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Mansfield high school softball team making history with first state tournament appearance

The Lake Ridge High School Girls' Softball Team got a great send off, as they left for the state playoffs Thursday, June 2.

MANSFIELD, Texas — The Lake Ridge High School Girls' Softball Team got a great send off, as they left for the state playoffs. It's all part of history making sports year for the Eagles.  

After a winning season, the girls' softball team is in the playoffs for the first time ever.  

Grace Soto started playing softball as a freshman but fell in love with the game eight years ago. 

"Our team made it to state. We're making history. It's very exciting," Soto said. "I used to watch my cousins play as a kid, and right away I wanted to play softball." 

It's exciting for Soto and her teammates, because she really believes they have what it takes to win it all. They will play in Austin, Texas Friday night for a chance to play Saturday if they win.  

Right now, there are five seniors on the team. Soto is one of them, hoping to end her high school athletic year on top.  

"So we work very hard, so I think we deserve our position where we're at now," said Soto. 

Soto's family dropped her off at the school Thursday afternoon to head to Austin. She's the oldest of four children. Her parents are her biggest cheerleaders.

Several mothers got together and even had commemorative T-shirts made with team names on the back. 

Credit: WFAA

"I think her dad and I have hopefully instilled in her to finish what she started back in her freshman year," Rosa Soto said. "She started, you know, on the softball team, didn't make varsity like she hoped to, but she stuck with it."

The softball team's other inspiration comes from their trainers and coaches. Student Alana Wilkes is one of the athletic trainers working for the Eagles. Although her responsibilities include getting water, checking equipment and other team functions, Wilkes is also able to encourage the girls to play their best, especially when they are pushing for a win. 

"If they're nervous they like to come to me and like, tell me, and I just have to, like, hype them up and let them know that they're going to do it, because they are," said Wilkes. 

Lake Ridge High School Softball Head Coach Bobbi Cruff has put in 20 years. She considers the Eagles advance to the playoffs no easy task for any coach. Advancing to the playoffs is history-making for her too. She believes the takeaways for her students from a winning season will help them most. 

"So that's going to be able to help them as they maneuver on into the next steps in their life and move forward," said Cruff. 

After a cheerful send off from parents, siblings, teachers, classmates and the Lake Ridge High School Drum Line, the team hoped to score a win for the finals. 

Lake Ridge beat defending state champ Deer Park, 8-4, in the state semifinal. The team takes on San Antonio O’Connor in the state championship Saturday at 7 p.m. in Austin.

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