It never fails these days. When the chips are down, the Lady Bobcats know they can count on sophomore Katy Truitt to come through large. Especially if she’s sick or hurting.
It seems that the strapping outfielder rises to the occasion with adversity staring her in the face; Friday at home against North, she blasted a game-tying home run with two outs in the sixth. Then, with the contest on the line in the eighth she stepped up and belted another dinger, this one good for three runs and the ball game, 8-5, as EHS rallied from a 5-0 hole to rise to 11-1 in District 31-6A, 25-6 overall.
After her dramatic sixth-inning bomb that took the score from 5-3, Lady Coogs to a knot of fives, someone in the dugout remarked that every time Truitt’s under the weather, look out below. And truly, the Lehigh University signee was super sick Friday. But as truly, she rose for mammoth at-bats to carry a team that had lost its first league game recently, and was trying to remain two notches up on the rest of the district pack.
The other variable to a classic clash, worthy of the Grudge Match tag for certain, was a technical change that the Lady ‘Cats went for in practice last week.
“We got away from the pitching machine, went to front toss, seeing rise balls and curves,” explained Coach Ramon Arciba. “There is a big difference in mechanics, I think we were getting a bit complacent, so we changed it up, to keep it fun and to get ready for the big games.”
Truitt, for one, agreed with the decision.
“I prefer front toss, actually,” said the muscular 6-footer who now has six homers, 25 RBI, and a massive .833 slugging percentage in 30 games. “Real movement, like in the games; I like to hit a real ball, too.”
As for the pressure, it was gargantuan after the Lady Coogs came out blazing, executing and believing, plating two runs in the first on a two-run, opposite field smash by catcher Hope Rodriguez and then three more in the third. After scoring five on six hits, North was limited to just one hit the rest of the way by junior Erica Cortez (13-2, 1.81 ERA), who contributed a two-run tater in the third to narrow the gap to 5-3 and set the stage for the Blonde Bomber.
In the sixth, Maya Zavala led off with a single, Kristee Salas bunted her over, and with two gone, up stepped Truitt.
First pitch, gone!
With Cortez throwing zeroes at North, the Lady Bobcats were ready to take it in the eighth. But after Amber Reyes singled and went two more bases after an outfield error, a safety squeeze was foiled when North gunned Reyes at the plate after getting the runner at first.
Two outs now. No worries.
Salas, who leads the team with an otherworldly .957 slugging mark, was clutch with a hit and so was Cortez, who paces the roster with a whopping 47 RBI. Truitt then did what Truitt does on her sick days but also on many others this year. She went yard, sending her teammates into jubilance and ending a superb effort from the Lady Coogs, who dropped to 8-4 and into a third-place tie with P-SJ-A Memorial. Vela (9-3) holds second after a 3-0 victory over Pharr North Friday.
“I just try to stay focused up at the plate, even though I know the situation,” Truitt said about the big money moments. “I just try and make it like batting practice. I wasn’t looking to hit a home run either time, I just wanted to get a base hit, stay down and hit through the ball … I don’t know ... Home runs just come when they come.”
Salas confirmed that Truitt had been feeling poorly all day, but still managed to produce when the team needed her, embodying the EHS penchant for performing when it matters.
“North came out well, they were sound on defense and they took it to us for awhile,” said the trusty third sacker. “The loss we had to Memorial, that was good because we needed it, I guess. Better in district than in the playoffs. The loss forced us, as a team and as individuals, to reflect, see some mistakes and correct them.”
Arciba was proud of his group for not giving in or up, especially after the Lady Bobcats were outplayed through the early stages.
“We were flat, looking heavy and slow on defense but I knew we could come back,” he explained. “North brought it off the bat, credit to them. Gradually, though, we started to chip away. The girls know I am hard on them, and they put up with me because they know I have their best interest at heart. The thing is, we put a lot of pressure on them so they can come out and be mentally tough in these big games.”