The Stamford Lady Bulldogs are back in Austin for the UIL State Softball Tournament for the second year in a row, and this time, they are there as the reigning champions.

Stamford spent the entire season playing with a target on their backs.

Everyone wanted to be the team that knocked them off.

Yet, they are back and ready to defend the Class 2A title.

Layloona Applin said, “Our expectation was to go back to state. That target on our backs just made us push harder in practice. We knew that we need to be at state and we know that we had the potential to be there and that’s why we made it again.”

Head coach Cynthia Herrera added, “Everything that we did, all the hard work in the offseason and the preseason has got us ready for this state run, and we do have an ‘X’ on our back and we know we’re the team to beat. We’re going in there not like the underdogs like we did last year, but we’re very competitive, we like a good challenge and we’re not going to shy away from it.”

Lovelady is next for the Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals.

The Lady Lions are 34-4.

Stamford is 26-4 and didn’t lose to a Class 2A team during the 2022 season.

The two teams meet on Tuesday in Austin at 7 p.m.