Lobos break open 29-4A opener with 10-run seventh
PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE SOUTHSIDE REPORTER STORY:
Sometimes the frequency of hits isn’t as important as when they materialize.
Uvalde’s base hits all seemed to arrive when the Lobos (7-7, 1-0) needed them Friday at the Frank Tejeda Complex. In the District 29-4A opener for both teams, the visitors only mustered two more hits than Harlandale (6-7-1, 0-1) but they utilized them to fashion a 17-4 victory.
“That was one of those nights I didn’t expect,” Uvalde coach Lee Summers said. “Normally, when we play Harlandale, it’s a two- or three-run game. The girls did a good job of (hitting in clutch situations) tonight.”
Harlandale took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning after Sabrina Esparza sliced a leadoff doubles to right-center field. Indians shortstop Jackie Espinoza followed with a tying RBI single, answering a run the Lobos had scored in the top half of the inning without the benefit of a hit.
A sacrifice fly from.freshman catcher Angelika Anguiano, a defensive standout, provided the short-lived lead. Uvalde tied it 2-2 in the top of the second after No. 9 hitter Merilee Parker smacked a double.
It was the only hit Harlandale junior pitcher Isabella Tellez permitted through the first three innings. Unfortunately, control was an issue for the first-year starter. She walked five and hit a batsman in that span. “We have a lot of players in new positions,” Harlandale coach Jennifer Bocanegra said. “We have a new pitcher and a new freshman catcher, who’s really stepped up and taken on a big role. She’s coming on, offensively and defensively.”
Bocanegra credited Espinoza, Esparza and first baseman Brittany Livas for providing stability while the positional newcomers develop.
Tellez gave up to walks in the fourth, ahead of a bases-clearing double from Uvalde standout Alessandra Ortiz (1-for-2, 5 RBI). The two-out extra-base hit gave the Lobos a 5-2 advantage.
Maya Tovar supplied a leadoff single in the fifth and scored on a wild pitch, bringing the Indians within 5-3. Uvalde added two runs without a hit in the sixth, then struck for 10 in the final inning as Esparza made her second appearance in the pitcher’s circle.
“Our biggest goal is the three key roles we need every year: steady pitching, consistent defense and timely hitting,” Bocanegra said. “We did have nine hits, but they weren’t timely hits.
“Coming into the season, hitting is what we were challenged to do. We need to outscore opponents to give our pitcher a lot of room not to be afraid to make a mistake.”
Uvalde scored its sixth-inning runs on a fielder’s choice and a walk. In the seventh, eight-consecutive batters reached base with one out. Six hit their way on. The Lobos had three doubles in the inning, including a two-run drive from winning pitcher Morgan Henderson and a three-run smash from Adrianna Estrada.
After finishing second in 29-4A last year, the Lobos have high aspirations for the district season.
“I think we’re starting to get some things to come together,” Summers said. “The girls are pumped up. Their goal is to win district. That’s the carrot we’re playing for. I think we can do it.”
Harlandale has 11 seniors on the roster, the most Bocanegra ever has had with the Indians.
She said an 8-2 win over McCollum a week earlier in the Harlandale ISD Tournament showed that her team is capable of being in the playoff mix in 29-4A. They hit from the leadoff position to the bottom of the order.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the games we need to win and steal a couple from the teams that are a challenge for us,” Bocanegra said. “Stealing games from the teams that our bigger competitors really is our biggest key.”