Undefeated Hawley softball continues its pursuit of perfection Wednesday afternoon when the Lady Cats face East Bernard (30-5-1) in the state semifinals.
"I don't think I can even explain how ready all of us are," senior second baseman Vannessa Rubio said.
The Lady Cats (35-0) are headed back to the state tournament for the second straight year. Last season they fell in the semifinals 7-6, but this year Hawley won't rest unless it's with the crown.
"All year we've all been mentally preparing to come back to state," Rubio said. "Now that we're here, we're so ready. We're focused and our No. 1 priority is to do better than we did last year. We wanna win all of it."
"We're definitely more mature this year," senior pitcher Jordan Anderson said. "We know what to expect and how to react to the pressure. It will definitely come in handy when we step out on that field and see everyone cheering us on."
It also helps that the Lady Cats have one of Class 2A's top pitchers. Anderson has struck out 321 batters this season. She's also as confident as ever.
"I know that if the team does get hits that I have a solid defense to back me up," Anderson said. "There [are] no worries at all in my mind."
"We all know we can count on her when we come under pressure," Rubio said, referring to Anderson. "She's gotten a lot better being under pressure. She's had to stay focused, and she's done really well."
As Hawley heads into state this week, its seven seniors are just two wins away from going out on top.
"There is going to be a lot of emotion involved in it," said Anderson, smiling. "[There will] definitely a lot of crying no matter what, but I know that we can do it if we just step up and play the game that we know."