LA JOYA – There was a point in time, during his team’s drive to the La Joya Tourney championship game last weekend, when Ramon Arciba compared the past and the present.
“Yeah, still a nervous thing, for sure,” he grinned as the Lady Bobcats fought their way past Los Fresnos in the semifinals Saturday. “But now I am on this side of the fence instead of the other!”
Arciba, a long-time select softball coach, has taken the reigns of the EHS program for 2017 and beyond, after many seasons in the stands rooting for his daughter Sammy, a school star from earlier in the decade. He was known for his frenetic presence along the fence, coaching his kid and enjoying the battles.
“This is my passion, man, and I am loving it so far,” said Arciba, whose club was clipped, 7-4, by surprising Rio Hondo for the trophy. “We are trying to instill a new mentality, discipline and high expectations … going good right now!”
Arciba, with his catchphrase of ”Go to work!” is a fiery skipper who is constantly in the game with intensity, along with assistant Noe Cantu, who has taken over for veteran Sonny Villarreal. Villarreal and Jesse Banda led the program for nearly a decade and the girls do not seem to have skipped a beat with new faces in the coaching boxes.
The tourney performance was vintage Lady Bobcats as they showed plate pop, excellent pitching, and some small ball to boot. They blasted their way through the field at La Joya the first two-plus days, scoring 51 runs and allowing four in four wins. This followed a 23-0 smashing of Hanna Tuesday in which Kristee Salas batted in four runs, Anngie Salinas five, and Kayla Contreras drove home four with three extra-base hits.
Saturday afternoon, EHS was in with Los Fresnos – one of the Valley’s best – and made the grade, leading most of the way before capping a 5-3 victory. Senior Dezi Marmolejo smacked a two-run homer in the seventh to win it, after she fanned five in relief of starter Amber Reyes; Ol’ Dez also threw out a runner at home plate while playing left field earlier in the game, to finish a tremendous semifinal performance.
EHS bunted well against the Lady Falcons, with Val de Leon and Becca Delgado standing out, and overcame three errors to post the W. Reyes struck out six in her four-inning stint and drove home a couple of runs. Edinburg led 1-0 and 3-1 but Los Fresnos stayed right with the city club, tying it at 3-3 with a run in the sixth.
After freshman Katy Truitt singled and stole second, Marmolejo zinged a liner over the fence in left-center. She then allowed one single in the bottom of the seventh before ending it with high, hard heat for a strikeout.
North and Vela were each active over the weekend, and both teams have served notice that they will be contenders for the District 31-6A crown.
North won two of three to start at the Border Olympics, smashing Laredo Martin 18-1 for the highlight. The Lady Coogs dropped a 3-1 decision to Laredo United and then took on United South Saturday.
Vela was very offensive last week, following a 14-1 win over Rowe Tuesday with routs of Weslaco East (10-0) and Port Isabel (14-1) at the BISD in Brownsville. The Lady SaberCats ran their record to 7-3 before Saturday, and then beat Grulla and PI before being edged out by Mission, 1-0. In their last eight games, the Lady Sabes have allowed four runs, plating 72.
Sophomore infielder Alyssa Cedillo started the season with a bang, going 13 for 25 in the first nine outings, while classmate Katherine Montero was 9 for 18 during that span. Junior Naomi “Monie” Reyes has fanned 68 batters in 40 innings so far with only seven walks, and added seven RBI at the plate. She and Taylor Chavez have smacked homers in the early going.
District play is right around the corner, believe it or not, and Vela will tackle North March 7 at home. EHS will be at Econ for the 31-6A opener that night. The Lady Sabes have an excellent test March 3 at San Benito while the Lady Coogs will attend the Corpus Tourney as the warm-up for league action. EHS will be in Seguin for its last preps before district cranks up.