UIL state softball: Ennis caps come-from-behind victory to oust unbeaten Barbers Hill

Ennis senior pitcher Taylor Maliska weathered an early 4-0 deficit to stake her team to an 8-6 victory in the UIL softball state semifinals.

Steve Hamm - Special Contributor

Ennis senior pitcher Taylor Maliska weathered an early 4-0 deficit to stake her team to an 8-6 victory in the UIL softball state semifinals.

AUSTIN — To outside observers, Ennis’ 8-7 victory over nationally ranked Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill in Friday’s Class 4A semifinal will likely be considered the upset of the UIL softball state tournament.

Not so for the Ennis coaching staff and players, who will play for the program’s first state championship when they face Aledo at 1 p.m. Saturday at the University of Texas’ Red & Charline McCombs Field.

“They’re a good team and were obviously here for a reason winning all 32 games, but we’ve won 38 now and pushed to our best all season,” Ennis coach Rodney McNeill said about playing Barbers Hill, a team ranked third in the nation.

His players agreed.

“Barbers Hill is a really solid team, but they probably knew they were going to have to fight really hard, all of the teams here are great — it’s state,” said Ennis junior left fielder Julia Hollingsworth, who scored two runs. “We wanted it really, really bad. Our offense, even if it doesn’t start [right], we always get it going.”

It certainly wasn’t the most conventional victory.

Ennis (38-5-1) trailed 4-0 before scoring six runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by a triple from Kinsey Skroh and a home run to left field by pinch-hitter Sam Martinez. It was the first time this season Barbers Hill allowed more than four runs in a game.

Barbers Hill (32-1) tied the score in the bottom of the fifth, but Ennis regained the lead in the top of the sixth on a disputed call at home plate.

Ennis courtesy runner Mo Monreal ran into Barbers Hill catcher Sara Rupp’s left leg in foul territory two feet down the third-base line before the throw arrived. When the throw arrived moments later, Monreal was tagged, but was ruled safe based on catcher’s interference.

Barbers Hill coach Sharlene Barnett disputed the call, but after a conference amongst the officials, the run stood.

“We put [Monreal] in because we knew she had some speed and we could try and force a close play,” McNeill said. “I knew it [was catcher’s interference], I had my hand out signaling that just before the umpire.”

One batter later, Ennis took advantage of the play, adding an insurance run on an RBI double by Lana Pate.

That run was even more important as Barbers Hill nearly rallied in the bottom of the seventh, but another oddity ended the game.

With two outs and a runner on first, Barbers Hill senior Courtney Fisher doubled to drive in a run. But after reaching second she strayed from the bag and tried to dash to third but was tagged out to end the game.

This Topic is Missing Your Voice.

Story DNA