ARCHER COUNTY, TX (KAUZ) - The battle for Archer County is no stranger to the big stage. Windthorst and Archer City have faced off the past three years in the Regional Finals in volleyball. This weekend, it's the two schools' softball teams playing for a chance to go to state.
"I think it's just amazing for both sides," said Windthorst senior left fielder Jenna Glawe. "Both teams are so athletic that we can play both sports and be great in both of them."
"It's awesome that they are that good, and they make us that good," said Archer City senior right fielder Olivia Kellar. "We are always wanting to be better than them and just having competition with them. It just feels like volleyball again."
"It's pretty amazing knowing that such a [small] county can have so much talent," Windthorst senior designated player Katie Conrady said. "Because how many times can someone meet up in volleyball and softball?"
Windthorst, ranked #2 by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, took both regular season matchups in District 8-2A. But in the playoffs, both teams know this series could turn out very differently.
"I am actually excited to get to play them again," said the Lady Cats' junior pitcher Eliot Hilbers. "Against Petrolia we proved that being beaten twice doesn't keep us from coming back to get a win. So I'm excited to have another chance at them."
"The rest of those two games, earlier in the year, it means nothing," said the Trojanettes' head coach Lonnie Hise. "You've got to come out, you've got to go hit the ball and you've got to throw and you've got to make the plays."
His counterpart agreed.
"I think the key is, not thinking about the season, not thinking about the fact they beat us twice already," Archer City coach Mallory Mooney said. "You can't go in there with that in your mind. You just have to go out as if it's just another playoff game."
Both teams have a strong offense and good pitching, so the series might come down to executing the little things, and not making errors.
"Both teams are going to hit the ball," Hise said. "I truly think that both teams are going to hit the ball, but I think the errors, the mistakes, the misplays, I think that's the key.''
"With a team as good as Windthorst and a team as good as our girls here, it really just comes down to who shows up that day," added Mooney. "I think any team can win on any given day. So honestly, it's whoever is maybe not as nervous, or who is just ready to come out and fight."
Even though this is considered a friendly rivalry, both teams still really want to beat the other one.
"Off the field I know they are friends, but on the field it's totally different," Mooney said. "It's like, we are fighting for the same thing. We both want to beat each other to go to State, so it kinda makes everything more intense."
"Archer doesn't want to lose to us, and we don't want to lose to Archer," Hise said. "It's a friendly rivalry, you know the rest of the time it's good in the communities. There are a lot of friendships there, but when it comes to this they don't want to get beat by the other."
Weather-permitting, the series starts with Game 1 Thursday at 6 p.m. in Graham, then continues with Game 2 Saturday at noon at Midwestern State's Mustangs Park in Wichita Falls. Game 3 would follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2, if needed.