Highlights of Siegel's 4-3 win over Blackman in the winners bracket finals of the 7-AAA softball tournament Tuesday.
Last season Siegel's softball squad was the first team out in the District 7-AAA tournament.
This season the Lady Stars will be one of two left standing.
It's a big turnaround for a team that entered 2017 with a lot of hype (coming off a Class AAA state runner-up finish) but struggled much of the season.
A lot of the faces are the same. There are some new aspects to the 2018 Siegel squad, including first-year head coach Shawn Middleton.
He said his philosophy entering the season wasn't to just come in and start making massive changes.
"I just wanted to continue what (former coach) Perry (Lyons) started," said Middleton, whose squad improved to 31-2 with a 4-3 win over Blackman in Tuesday's district tourney winners bracket game. The win ensured Siegel of a region berth and a spot in Wednesday's championship game.
"(Lyons) had already built a solid program. I just wanted to make sure the girls relaxed. We wanted to keep things status quo, but we also were going to have open competition at every position."
While much of the talent is the same, two Lady Stars veteran players said the turnaround was about the mental approach to the game.
"We are very motivated," said Siegel sophomore shortstop Vanessa Westfall, who recently earned 7-AAA Offensive Player of the Year. "We were the first team out last year, and that motivated us this year."
Added Sophomore third baseman and all-district selection Caitlyn McCrary, "This year it's about chemistry. Our seniors really do a great job leading. We all get along great. It's a different atmosphere."
Middleton isn't the only new face this season. Siegel has benefited from the arrival of Oakland transfer Sophie Golliver, who promptly stepped in as the team's ace pitcher and has mowed through opposing teams.
She was recently named league pitcher of the year while garnering the DNJ's All-Area Softball Player of the Year award.
"We love playing behind her," said McCrary.
Added Middleton, "Sophie has been a calming effect. Everything blended together. She knows she's a sophomore. She wasn't trying to come in and take over. She came in and followed everyone else."
Golliver allowed three runs (no earned) and struck out 12 in earning the win Tuesday. Westfall had a hit and RBI.
Although they've clinched a region berth, the Lady Stars aren't satisfied yet. Last season both 7-AAA representatives fell in the first round of the Region 4-AAA tourney.
"It feels great, but we have to stick together and keep it going," Westfall said.
Reach Cecil Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Cecil_Joyce.