Alyx Henderson moved to Plains her freshman year when her father, Randy, became the girls basketball coach at little Plains High School. She was a standout basketball player and had played softball since she was 4. Once she arrived at the Class 1A school, though, Henderson discovered there was no softball team at the school of about 120 students, and she worried her skills would weaken.
That's when her mother gave her an idea.
"I just asked if I could practice (with the baseball team)," Henderson told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "Then they asked me if I wanted to play. It just kind of happened."
Henderson said the boys were reluctant at first about her playing baseball, but after a while they got used to it. Over the last three years, she became just one of four girls playing on the Cowboys baseball team.
"They just ... it's hard to explain," Henderson said. "They just become friends, closer than you would normally think."
Since Henderson joined the baseball team three years ago, the number of girls has doubled each year; from one to two last year and to four this year.
Now, the girls make up a quarter of the roster and a third of the starting lineup for the Cowboys.
"They weren't handed those starting positions to keep people off anybody's back," athletic director Tom Harvey said. "They're legitimately the best people that play those positions."
Plains doesn't hold tryouts for or cut players from its teams.
"If you show interest, make practices, keep your grades up and stay out of trouble, anyone can be a part of our UIL activities," Superintendent Mike Michaleson said in an email to the Avalanche-Journal. "It is a part of what makes the small-school experience so great."
The numbers are not there.
"People would text me or see me at the grocery store or around town and ask me when we were going to get softball and things like that," said Harvey, who has been the athletic director at Plains for eight years.
But, the answer may be never.
With the influx of girls showing interest in baseball, the Plains High School principal put out a survey in the 2011-12 and the 2012-13 school years to see how extensive the interest ran in beginning softball.
Fewer than 10 girls showed even the slightest interest in creating a Cowgirls softball team.
Michaleson said in an email to the A-J that "a lack of exposure to the sport early on and currently too many activities with too little time" are the reasons the school has not added softball.
And Plains is not alone.
Of the five other schools in District 1-4A with Plains, only two have softball teams.
While Plains ISD doesn't operate its own softball field, Michaleson said the administration has looked into the possibility of leasing one of two facilities.
"The old Little League field that is now used for T-ball, using this for softball would require some changes to the infield and extending the outfield fence," he said. "The other is at the Yoakum County Park, 10 miles south of town where Denver City High School plays its softball. . It would require some coordination between the two schools for home games."
All that would remain for a future softball team is a coach, but Michaleson said there are two current coaches on staff who have experience coaching softball.
However, if Plains did get a softball team, Harvey joked it would hurt the baseball program.
"My stance is this," Harvey said. "I don't determine what sports are played here, but I'm going to support what sports are played here. Right now, I've got baseball to support."
Playing with the boys wasn't a new concept for senior second baseman Jasmine Rivera. She played Little League with most of them from the first through the fifth grade.
She then decided to play softball with her cousin in Brownfield before settling to play whatever sports Plains offered in seventh and eighth grade.
"Whenever we got into high school I thought, `My season's over. I can't play anymore,"' she said. "Then I saw Alyx play, and she inspired me. The next year, I decided to play and be by her side and the guys' side and do what I could to help."
This year, seniors Percy Sosa and Brhett Pierce came into the fold.
"Last year I was kind of nervous about (playing) because I wasn't really sure if I could catch with my right hand," said Sosa, who backs up Pierce in right field. "I wasn't practicing much. This year I feel confident about it. It's been going very well."
What seemed like nothing in small-town West Texas shook things up in Arizona two years ago in a championship baseball game.
Last year, The Associated Press reported that Our Lady of the Sorrows forfeited the Arizona charter Athletic Association championship game because the other team, Mesa Preparatory Academy, had a girl, Paige Sultzbach, playing second base.
The girls for Plains haven't had to deal with that kind of scrutiny.
"I love watching it but being able to play it is a totally different feeling," Pierce said. "Being able to when you get a guy out on the other team, look at him and be like, `Yeah, I just got you out.' I know that sounds kind of big-headed, but it feels good. They're like, `Oh, they're girls. They can't play.' And then we get them out. And you're like, `What now?' It's pretty cool.'"
It didn't hurt that the four girls also had a strong athletic pedigree.
With three of the four contributing on the court -- Pierce was the manager -- the Cowgirls defeated Kerens 57-44 to become the 1A Division 1 state champions.
Henderson was named to the All-Tournament team. "They won the state championship in basketball, so when people see them out here it encourages them and helps them out as fans," head coach Jarret DeBusk said. "They don't look at is as a downside as in a `guy's sport.'"
In the bottom of the first with two outs, Smyer had already scored a run and had a runner on third.
Henderson fielded a hard grounder at short and before firing a throw to first base, she noticed the base runner at third was making his way toward home.
She quickly threw a frozen rope to the catcher and gunned the runner out to end the inning.
"Before the game, we can hear (the other team) in the dugout giving other players mess," junior William Boys said. "`You got out by a girl.' But hey, they got them out."
It was the usual teasing aimed at each other by Smyer and some shocked whispers by the home fans.
"When we take infield and outfield during the game, the (opposing) fans say, `OK, there are three girls about to start this game,"' DeBusk said. "You can tell it takes them back a little bit that they play. A guy gets thrown out by one of them or something like that; it takes a little razz from their teammates. Most people have just gotten used to it, especially in our district. They just see them go out and they know them now."
After this season, the three seniors will graduate, leaving Henderson as the lone female on the team again, unless some more girls decide to play.
"If the trend follows and more girls see it as acceptable, I guess, I'll gladly accept them," DeBusk said. "I'll let them play."