Box Cousins Lead Lady Hawks Back to Title Contention
WALL, TX -- The Wall Lady Hawk softball team is on a six-game winning streak and sitting 1.5 games back from first place in District 4-3A.
It’s a far cry from where they were a month ago after losing to TLCA and Brady to find themselves on the outside looking in.
“That goes to show you their heart. They never give up. They play as a team,” head coach Steve Bain said. “As long as we keep doing that and staying humble … the sky’s the limit for these guys.”
The regional power had just about everything working against their young team which features just two seniors. Senior Ashlynn Box had yet to be cleared to return from an offseason ACL injury and her cousin, Payton Box, was just coming back from helping the Lady Hawk basketball team back to the state tournament.
So, when Ashlynn and Payton were both set to return, the seniors led a talk with their teammates. It drove home the expectations that teams like the 2018 regional quarterfinal team set before them.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“Last year’s shoes were hard to fill, but we filled them,” Ashlynn said. “A fire was lit [after the talk]. As soon as we came back, I felt it in the team. The presence was there. I saw them giving a little harder than we were.”
That fire showed in Ashlynn’s first game back against Sonora, an 11-6 win, on March 12. The Angelo State University signee went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI to extend her on-base streak to 40 games and her hit streak to 14 after being out nearly eight months. The streaks are now sitting at 45 and 19 games respectively.
Yet, it’s not just the bats coming alive for the Lady Hawks. With Payton back behind the plate, Wall’s defensive play has jumped tenfold.
“We feel like our catcher is one of the biggest leaders on the field,” Bain said. “That’s what [Payton] brings. The main thing with her is she blocks everything. So that makes everyone want to work for her and play for her. It makes Izzy [Vera] want to pitch and she feels more confident because she knows Payton is there. It’s pretty cool to see them come together like that.”
Payton came back right as district play started. After the first two games against TLCA and Brady, the defense got back on track. Wall hasn’t allowed double-digit runs since the loss to Brady. That run includes a 13-1 win over Reagan County and a 6-5 win over district leader Ballinger.
The transition from the hardwood to the dirt wasn’t neccesarily easy for the senior battery, but her team made it easy, she says.
“They make [the team] welcoming and everyone’s all positive,” Payton said. “It is kinda hard going with one practice into your first district game. Working out in the summer and being in shape for basketball, it really gets you ready for this.”
It’s also easy when you’ve played on a team with your cousin since little league. That has helped Ashlynn and Payton pick each other up when need be.
“We definitely pick each other up. We know what’s going on with each other,” Ashlynn said. “If one of us is up and one of us is down, we’ve gotta spark a fire in each other.”
“It’s really easy to be leaders on the field, especially since we’re so close and can go back and forth or whatever,” Payton added. “We both know we have each other’s back, not because we’re cousins, but because we’ve been playing together since little league.”