A consistently strong Central Texas softball program nearly had a happy ending in 2019. The journey started in Thorndale and concluded 45 miles away in Austin. The Lady Dogs stomped to a 33-6 record and their first ever trip to the state final four. They ultimately fell short 8-7 in a heartbreaking extra inning UIL 2A state championship game against fellow Central Texas squad Crawford at The University of Texas at Austin's Red & Charline McCombs Field. One of the players that plans to continue her program's success in 2020 is Abilene Christian pitcher commit Riley White.
"This experience for my teammates and me was so much fun," White said of last year's run. "We made history for our softball program. The thing I will remember the most was how close I got with my team throughout the season. Knowing how close we came to winning the championship last year has motivated us to work even harder this year to make it back to that game and hopefully win it."
Thorndale needs leaders to finish what it started, and White has the necessary qualities to continue to be one of them.
"I think most people would say I'm stoic or like ice," she said. "My select coach has always said when you watch me, you would never know if we were up by 10 runs or down by 10 runs. I always have the same look on my face. This is a great quality as a pitcher because it means I am not easily rattled and remain very calm for my team."
White is wrapping up her high school career over the next few months and is focused on finishing strong in the classroom and on the field.
"I am working on finishing in the top 10 percent of my class," she said. "I am currently ranked fifth in my class and I would like to move up a spot or two before graduation. I also want to be the best pitcher I can be when I get to ACU. I am lifting early morning weights, refining my pitches and working hard to be the best softball player I can be for my high school team and for ACU."
Thorndale softball has enjoyed exceptional success over the past four years, so memories will swarm White at her high school graduation.
"I have a few memories that stick out in my mind," she said. "I will always remember winning the game to go to the state tournament. It was an amazing moment for our team and our community. Bus rides and team dinners are always super fun and memorable. We have also made lots of memories at our "old school" burger joint, Schroeder's. We go there a lot after games. The owner's son is Bubba. Bubba is the biggest fan of all Thorndale sports. After the final game at state, the team signed a UIL ball and we gave it to him. The smile on his face was amazing and was one of my all time favorite memories."
Once the summer hits, White will turn her attention to her college career. She will be taking her softball talents to West Texas.
"ACU is an amazing school," she said. "It is a place where I can get a great education, play the sport I love and honor God. It is the perfect fit for me. They have an entirely new coaching staff with great energy and passion. I see how much fun they have at practice and their games. The team chemistry is amazing. They just went on a spring break trip together. I can't wait to be a part of their program!"
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