By LANCE FLEMING
Abilene ISD Communications

The postseason has begun across Texas in baseball, softball, and tennis, including Abilene ISD. Meanwhile, AISD has athletes in Austin and El Paso this weekend who will compete in the state track and field championship and the state gymnastics championship meets, respectively.

Here’s a wrapup of the previous week in Abilene ISD athletics and a look at what’s coming up for district teams:

SOFTBALL
The Abilene High Lady Eagles bounced back from a 5-0 Game 1 loss to Amarillo High last Friday to beat the Sandies twice on Saturday (7-2 and 6-2) and secure a bi-district series victory. The Lady Eagles were led by an offense that hammered out a combined 28 hits in the Saturday doubleheader sweep. In the Saturday sweep, Kinzley Cantu was 5 for 8 at the plate, while Germanie Williams, Aubriana Camacho, Makayla Gutierrez, and Mariah Estrada all had four hits, and Marissa Cardenas had three. Diana Silva threw a combined nine innings in the two games, allowing just six hits and striking out 14 batters.

The Lady Eagles (21-13-1) take on red-hot El Paso Ysleta (33-4-1) in the area round of the playoffs this weekend in Pecos. The best-of-three series will start Friday (May 3) with a single game at 6 p.m. Game 2 will be played Saturday at 11 a.m., with Game 3 (if necessary) starting 30 minutes after the completion of Game 2. The Ysleta Indians started the season 27-1-1 but finished second in District 2-5A behind El Paso Del Valle. Ysleta knocked off El Paso High last weekend in the bi-district round, beating the Lady Tigers 17-1 and 10-0 in a sweep.

Saturday’s action from Pecos will be live-streamed here. The winner of this area-round series will move on to the regional quarterfinals to play the winner of the Wylie-Canutillo series.

BASEBALL
Abilene High – which finished third in District 3-5A – started the Class 5A playoffs Thursday with an 11-3 win over Plainview in Game 1 of the best-of-three series at Lubbock Cooper High School. Game 2 of the series will start today (Friday) at 4 p.m. with Game 3 (if necessary) starting 30 minutes after the end of Game 2. AHS starting pitcher Brady Bennett threw six solid innings, allowing just three runs on four hits to pick up the win. While he was limiting the Plainview offense to just three runs, the AHS offense used two big innings – a five-run second and a four-run sixth – to pull away from the Bulldogs. Bennett, Trey Simpson, Jamison Castel, and Xavier De La Cruz all had three hits for the Eagles, and Ryland Stokes and De La Cruz each had three RBI.

The winner of the Abilene High-Plainview series will play the winner of the El Paso-El Paso Ysleta series winner in next weekend’s area-round series. Friday’s action from Lubobck will be live-streamed here.

Cooper finished its season last Friday night with an 11-4 win over Lubbock Coronado in Lubbock. The Coogs went 7-2 in its final nine games of the season, finishing the year as the hottest team in District 4-5A. Cooper finished the year 14-15 overall and 8-10 in the district, one game out of a playoff spot. Third-year head coach Brandon Stover led the Cougars to the program’s most wins since a 19-win campaign in 2017.

TRACK AND FIELD
Cooper’s standout jumper, Jazlyn Hatcher, won the Region I-5A girls’ championship in the long jump last week in Lubbock to punch her ticket to today’s Class 5A state track and field championship meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. Hatcher is enjoying a spectacular season with wins in the long jump in all eight meets in which she’s been entered in 2024. Hatcher enters the state meet as the third-ranked jumper in Class 5A behind Ryhan Balous of McKinney North (19-6.50) and Alyssa Jones of Lamar Fulshear (19-4.00).

The Abilene High boys’ 4×100 relay team finished second at the Region I-5A championship meet in 42.17 seconds to capture a spot in the state championship meet. The Eagles’ quartet of Bryson Perez, Jaden Jackson, Brayden Henry, and Ryland Bradford – finished behind regional champion Mansfield Timberview, which finished first in 21.94.

The Class 5A meet is today Friday (May 3), with the field events starting at 9 a.m. and the running events at 5 p.m. Follow the meet with live results here, or you can watch the meet on the NFHS website here (pay per view).

GYMNASTICS
Tristan Reyna and Evan Banks from Cooper and Abilene High’s Korban Jackson and Aaron Grow qualified for this weekend’s State Gymnastics Championship with their performances two weeks ago at the Region III championship meet. The state meet is set for this weekend (Friday-Saturday) at El Paso Bel Air High School. Reyna and Banks both qualified for the state meet in the all-around competition, while Reyna also qualified in the parallel bars.

Jackson qualified for the state meet in the pommel horse after winning the event at the regional championship meet with a score of 19.10, including a 10.0 on the first day of competition. He also qualified for the state meet in the rings and vault, while Grow qualified for state in the vault after finishing third at the regional meet.

To keep up with the state championship meet, click here.

TENNIS
Abilene ISD hosted the District 4-5A championship meet earlier this week (Tuesday and Wednesday) at the Rose Park Tennis Center, and Abilene High qualified a girls double team and a boys’ singles player for next weekend’s Region I-5A championship meet in Lubbock.

Abilene High’s No. 1 girls’ doubles tandem of Abby Bryan and Allie Dunn breezed into the final but were upended by the team of Julie Elliott and Cambrie Cline in three sets, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1. That second-place finish, however, was good enough for Bryan and Dunn to move on to the regional championship. Cooper’s top team of Talyn Hardy and Claire Smotherman reached the semifinals before they were knocked by Elliott and Cline, 7-5, 6-3. The Cooper duo finished fourth after dropping the third-place match, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

Noah Morris – Abilene High’s No. 1 boys’ singles player – reached the final with three straight-sets wins before falling to Lubbock High’s Parth Mittal, 6-4, 6-2, in the final. The second-place finish, however, qualifies Morris for next week’s regional tournament.

In girls’ singles, Abilene High’s Riley Crowe and Taylor Nevitt each reached the semifinals before Nevitt lost to eventual district champion Kalina Trinadade from Lubbock High and Crowe lost to district runner-up and regional qualifier Khloe Valdez from Lubbock High. Nevitt then knocked off Crowe, 7-5, 6-2, in the third-place match to earn the bronze medal.

The Region I-5A Tournament will be played May 8-9 at the McLeod Tennis Center on the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock. The top two finishers in singles and doubles (boys and girls) and mixed doubles will advance to the Class 5A State Tournament, which is May 16-17 at the Annemarie Tennis Center in San Antonio.

BRIEFLY
Hershel Kimbrell – a 1946 graduate of Abilene High School and legendary men’s basketball coach at McMurry University – passed away earlier this week.. He was 97. Kimbrell graduated from McMurry in 1950 and began coaching at his alma mater in 1959. The basketball arena at McMurry is named for him. He is a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame and the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame.