PLAINVIEW- The Bushland Lady Falcons rallied behind one another to earn a sweep over Littlefield in the Class 3A area round with a 6-0 win on Thursday followed by a 10-3 victory Friday despite going through one of the most difficult weeks any program or school could have dealt with especially in today’s social media world full of opinion.
Lady Falcon head softball coach John Blair was arrested last Saturday in Lubbock on charges of solicitation of prostitution and immediately resigned his position from the school. With the team, the assistant coaches, and parents left shocked, Bushland could have let this embarrassing controversy end what’s been another tremendous season. However, that wasn’t the case.
Bushland ISD did a tremendous job of jumping out in front of this story on Monday by posting a statement on the situation. Veteran assistant softball coach Amber Parkhurst was moved into the role of interim head coach, and the Lady Falcons even received an inspiring message from University of Texas basketball star Brock Cunningham on how players win games. That was more than enough motivation for these young ladies who were put in a situation they should have never been. But this Lady Falcon team has great maturity and made the ultimate decision during the week that pulling together as a flock instead of letting a blunder that was out of their control ruin a season.
“It was great we got to come out and just play softball and be on the field,” junior third baseman Abby Howell said. “That’s what we love to do. But after a week like this we all got to rely on each other, and I think in my eyes it shows how much the team means to me and we all are there for one another.”
Parkhurst agreed with Howell’s comments.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said Parkhurst who will end the season as interim head softball coach. “They had to overcome a lot this week. It wasn’t easy, but they stepped up to the plate and got the job done. It’s tough to bounce back from what we all went through this week, but they did a great job of it. It doesn’t matter who leads this group. They are just so talented, and they can step up and come through no matter who is in charge.”
The Bushland community packed the stands at Lady Bulldog Park and the energy behind the Lady Falcons on the field was as same as any week of the season.
Though the toll from the emotions of a long week may have shown with Bushland not on top of its usually dominating offensive game, this team still picked up that big strikeout when needed or that big bat when called upon especially from standout Abby Howell. During the 6-0 win in game one, Bushland’s offense struggled but Howell was there to pick up the pace. Howell hit a solo shot in the bottom of the first to put the Lady Falcons on the board up 1-0. Later in the game, the Howell came through again this time with a two-run shot in the bottom of the third that gave Bushland a comfortable 4-0 lead.
In game two, Howell was back at it. With the game tied 3-3, Howell sent a monster blast out to left center giving Bushland the lead for good at 5-3. She then padded that advantage later with another towering shot to left center giving the Lady Falcons a 9-3 lead.
Howell was unstoppable during this series going a combined 5-for-9 with four home runs and seven RBIs.
“I’m simplifying my swing right now,” Howell said. “We always say let’s get a base-hit because you can’t force home runs. I see a good pitch and I’m just wanting to make good contact and right now that’s what I’m doing.”
Junior teammate Brylee Adams also had a huge series while surpassing a special milestone in the process during Friday’s victory. In the circle, Adams handcuffed Littlefield in Thursday’s game one behind a complete game, scattering three hits without allowing a run and racking up 10 strikeouts.
In game two, Adams made a relief effort in the third inning. With the game tied, 3-3, Adams got the Lady Falcons out of a jam with back-to-back strikeouts that happen to put her at 500 strikeouts for her illustrious career.
“I didn’t even know I was close to 500 strikeouts until Thursday night,” Adams said. “I was told I needed two more strikeouts to get to 500. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s nice to see it pay off. It’s also nice to have the encouragement of my team behind me.”
Adams went on to get the game two win allowing only four hits with another five strikeouts. At the plate, Adams feasted on Lady Wildcat pitching as well going a combined 4-for-7 including a pair of doubles, a homer and two RBIs.
“On and off the field Abby and Brylee get the job done,” Parkhurst said. “They go out and just play and they are great competitors whether it’s defense for Abby along with her hitting or Brylee getting the job done in the circle and at the plate. Those two just always get it going. “It’s awesome to see Brylee surpass 500 strikeouts also. Brylee is a tremendous young person and we’re all just super excited for her.”
Bushland (28-7) will face Idalou (29-7) with the best-of-three series starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Lubbock-Cooper High School. Game 2 takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday at West Plains High School, and if there is a Game 3, that will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday in Plainview.