Good Times for one, Hard Times for the other, no two ways around it. And Friday was all the illustration one would need to understand the softball facts.
For Vela, the 10-8 win at EHS was an expected result, though the final margin was closer than the 5-0 Lady SaberCats would have liked. The Valley’s No. 1 team has now outscored its league foes 73-12 and beaten North and Weslaco, meaning the 31-6A title path runs through Vela now.
For the Lady Bobcats, who dropped to 2-3 with the defeat, the night showed their weaknesses but their strength as well. The former came in the form of a three-run dong by Kristee Salas in the first, good for an early 3-2 lead, and in the pride and energy that enabled the Lady ‘Cats to don the rally caps for a 5-run seventh. It was not enough to stave off defeat, bottom line.
The night would not have been town sports as of late, it seems, without the ubiquitous fan-on-fan meanness at the close, a slightly disturbing recent trend that begs for succor from mature and reasonable adults, wherever they may be. The game itself was interesting enough, with the wounded tiger scrapping to stay in the hunt and the ascendant power seeking to continue its dominance.
As will generally be the case, there were a few key junctures in this one, and as is also usually the case, they went against the underdog.
After the hard-charging Salas launched her homer to right field, EHS held the lead at 3-2 into the fourth, when doubles from Bri Salinas and Darissa Buenrostro paced a 2-run surge.
The Lady ‘Cats were ready to try and answer in their half, as Val de Leon bunted her way on and zoomed around the bases soon after on a single from Bryhane Salinas. But a deadly relay throw from the outfield was gathered in by second sacker Kameryn Casares, who whipped to the plate to catch de Leon an inch from the tie.
In the next frame, two EHS errors together with doubles from Monee Montilla and Buenrostro again got the Lady Sabes a pair of runs. For most of the night, the Edinburg outfield was a step behind the shots that Vela sent rising into the area, and one could imagine the departed Blonde Bomber, Katy Truitt having a chance to make some of the plays.
At any rate, Vela slapped away against two EHS hurlers, pushed into service after the transfer of MVP Erika Cortez, and went out in front 10-3 after six helped by an error, two wild pitches, and doubles from Gaby Villarreal and Julia Cordon of Vela.
Salinas was solid on the mound for Vela until the final inning, and in the fifth had bowed up to fan Maya Zavala looking to end a threat. In the seventh, EHS gave one last hurrah of effort, and it was a good one, all done with two outs.
Hannah Vega started the rage with a two-out pinch single and before long, the Lady ‘Cats were rolling with Zavala and Salas launching two-run doubles and the latter diving into home amid a cloud of dust and grit, scoring off an infield error by a Vela nine that relaxed, ever so slightly, near the Promised Land.
The game ended with a bizarre pinball wizard act, as a grounder by de Leon bounced off third baseman Karina Guzman right to an alert Salinas in the circle. She wheeled to nip the runner at first, closing the night and beginning a torrent of abuse at the umpire that morphed into a bit of a row between opposing supporters outside the fence.
Vela knocked out 12 hits, EHS nine, the difference being that between the heady first inning and the thrilling comeback of the seventh, the Lady ‘Cats managed just three singles off the hard-throwing Salinas. The Lady Sabes hit consistently as every kid in the lineup recorded a bingle at least, and the team scratched the plate in four of seven frames.
NOTES: This is the week for North, which rose to 4-1 in 31-6A with a 15-0 drubbing of Econ Friday. The Lady Cougars are at Weslaco Tuesday and then take on Vela Friday, and can really roil the race with a pair of triumphs.
North ex Melina Sanchez was in town last weekend before heading back up to Kingsville, where she is a graduate assistant coach for the school’s softball program. Working on a master’s degree and pondering a future in the Valley as a coach, Sanchez noted that EHS alum Amber Reyes has earned a starting slot in right field for A&M-Kingsville, and has done a “really good job so far.” Sanchez, one of the best softballers the city ever saw, should know about talent, because she had it in bunches.