The McMullen County Cowgirls don’t know much about their Area Round playoff opponent, the Leakey Lady Eagles. There’s just not much to find about them to scout.
That has done nothing to deter the Cowgirls from remaining confident entering Thursday’s match.
“We’re pretty confident with how we’re playing and we’re pretty confident about the game,” senior hitter Madison Sherrer said, also noting butterflies are inevitable heading into a playoff match.
It’s a complete 180-degree turn from last year when the Cowgirls entered the playoffs as the second seed from 31-1A and clashed with eventual regional champ D’Hanis. They admitted they had a losing mindset going into that match and added that mindset is gone ahead of their meeting with Leakey.
“We’re not as nervous,” sophomore Chloe Taylor said. “With D’Hanis, we were really nervous. We went into that game with a losing mindset. Now, we’re going in with a winning mindset.”
That winning mindset was built on a foundation that was laid in the spring while playing in the Pleasanton Spring League. Head coach Darcy Stockton said the team is so involved in other extracurricular activities such as FFA, UIL academics, and even rodeo to name a few, that the spring was paramount to the success they’re enjoying now.
“It’s getting as many games, and getting them to play as much as possible. We don’t have many subs, so they spend a lot of time on the floor, a number of touches on the ball. That’s all gonna make them better,” Stockton said.
Without many substitutes, that means the Cowgirls have to truly operate as a team and occasionally play multiple roles on the court. They don’t care who gets the job done, just that it gets done.
“Everybody just wants to win,” senior Caroline McClaugherty said. “We don’t really care who gets the set and who gets the kills. Nobody’s really worried about stats or themselves since it’s a team sport.”
The seniors on this squad have commended the underclassmen for stepping up and maturing. Without them, the seniors don’t think they’d be in a spot to make another deep playoff run.
“I think the growth we had this year was honestly kinda crazy,” Sherrer said. “Thinking about how we played last year, especially the younger girls like Caina [Sneed], Charity [Harris], Chloe [Taylor], Alexis [Ortiz] and Taber [Garcia], who’s a freshman — it’s crazy to think how much we’ve grown as a team. I’m glad I’ve gotten to be a part of it.”
This group of four seniors were also a part of the team that was two points away from making it to the state tournament in 2017. The senior’s drive to get back to the regional final has also sparked a fire in the underclassmen, who have bought in entirely to the program.
The underclassmen want to get to the regional tournament as much as the seniors do so they can give their friends what they deserve.
“It means a lot because they’ve done a lot for us,” Taylor said. “They’ve worked their butts off for everyone and they’re good role models to everyone. And they deserve it more than anyone.”
McMullen (23-14) squares off with Leakey on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Devine. The winner will move on to the regional quarterfinals next week.