Sarah Leal’s right shoulder — the shoulder that has anchored the Hays High junior’s breakout softball season — has a chip on it.
As a youth, Leal was told that she was too short to pitch. Despite Leal’s objections, her coach placed her on the Hays junior varsity instead of the varsity at the beginning of her sophomore season. And even though Leal is 4-1 against Dripping Springs’ Brandi Needham and Lockhart’s Mikaela Flores, pitchers bound for Illinois and Incarnate Word, respectively, Hays coach Aaron Fuller has yet to receive a phone call from a college recruiter inquiring about Leal.
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Next up in the circle
Junior pitcher Sarah Leal led Hays to its first state softball tournament this season, posting a 23-4 record with 180 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA. Her numbers make her a top contender for All-Central Texas player of the year honors, but how does her season stack up against those of six former All-Centex MVPs who led their teams to state the year they won the award?
- Karen McBride, San Marcos (1996): En route to the Lady Rattlers’ appearance in the Class 5A title game, McBride won 21 games and struck out 166 batters.
- Katie Garnett, Elgin (2005): More impressive than her 0.65 ERA and her 29-7 record was Garnett’s 356 strikeouts and only 21 walks over 244 innings.
- Nikki Brown, Dripping Springs (2006): The Tigers hurler was 16-3 with 112 strikeouts and a 0.99 ERA for Dripping Springs’ state finalist.
- Blaire Luna, Bowie (2008): When the Bulldogs’ season came to a close at McCombs Field, Luna had piled up 344 strikeouts to go with a 0.22 ERA.
- Brandi Needham, Dripping Springs (2011): Only a sophomore, Needham won 31 games and posted a 0.75 ERA.
- Kourtney Bevers, Liberty Hill (2012): Bevers’ softball season got off to a late start because of an extended basketball season, but she still went 13-3 in the circle.