OFFENSIVE BREAKOUT EVENS ECON MARK AT 1-1
After they were no-hit by EHS hurler Johnathan Gonzalez in the 31-6A opener Tuesday, the Jags needed to come out swinging for the clash at home Thursday with P-SJ-A Memorial.
“We haven’t been very aggressive at the plate, we need to swing the bats,” said senior outfielder Lee Maldonado, before he went out and drove home four runs in a 14-4 Econ victory.
Fellow senior OF Domingo Rios chimed in on that idea: the Jags can be good, but they have to start hitting the ball better. He did his part Thursday with a 3-for-3 night and some sharp plays in center field.
It was all part of a 16-hit barrage that buried the Wolverines behind sound pitching from junior Derick Salinas, who mixed in a tricky curve ball with first-pitch fastball strikes to earn the win.
Coach Rigo Sanchez said the Jags, who erupted for five runs in the first, gave up four in the second, but soon outdistanced the foe, are learning how to do things.
“We lost 10 guys from last year so we are inexperienced,” said Sanchez, who led the program to the playoffs last season to end a long drought. “So we are getting more confident by the game. We wanted to bounce back tonight after the EHS loss and it’s a pretty competitive district.”
Sanchez noted that with the bats working well early on, burly righty Salinas – a JV standout last year – did not have as much pressure.
“We were relaxed, confident, aggressive and when we score some runs, Derick can just settle in and work, with less stress,” he commented.
Along with Rios and Maldonado in the outfield, the Jags have a solid infield group led by veterans Pablo Juarez, Albert Leal, and Peter Molina. New catcher Alejandro Salinas is coming along as the replacement for program great Ralphie Galvan, and sophomore first sacker Lee Roy Montano murdered the ball Thursday, going 3 for 4 with two RBI and three runs. He’s the younger brother of former Jag Marco Montano and cousins with the excellent brother tandem of recent moons, Justin and Frankie Montano.
The Latest Montano reports that Justin is now doing well as a top ranch hand working for former Major League pitcher Josh Beckett, while Frankie is a solid relief pitcher at Jarvis Christian.
The Jags work at P-SJ-A Tuesday followed by a home tilt with North three days later. Having averaged just 3.7 runs per game before the detonation against Memorial, the crew seeks to keep that going in what is shaping up to be a tough week of baseball.
In other late week action, Vela recovered from a shocking loss at North Tuesday to absolutely pummel EHS Friday, 19-2 on the road. Ramsey Amador homered twice to drive in six runs as the SaberCats blasted through for seven in the first and eight in the second. Aaron Galvan, sidelined with an oblique strain lately, returned to action and drew three walks and collected a base hit in the rout.
Vela has Southwest and Memorial this week while the Bobcats oppose Memorial and P-SJ-A. North, which is 2-0 to start, plays Pharr North and then is at Econ Friday, as stated.
GRUDGE MATCH ARRIVES: EHS (4-0) AT NORTH (3-1)
It’s been the best thing going for the last decade, and this time should bring no break in that action as EHS brings its unblemished softball record across town to scrap with North Tuesday night.
The Lady Bobcats improved to 4-0 in District 31-6A and 17-5 overall with victories over P-SJ-A Memorial and P-SJ-A last week, while North (3-1, 16-6) demolished Pharr North and Econ by a combined score of 29-2. EHS, ranked No. 2 in the Valley, is led by a host of stars including senior Amber Reyes (.609 batting average), junior Erika Cortez (.576, 29 RBI, 1.55 ERA), and junior Maya Zavala (27 runs, 27 hits, 23 RBI). Junior Kristee Salas (.417, 15 walks) and sophomore Katy Truitt (.527, seven doubles) also help pace a lineup that is hitting .404 so far in 2018.
North meanwhile, swats it at a .343 clip led by junior catcher Hope Rodriguez (five homers, 32 RBI, 15 of 21 hits for extra bases) and junior pitcher/IF Natalie Rodriguez (.536 average, nine pitching wins). Senior Vanessa Garces (.407) is a slick-fielding shortstop and sophomore Seci Lopez (1.81 ERA) adds firepower.
The Lady Coogs suffered an opening night loss to Vela but have since won thrice, preparing for the Grudge Match with a 12-run first inning Thursday at Econ. EHS tussled with Memorial for a 5-3 win, but the Lady Wolverines are salty, as evidenced by their near comeback win against Vela Thursday. The Lady Sabes (3-1, 19-3) grabbed an early lead and held on, 5-4, and will oppose Pharr North Tuesday, P-SJ-A Friday.
Slamming away at .361 as a club, the Lady Sabes (No. 3 in the RGV) have enjoyed a superb effort so far from junior SS Taylor Chavez (six homers, 24 RBI), who leads the team in runs and hits along with the power stats. Alyssa Cedillo is hitting .412 while catcher Dorissa Buenrostro is at .436, and that pair has combined for 29 RBI.
Senior leader Naomi “Monie” Reyes has hit well all season and contributed an 11-1 pitching record with a resounding 117 Ks in just 61 innings; her ERA is a tight 1.13.