It was imperative that they complete the season sweep against North Thursday, to head into the long weekend in firm grasp of second place. On deck is the showdown with league-leading EHS, set for Tuesday, April 3, so Jon Maples’ softball bunch needed this one.

Thanks to a quick offensive outburst at home, Vela jumped to an early lead and hung on at the end to defeat the Lady Cougars, 6-4. Senior hurler Monie Reyes pitched out of a slight jam in the seventh, getting the W after two runners had reached, by inducing a pair of fly balls. The second was corralled by a speeding Gaby Villarreal in foul territory down the right-field line, and that capped the victory and sent the Lady Sabes to 6-2.

“She was out for three games with an illness, and getting her back tonight was a real bonus,” said Maples of his talented outfielder. “Tonight we knew we had to have it, to move into second place. We were ready to play, and had a chance to blow it open in the first inning.”

That Vela did not do so was a tribute to Natalie Rodriguez and the battling North squad, which dropped to 5-3, tied for third with P-SJ-A Memorial.

“Natalie is a warrior, you can tell, she kept them in the game when we had an opportunity for big numbers early,” Maples said. “I can’t say enough about her, and the Lady Cougars, they did a great job.”

The Lady Sabes, looking to contend for the 31-6A title, have taken advantage of some adversity to get back on track the last three games.

“We lost to P-SJ-A North, 1-0, and it was a real wakeup call for us,” Maples noted. “We couldn’t get runners on and the Raiders took their chances and got a run. It is a reality check, maybe we were getting a little big-headed, but since then we have scored runs and played well. Now we are going to enjoy the break, and come back ready for the Bobcats.”

EHS went to 8-0 with a 20-0 rout of Econ Thursday, and has scored 44 runs the last two outings, 111 for the district slate while allowing just 15 in eight victories. The Lady ‘Cats are ranked No. 2 in the Valley, making Tuesday’s game at home against Vela yet another must-see attraction from the fast-pitch scene.

 

BOYS SEND 1 OF 3 TO AREA SOCCER ROUND

Three boys’ soccer units took the field for the playoffs last week and one survived the tough draws against vaunted District 32-6A foes.

North fought Brownsville Hanna well Saturday at home, taking a 2-1 lead in overtime on a Carlos Rodriguez goal, but the Coogs saw the Eagles draw level late and win the penalty kicks portion to advance to the area round.

EHS had its moments against 32-6A champ Brownsville Rivera Thursday at Richard R. Flores Stadium before ending up down, 5-3.

The lone survivor was Econ, which went to Los Fresnos and made it out, despite playing a man down late. The Jags, who won the PKs after a 3-3 tie following 80 minutes, advance to take on a terrific team, Juarez-Lincoln, in the area round. For the second straight season Coach Sam Gonzalez’ crew defeated Los Fresnos in bi-district, and will now face off with a Lincoln team that journeyed all the way to the state Final 4 in 2017 before dropping out.

 

HOOPS AWARDS START COMING

The RGV Basketball Coaches Association came out with its All-Valley team recently and a number of locals were represented.

Noeh Sekinger of Vela and the EHS pair of Jesus Cantu and Antoine Woodard were first team selections, Bobcat Damian Garcia second, Trey Chavana (Vela) and Felix Aleman (North) third.

EHS star Jayla Santa Maria shared girls’ MVP honors with Bri Pena of Weslaco while Santa Maria’s teammate, freshman A’nnika Saenz, was Newcomer of the Year. Second unit All-Valley picks included: Kayleen Rios and Bianca Cortez of Vela; Mercedes Hernandez and Jenessah Santa Maria of EHS; and Leslie Martinez of North. North’s Bri Martinez was third team, Bri Sanchez of EHS honorable mention.

The Monitor’s All-Area team came out last weekend with similar results. Sekinger and Woodard were first team while Cantu and Izaiah Rangel of North were second. Vela’s David Keith copped Coach of the Year honors in his first season with the program.

 

MORE SPRING NEWS

Powerlifting is becoming a strong suit for the city schools, especially among girls, as no fewer than eight city kids were medalists at the recent state meet in Waco. Econ and EHS had three winners each, Vela two, while the boys got one, from Econ.

The district tennis tournament came off last weekend at EHS and Vela, with a handful of 31-6A winners. Lovette Sanez of North was the girls’ champ in singles while EHS had the girls’ doubles winner with Geo Ramirez and Yaneth de Leon. North took the mixed doubles title, with Vela second.