It was the sort of game that champions find a way to win, overcoming a rocky start, getting clutch performances from veterans, and denying a testy visitor the Upset Special. And that is what the Lady Bobcats did Tuesday, rising from a first-inning speed bump to relentlessly pursue the enemy, finally passing the Lady Eagles for a 5-4 home win in eight innings.

After falling behind 3-0 due to a couple of early bombs from Corpus Christi Veterans right off the bat, EHS (at that stage 11-1) got down to business. Coach Ramon Arciba’s club, the defending champ in 31-6A, immediately connected with a counter shot, bagging a pair of runs in its half of the first. From there the Lady ‘Cats tied it in the second, gave away a run in the fourth to fall down by a run, and then shone in the thrilling late innings where one by one, Maya Zavala, Katy Truitt, and Erika Cortez provided key plays to salt away a fine triumph.

Zavala made a superb throw from her knees at short to nip a runner in the eighth, after Truitt had coolly slammed a two-out rope the opposite way to tie it in the seventh. Zavala finished the night in the eighth with a based loaded drive that plated the winning run.

In all, Arciba and his gang went through the gamut of emotions, keeping their cool and winning the day with money moments in a matchup with a relatively new school that plays some awfully awesome girls’ sports across the board.

“We want to face the tough teams, we need to learn how to do that,” said Arciba, adding that the Lady ‘Cats would soon undergo more testing at the Seguin Tournament, two days hence. “It’s all the mentality, I tried to tell them: hey, we got a long game ahead of us, seven innings, eight as it turned out. I am proud of the way they came back and didn’t quit.”

Quite a solid night of competition at EHS Tuesday as Vets busted out for three runs early, but after surrendering the homers, Cortez settled in and dominated the Lady Eagles from then on. She allowed five hits total, just two in the final seven frames, and smacked a run-scoring double in the EHS first. Truitt, who has been working through an illness, gutted it up to drive in the second run and though the Lady ‘Cats did not tie it, the knot was quickly forthcoming.

After senior Amber Reyes (went 3 for 4) doubled with one out in the second, Kristee Salas – now at third base after two seasons at first – slammed a two-bagger for the tying RBI. The Lady ’Cats have a formidable front half of the batting order in 2018, and are working on developing options from 5 through 9.

With the powerful junior Cortez mowing them down from the mound, EHS waited for the next comeback opportunity. Not even a dropped infield throw leading to a Vets run with two outs in the fourth could derail this determined crew. Finally, in the seventh, they leveled as Zavala cracked a solid single, Salas sacrificed, and with two outs, Truitt – a college commit already as a brilliant sophomore specimen – did wonders with a tough two-strike offering, waling a liner into the gap in right center.

After Zavala’s gems afield kept the fire going in the top of the eighth, Bri Sanchez began the telltale rally by coaxing a leadoff walk. With two down and the bases juiced, Zavala sent a long drive between the outfielders in left-center to cap it, and it was a job well done, all around.

Much buzz has been made over the fine start made by the Lady SaberCats of Vela, and with ample reason including victories over EHS and North so far. North will always be a contender for greatness, count on that. But those looking past EHS this season – and can there be many? – would do well to get ready, because this is going to be the most hard-fought city softball skirmish in recent memory. The Lady ‘Cats get a shot at their rival Vela soon enough: the second 31-6A night March 9 sees them at the Lady Sabe lair for what promises to be dynamite. This, after Vela travels to North for the opener, March 6.

NOTES: Vela (16-2) split on Day One of the Brownsville Tourney, losing to Los Fresnos but whipping Brownsville Vets, rebounding to beat San Benito and McAllen Memorial Friday, La Joya the next day. North was in Laredo, winning four of its first five into Saturday. The Lady Coogs (13-5) stumbled only against Flour Bluff, ending the tourney Saturday against Tuloso-Midway. EHS (14-5) had rough sledding at Seguin, losing to Denton Ryan, Harlandale and Incarnate Word, going 3-3 for the weekend. Econ comes into Tuesday’s home game against EHS after exploding for a program-record 25 runs against Lincoln Friday.