Bi-District round of the playoffs.
The feat comes four years after the Lady Rattlers first playoff appearance in 2018. This go around, the District 24-4A runner-up made the second playoff appearance for Navasota and first playoff victory.
Navasota Head Coach Doug Harrigan, in his first year at Navasota, was hired to bring relevance to the Lady Rattler softball program. “It’s a little bit of a relief,” said Harrigan of the win. “I knew what the pressure was coming in when I got hired last year in May. [Navasota Superintendent] Dr. Musick said ‘we need to take this program to the next level.’ Of course, winning a playoff game for the first time in school history is a pretty big deal, and hopefully we can build off of it.”
The senior led Lady Rattlers flew past the Golden Eagles with five homeruns in the game – all from seniors. Mia Nunez and Trinity Loukanis each muscled out a pair of longballs and Bella Dobijanski also belted a homerun. All three were perfect at the plate. Loukanis had four RBI’s, Dobijanski three and Nunez two.
In total, seniors accounted for 14 hits. Lexi Nobles was 3-3 with a pair of RBI’s and Jenna Strode was 2-3 with an RBI. Underclassmen contributed with the remining four hits. Freshman Emma Bohack was 2-2 with four RBI’s and junior Haile Garcia was 2-2 with an RBI.
Nobles and Ibanez combined for the shutout. Nobles pitched three hitless innings striking out eight and walking four. Ibanez pitched two innings allowing two hits, one walk and striking out a pair.
Entering his first season, pitching was a question mark for Harrigan. “I can’t say enough about what Trinty [Loukanis], Lexi [Nobles], Evelyn [Ibanez] have done in the circle and Haile [Garcia} who has come in and pitched a few innings for us,” said Harrigan.
Harrigan said when he came in he learned the pitcher who started for four years graduated. “Softball coaches know that is one of if not the most important positions,” he explained. “At the beginning of the year I asked for a show of hands of who has ever thrown – and I didn’t care if it was in third or fourth grade. A couple hands hesitantly went up.”
Harrigan said he told those with hands raised they were going to be in the bullpen pitching and the coaches were going to work with them every day. “They could have easily said nope I don’t want to do it,” stated Harrigan. There were two seniors that Harrigan said could have refused to pitch, “but those two took to it like a duck to water,” he said. “I can’t say enough about those seniors stepping up.”
When a new coach comes in, sometimes it is difficult for players to respond and they can easily shut down, but this group was different. “They [seniors] said, ‘whatever you need Harrigan, whatever we need to do to get Navasota softball going,’ and they did it.”
Navasota is preparing for a best-of-three series in the 4A Area Round against the defending 4A State Champion Liberty High School Lady Panthers Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, at Grand Oaks High School, 4800 Riley Fuzzel Rd, Spring, 77386. Game one is Friday at 6 p.m. Game two is Saturday at 4 p.m., with game three to follow if needed. Liberty graduated their star pitcher from the championship team.
Harrigan said he likes his team’s chances. “This is not the same team that we had at the beginning of the year. We are playing with a lot of confidence,” he said.
After a tough run-rule loss to El Campo in the first half of district play, the Lady Rattlers regrouped to fall in a 10-inning heartbreaker by a single run. That game has been a huge motivation for the Lady Rattlers. “Now they [the team] believes, and I believe that we can play with anybody,” said Harrigan. “So, I don’t care if it is Liberty, we are going to enjoy this, and we are going to work to try and win. That is all I can do. However the chips fall that is in God’s hands.”