Lady Oilers coach: Team was up to the pressure
By L. Scott Hainline
Pearland coach Laneigh Clark saw her Lady Oilers go above and beyond winning a Class 5A state championship last week in Austin.
'Being ranked No. 1 at the start of the season, you hear and get all kinds of things from opponents and fans, and some are not easy to take,' Clark said. 'But our kids handled every bit of it so well all the way through the season, and even after it was over.
'They were thrilled and excited about winning a state title, but they also remembered how it felt to lose in the finals, and that Austin Bowie deserved a lot of respect. It was just so classy.'
Pearland was able to repeat as Region III champs, and after outlasting Lewisville Hebron 1-0 in the state semifinals, they were nearly perfect in a 4-0 championship blanking of Bowie.
The Lady Oilers lost to Smithville Valley 1-0 in the 2009 state finals, and came into the season as Texas' top-ranked 5A team.
'We had just about everyone coming back, and we all had each other's back,' rising senior pitcher Jessica Bowden said. 'It was a good thing because everyone knew about us and wanted to beat us, but everyone on our team got along very well, and that's what made the difference.'
Bowden tossed both state tournament shutouts and was named to the 5A State All-Tournament team along with senior teammates Megan Corondao (first base) and Jaclyn Bechtle (shortstop), and junior Leandra Maly (outfield).
Bechtle was also voted as the championship game most valuable player after going 3-for-4 with an RBI.
'That last game was one of the best I've ever seen,' Clark said. 'Every player got to make a play or two in the field, and it was definitely a total team effort. You could just see it in their eyes they had a task to do, and they did it.'
Pearland's state roster also included seniors Brittany Marcet (former starting catcher lost to knee injury early in 2010), Megan Marcet, Destini Smith, Tori Graves and Danielle Riley; juniors Lauren Langner, Chelsea Bennett, Sara Clements, Brooke Dubois and Kirstie Barrick; sophomores Courtney Sams, Stacie Pilkington and Haley Beam; and freshmen Katie Blanar and Berkeley Bacon.
Bennett made the move from third base to catcher when Brittney Marcet was lost to injury 10 games into the season.
'That was just one of the things the team had to come together for and overcome,' Bowden said. 'We're next-door neighbors, so Chelsea and I had throw together plenty of times, but to step in at catcher at the 5A level and perform like she did what something special.'
It was Bennett's first time behind the plate since her 12-and-under days.
The Marcet sisters are headed to Nicholls State, Coronado will play at DePaul, and Bechtle suits up for San Jacinto next season.
Associate head coach Michele Hyden, Lori Boyd and Angela Flores are Clark's assistants.
'We had so much support from everyone including our administration, game staff, teachers and parents,' Clark said. 'That allowed the kids to stay composed and able to stick with the game plan, and I'm just so proud of them.
'Kudos to the kids.'
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