The yard just could not hold them Friday night, and now the hard-hitting Lady Bobcats are on to the third round of the softball playoffs.
Cracking three home runs in a 12-0 blowout of visiting McAllen High, the Lady ‘Cats improved to 26-2 overall and will now play in the regional quarterfinals against Weslaco.
The first smash came from sophomore Kristee Salas, who muscled an inside pitch over the wall in left for a grand slam in the third inning. With junior pitcher Amber Reyes en route to a 2-hitter, this was all EHS would need as Salas’ round-tripper gave the 31-6A champs a 4-0 advantage.
But the bats were not finished, as in front of an overflow crowd, Coach Ramon Arciba’s club then produced a tremendous barrage in the fourth, plating eight runs. Senior Dezi Marmolejo and freshman Katy Truitt each powered three-run blasts, the former going out to left-center and the latter propelling an absolute rocket on a line over the center field fence.
The long ball was the thing in area, but defense was also front and center at the right time. After the Lady Bobcats went up 4-0, they made two sweet fielding plays in the top of the fourth. First, the athletically gifted Truitt came rolling in to snag a liner in left, and then senior Becka Delgado – so smooth and clutch this senior campaign – made a superb veteran effort. With two on and one down, she fielded a grounder at second and fired without hesitation to the plate, where catcher Anngie Salinas slapped the tag down just in time.
In terms of momentum, this was the play of the day because Reyes then bowed up to retire the next hitter, ending the threat and inning: McAllen (22-7) never challenged after that. An inning prior, two Lady Bulldogs had reached before Reyes dug down deep to end the frame with a K.
“We just made some adjustments after the first few innings,” said the program great Marmolejo, who was featured in the McAllen paper the day of the game. “She wasn’t throwing that hard so we just had to wait for it, and get our swings. The coaches really had us prepared for this one, we just had to come out and do the rest.”
Anything goes in a one-game playoff, but the Lady ‘Cats did not let the pressure of win-or-die get to them, and recorded the win. They defeated Weslaco East in bi-district and will get another chance against a Mid-Valley team now: the vaunted powerhouse from Weslaco High.
The Pantherettes are again among the region’s best, having scored 10.6 runs per game in district while allowing just 1.4. They shut out opponents six times in league play, losing a single game, to San Benito. Weslaco later avenged that defeat by beating the Lady Greyhounds, and has subdued P-SJ-A Memorial and SA Southwest so far in the postseason. Ironically, one of the team’s only defeats of the year was against McAllen, 6-0, in early non-district action.
Upset was the name of the game in other playoff action as San Benito, after a win in Game One against South San Antonio, dropped a pair Saturday to exit the postseason. South San will face Harlingen South in the third round, as there are now just three Valley teams left in the hunt.