By Alexis Jacobs
Historical is the one word that sums up Rock Hill High School’s softball season. Making its state tournament debut in only the second year the school has been open, the Lady Blue Hawks lost to Lake Creek, the No. 2 team in the nation, in the state semifinals.
“What these young ladies have built from the foundation up, traditions created, and legacy started is nothing short of remarkable,” says Head Coach Leigh Ann Budd.
The Lady Blue Hawks finished their season at 33-10. They went 13-1 in district play, winning the 10-5A District championship, only losing to Denison. Rock Hill made a dominating run through Region II-5A playoffs, outscoring playoff opponents 70-11, defeating Frisco Lone Star (8-0, 10-0), Woodrow Wilson (7-0, 16-0), Frisco Heritage (4-2), Forney (4-5, 7-1, 4-3) and Royse City (9-0, 1-0).
Coach Budd says she was impressed with the girls’ ability to bounce back from losses and use them as motivators to push through adversity. She believes the loss against Denison propelled them through playoffs, and the loss of game one to Forney showed the perseverance and grit these girls had to compete.
Senior pitchers Grace Berlage and Taylor Hagen both say everything just fell into place as they continued to work hard to reach the team’s season goals.
“Going to state was our goal from the early fall,” says Berlage. “Another goal was to come together and become a family, and by the end of the season we exceed that goal because this is the closest I have been with any team I’ve been on.”
The Lady Blue Hawks racked up a record number of accolades in their second season. Some of them include:
- TSWA All-State Honors: Grace Berlage, Emily Alvarez, Ella Berlage, Katerina Luna, Veronica Cully, Jolie Malan, and Gabrielle Luna
- Star Local Media All-Area Softball Team: Veronica Cully – 2nd All-Area Outfielder and Ella Berlage – Newcomer of the Year
- 2022 TGCA Legacy All-Star: Grace Berlage
- Dallas Morning News All-Area Softball Team: Ella Berlage – DMN Newcomer of the Year, Veronica Cully – 1st Team Outfielder and Grace Berlage – 2nd Team pitcher
- 2022 TGCA All-Star: Jolie Malan
- 2022 DFW Fastpitch All-Metro Team awards, including Freshman of the Year Ella Berlage and DFW Fastpitch Coaching Staff of the Year
- 10-5A District Awards, including Ella Berlage Newcomer of the Year, Veronica Cully Offensive Player of the Year, Jolie Malan Defensive player of the Year, and Grace Berlage Pitcher of the Year
- 10-5A Academic All-District Awards
- TGCA All-State Awards
- TGCA Academic All-State Awards
- DFW Fast-pitch Association All-Metroplex Game participants: Grace Berlage, Ella Berlage, Kat Luna, Gabrielle Luna, Veronica Cully, and Camilla Spriggs
- Dallas Morning News Player of the Week: Katerina Lund and Grace Berlage
- 10-5A Coach of the Year and Star Local Media All-Area Softball Team Coach of the Year: Leigh Ann Budd
The Lady Blue Hawks move up to 6A next school year. While seven players graduate, it will return its top two hitters, incoming sophomore Ella Berlage and incoming senior Veronica Cully. Coach Budd says she will take this historical season and use it to build as they enter 6A next season.
“We are always looking to progress and continue success every year. I believe we have done some great things to set high standards and found our recipe to success that began back in summer 2021 for this season,” says Coach Budd. “As long as we trust the process and buy into what Rock Hill Softball represents, I have no doubts we will continue to be successful at any level.”