WHITESBORO, Texas (KTEN)- The Whitesboro Lady Cats are headed to state this week for the first time in program history. And for this group of players, it's a moment that has been a year in the making.

"To be quite honest, I kind of blacked out when I hit the ball," Whitesboro senior right fielder Keely Hartless said. "Everyone told me I hit the changeup well, and I honestly didn't know I hit the changeup, but it was a special moment to send my team to the state tournament."

Keely Hartless may not remember it, but Whitesboro forever will. Her two RBI double last week secured a run-rule victory over Emory Rains sending Whitesboro to its first-ever state softball tournament.

"I'm super proud of them for trusting the process day in and day out," Whitesboro head coach Preslee Gallaway said. "They don't take reps lightly."

And this was a motivated squad this year. Last season, Emory Rains eliminated the Lady Cats in the regional final. They were determined not to let that happen again.

"It has been a lot of hard work," Hartless said. "Lot of day in day out, early mornings, 6 a.m. weights. Just hard practices."

That has paid off and created a lot of this [montage of Whitesboro home runs]. The Lady Cats have been scorching hot in the batters box, scoring 17 runs in the third round against Gunter and 19 last Thursday against Emory Rains.

"They realize that put a good piece on it, one swing, one hit can change a ball game," Gallaway said. "They trust their hands. They swing at strikes only. We don't swing at a lot of junk. And if we do, they know. They give me a grin, and say, 'I didn't mean to do that.'"

Head coach Preslee Gallaway knows what it'll take to win down in Austin too. She took home the state title as a player with Pilot Point back in 2013.

"That's one of the main reasons we've accomplished so many goals is because Coach G has been in that position and she knows what it's like," Hartless said. "She can give us pointers and help us in our journey."


That journey will continue in the state semifinals on Wednesday as the Lady Cats face defending champion Coahoma. And they're ready for the challenge.

"We have to work. We have to want it," junior shortstop Bradi-Grace Gallaway said. "We know that they're good. It's the top four, if you're up there, you've got skill. But it's all about who wants it more."


Now after a season full of work, the Lady Cats are just two wins away from a dream ending.

"It would be special. It would be on top of the world. It would be crazy," Bradi said. "Especially for this group of seniors, they deserve it more than anything."

Coming up on Wednesday, KTEN will have full coverage from Austin of Whitesboro's showdown with Coahoma across all our evening newscasts.