Everyone knows that with four schools in town now, the athletic talent has been sliced and diced, divided evenly (roughly, mathematically anyway) among the quartet of competitors. This means that the chances of any one program fashioning a killer 1 through 9 in the softball lineup have gotten more faint.
At least that’s what people say.
Last week, the Lady Bobcats were able to put the lie to that limiting axiom as the bottom third of the order came up with some awesome contributions to help lead a sweep past an overmatched Weslaco East outfit in bi-district.
The Lady Bobcats, now 29-6, advance to the area round for the eighth time in nine years, thanks in part to the exploits of lesser known kids such as sophomore 1B Bryahne Salinas and senior OF Celeste Trevino. The former knocked a homer and a double in Game One Thursday and the latter drove in four and made a scintillating running catch to end the 12-1 rout at home. Seventh hitter Bri Sanchez scored a pair of runs in the rampage and the hustling senior made a great diving try at a putout from second base midway through. Speedy courtesy runner Val de Leon was, as always, spotless at her craft. In Game Two Friday, the bottom four in the order went 5 for 11.
So while the stars are who they are – and that spectacularly includes the Blonde Bomber, Katy Truitt, who has set a single-season city record with 11 home runs – the rest of the gang is pitching in these days. If they can continue to be effective as the going gets tougher, the Lady Bobcats might be playing softball deep into the month of May.
Thursday was a rude awakening for East, a .500 club that mustered the fourth seed from 32-6A. At one point, the Lady Wildcats found themselves down 11-0 and had only six straight strikeouts off Erika Cortez to show for their work, such that it was, at the dish.
They managed a meager two hits and fanned 10 times, falling into an insurmountable hole after EHS scored five runs in the first inning and six more in the second.
Run-rule conquests are few and far between in the postseason, but EHS put its prey away in five frames Thursday as Maya Zavala went 3 for 4, Amber Reyes was 2 for 4, and the team produced 14 safeties all told. Six of them came from the 6 through 9 holes, as junior Julia Tamez also hit a single.
Friday offered more of the same on the road, as the Lady ‘Cats stormed to a 15-5 victory to punch their ticket onward. Next up will be Eagle Pass, which came back from a 1-game deficit to take down McAllen Rowe in bi-district.
Now looms a possible collision with powerhouse San Benito in the wings. The Lady Greyhounds (24-7) dispatched Edinburg North (22-11) Friday to cap the one-game bi-district series, and will face SA Southwest in the area round.
The team that eliminates EHS is going to have to bring it, big time, as the Lady ‘Cats are looking formidable. They hit .416 as a team and average 9.2 runs per game. The batting resume includes a whopping 122 extra-base hits, with 29 home runs and 82 doubles.
Junior 3B Kristee Salas has showed her incredible value all season with 16 doubles, four triples, 20 walks and six sacrifice bunts; she leads the team in the latter three categories, and is second in two-baggers behind Cortez (17, with 57 RBI). Reyes has a ridiculous 72 hits so far and went 5 for 8 against East, also pitching the win in Game Two. Her batting average as a senior? Only a measly .610! Cortez checks in at .538 and Truitt is clouting away at .510. The scariest thing is, there are only three seniors on this uber-talented squad: Reyes, Trevino, and Sanchez.
Looking to the area round: Eagle Pass should be a name that rises easily from the memory for town fans, as the Lady Eagles have been a frequent obstacle in the postseason. EHS faced them in 2012 and won, but lost in 2015. Vela was eliminated by them in 2013 and 2014, North in 2014 and 2015.
From 2011-2016 Eagle Pass averaged 26 wins a year, including the high-water mark of 2014, when it captured 38 victories and made the final 8 before losing to San Marcos.
This year’ bunch is good but not great at 18-10 overall, and had to overcome a Game One loss to Rowe to take two straight and advance, winning 11-1 and 13-2. The club has wheels but little pop and dropped a pair to SA O’Connor and South San Antonio this season. It did score a solid verdict over SA Reagan early in the campaign, splitting with SA Southwest and Laredo Alexander in district play to finish third in 29-6A.