The first game of the entire UIL State Softball Tournament features the Hermleigh Lady Cardinals, who are back in the state tournament for the first time since 2017 and just the second time ever.

Most of the girls on this team were members of the basketball that came up one win short of going to state back in early March.

That disappointment was turned into determination and helped Hermleigh return to the state semifinals in May.

Hailey Minton said, “Because we didn’t get it with basketball, with softball it means like so much to us. It’s a special moment. A special moment with the seniors Sarah and Serenaty, it’s just a special moment.”

Head coach Sammy Winters added, “It’s come full circle for these girls. They’ve worked hard all year. They missed the basketball state championships by a couple of points and they’ve worked hard all of the spring to get where they’re at and I couldn’t be happier for our girls and our program. Just what blessing for our community, and what a great opportunity for our entire town to get behind and make a trip to Austin.”

The Lady Cardinals face Chireno in the Class A semifinals on Tuesday morning.

The Lady Owls are back for the second time in the last four seasons.

They are 17-5 this season.

Hermleigh is 15-6.

The first pitch is bright and early at 10 a.m. in Austin.