Prior to this season, the Prince of Peace softball team had never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
But first-year Lady Eagles head coach Dorman Pryor, who spent the previous 10 seasons as an assistant coach at South Grand Prairie, felt that Prince of Peace had the talent to break past that threshold this season.
“My first thoughts were I didn’t know what I had for sure, but it did look promising that we would get to where we are now,” he said. “It was fully expected. They hadn’t gone this far before. I was hoping that I could bring something that they would buy into. I don’t know whether they bought in, but they sure have been coachable and fun to work with.”
The Lady Eagles are now one victory away from playing for their first state title. Prince of Peace had little trouble with Austin Veritas Academy in a 14-1 run-rule win in the TAPPS Division III state quarterfinals on Tuesday.
“The thing that I wanted them to buy into were aggressive base running, having the thought that you can go out there and win every time and having some swagger,” Pryor said. “They have bought in and are respectably swagger-istic. They feel like they’re the best team anytime that we step on the field. They seem to, most of the time, back it up.”
Prince of Peace (17-11) was dominant on both sides of the ball.
Senior Grace Pritchett tossed her fifth no-hitter, allowing two walks with 13 strikeouts. And she was also a key contributor offensively, going a perfect 3-for-3 with a triple.
“She’s not going to overpower you but is very accurate,” Pryor said. “She hit her spots and threw strikes.”
Pritchett received plenty of offensive support. The Lady Eagles tallied 14 hits and scored at least one run in every inning, punctuated by a seven-run outburst in the top of the fourth.
Already leading 6-0, Prince of Peace loaded the bases with no outs after Pritchett was issued an intentional walk. Senior Caroline Freeman proceeded to deliver the dagger, crushing a three-run double to increase the Lady Eagle advantage to 9-0.
Freeman made solid contact with ball all night, recording two doubles and a triple with four RBI. Freshman Megan Williams went 2-for-4 with a triple.
“We were looking for one pitch early in the count,” Pryor said. “We weren’t swinging at it. We made her come to us. We worked counts, had great at-bats. When we got two strikes on us, we dug deep and we hit great with two-strike counts.”
Prince of Peace won for the 13th time in their last 16 outings after starting 4-8.
The Lady Eagles will face District 2-3A rival Brook Hill in the state semifinals, set for 10:30 a.m. Friday at Allan Saxe Field on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington. Prince of Peace lost twice to Brook Hill earlier in the season by scores of 2-0 and 7-0.
“The fact that we were just a play or two away gives us a lot of confidence going into that game,” Pryor said. “Their pitcher (Karmen Miller) is overpowering and I’d like to think that we’re ready since we’ve seen her twice already. She’s something special. She can throw 64-65, really spin it. We’ll just have to be more locked in and have more control of our swings, instead of swinging for the fences.”
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