HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The University of St. Thomas softball team played its first-ever game just two years ago. The Celts are now in the NCAA tournament as conference champions.
"We let the recruits know that we're coming to compete," revealed UST head coach Angela Froboese in an interview with ABC13. "We're not trying to just build and be here. We're trying to win games."
Froboese, a Katy native, has her team at a place it's never been. UST's star pitcher excels on the field by avoiding a place she wishes she didn't know.
"Not that you forget about what's going on in your life, but it's kind of like your escape from things," Bailey Tisdale said while explaining her mentality on the softball diamond.
Bailey, who set a new school record for wins this season, is the granddaughter of Cynthia Tisdale - one of 10 people who lost their lives in in the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in 2018.
"I carry her everywhere," Bailey said. "I always loved softball, but when she passed, and my grandfather passed away shortly after that - I changed my whole perspective. I'm not playing for myself. I'm playing for other people as well. People who physically cannot play sports or people like my Grammy whose life was taken away from us."
Cynthia was a substitute teacher at Santa Fe High School, where Bailey was a student.
"I was a junior at the time, so I still had another year of high school left," Bailey recalled during an interview with ABC13.
"I wasn't sure if I could even go back into a classroom. I sat next to the kid in my 7th period who did this, and I wasn't sure if I could do it," Bailey revealed when referring to accused shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis.
"In a way, softball kind of saved me," Tisdale admitted. "When I get on the field, when I get around my teammates - that is the place I feel most calm and collected."
SEE HERE: REMEMBERING SANTA FE VICTIMS
On Thursday, Bailey was the starting pitcher in St. Thomas' first-ever NCAA tournament game. The contest was played five years to the day of the Santa Fe shooting.
"I don't think there's any better day to start the tournament," Bailey said, smiling.
"I think God works in crazy ways, and maybe this was His way of saying I'm exactly where I need to be. Grammy just loved people and loved students and loved teaching, and she loved helping. It brings me peace knowing she saved kids that day, and it brings me peace knowing I'm able to live out her legacy through sport and my education," she said.
Bailey Tisdale is a proud pitcher carrying more than just her team's history into the NCAA tournament.
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