SOFTBALL: The Woodlands ends Southwest’s run in state semifinals

Highlanders ride 5-run first to run-rule win

Photo taken by KJ Toso. For more photos or to purchase photos, please visit: http://kjtoso.photoshelter.com

Southwest senior Gabby Flores rounds second base on her fourth-inning RBI double, while a Highlanderfs player awaits the throw from center field.
Southwest senior Gabby Flores rounds second base on her fourth-inning RBI double, while a Highlanders player awaits the throw from center field.

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The Woodlands scored five runs in the first inning and kept rolling on the way to a 12-2 victory in Southwest’s first state tournament game.
The Dragons couldn’t prevent the Highlanders (39-3), ranked No. 1 in one state poll, from scoring until the fifth inning Friday at McCombs Field in Austin. Southwest (34-12), known for its potent offense, wasn’t able to score until the fourth and fifth innings in the Class 5A semifinal.
Although the Dragons scored a run in each of those innings, they couldn’t get the key hits they needed to produce a big rally. They left two runners stranded on base in both the fourth and fifth.
Defensively, they struggled to overcome five Southwest errors and several well-placed hits by The Woodlands. Five of the Highlanders’ runs were unearned.
The Woodlands finished second at state. Rival Deer Park (39-6) defeated the Highlanders 8-2 in an all-Houston-area final Saturday.
Shortstop Aubrey Leach led off the bottom of the first inning with a single for The Woodlands. Following a bunt single by Sidney Salmans, Kaitlyn Stavinoha drove an RBI single up the middle. The Highlanders made it 2-0 on a fielder’s choice. Emily Langkamp produced another run with a single to right field.
Ahead 3-0, Brittany Mann and Amy Cimera followed with run-scoring base hits as The Woodlands batted around in the first inning.
The Dragons’ five-run deficit grew in the second inning.
Southwest picked up its first hit – a double from junior Yanira Fernandez that hit the right-field fence on one hop – but had difficulty adjusting to Woodlands left-handed starting pitcher Abby Langkamp. Fernandez was left on second base.
“I don’t know whether it had to do with being on that big of a stage or not,” Hernandez said, “but I’m giving credit to their pitching. They both had a different style. Once we started figuring out the left-hander, I thought Coach (Richard) Jorgensen made a perfect move to bring in the second pitcher. That second pitcher (Caitlin Bartsch) had the best change-up I’ve seen in a very long time.
“We were not really ready for that. It may have played a role, being on that big stage. I guess we took a step in the right direction. I’m really looking forward to next season.”
Salmans started another Highlanders’ rally with her second bunt hit. An opposite-field single from cleanup hitter Shelby Dublin drove in one run. The Highlanders’ pitcher added another with a sacrifice fly.
Faced with a 7-0 deficit after two innings, the Dragons began putting better at-bats together.
With The Woodlands’ outfield playing shallow, senior Amanda Sanchez made its center fielder chase down her double. On a ground out by Kristal Salinas, Sanchez aggressively motored home from second base to score Southwest’s first run.
Senior center fielder Liz Phillips beat out a dribbler down the third-base line for an infield single and Kayla Arguello walked on four pitches, but the Dragons couldn’t narrow the deficit any further and the Highlanders matched the run in their half of the third on an infield single from Salmans.
In the fourth, the Dragons found success by hitting to the opposite field. Sophomore Caitlin Terrazas, who had relieved Kamerie Vidales in the pitcher’s circle, and senior Gabby Flores (2-for-3, RBI) slammed back-to-back doubles to right field. Courtesy runner Megan Hernandez scored on Flores’ hit to make it 8-2.
Flores’ shot found the wall.
“It was just like any other pitcher,” she said. “It was a little nerve-wracking, because I knew my teammate had done her job. I just needed to follow through, and I did.”
A Southwest error allowed a run in The Woodlands’ half of the fourth and a sacrifice fly from Leach increased the Highlanders’ lead to eight runs.
The Dragons had another opportunity for a big inning in the fifth. Phillips and Arguello began the inning with a pair of walks on four pitches apiece. Jorgensen brought in Bartsch to relieve Langkamp (26-0). The senior retired three batters in a row to prevent the Dragons from scoring.
Bartsch gave up one hit and struck out three in two innings. Flores had the Dragons’ hit, on a slow roller down the first-base line in the sixth, an inning after she threw out a runner at second base.
“It was the kind of hard, because there was a big difference,” Flores said, referring to the contrast between the two Highlanders pitchers. “But, in that little time, you have to find a way to make something happen.
“The second hit wasn’t anything like the first, but whatever works and gets you on (base), that’s what you want to do.”
Terrazas retired the Highlanders in order in the fifth. She allowed two earned runs in four innings of work.
The Woodlands ended the game in the sixth with a two-run, pinch-hit double from senior Amy Harvey. The Highlanders finished with 13 hits. Southwest had six.
“As far as San Antonio and even at the San Marcos tournament,” Hernandez said, “there was never a team that had that style of play – that had perfected small ball to the extent that The Woodlands did. They were the first team in 45 games.
“I even had the track team come out and slap at the ball (in practices during the week). We were taking an extra second here or an extra second there. They took advantage of those bobbles. All credit goes to them.”

 

SOFTBALL: The Woodlands scouting report

Southwest (34-11) vs. The Woodlands (38-3)

Class 5A semifinals

6 p.m. Friday at McCombs Field, Austin

The Woodlands, No. 1 in one state poll, is making its second state appearance and hopes the outcome is the same as its first excursion to Austin in 2011.

The Highlanders won the Class 5A title. Three players return who participated in that title game, seniors Caitln Bartsch, center fielder Amy Cimera and second baseman Sidney Salmans.

Bartsch, a University of Nebraska signee, is The Woodlands’ No. 2 pitcher, as she was that season. She has an 11-1 record and 1.72 ERA.. Cimera and Salmans, a Northwestern State (La.) commit, both have batting averages over .400.

Junior left-handed pitcher Abby Langkamp is the key for the Highlanders. She has a perfect 25-0 record to go with a 1.43 ERA in 151 2/3 innings. The Baylor commit has stuck out 180 and walked 31 while pitching 14 shutouts.

The offensive leaders include juniors shortstop Aubrey Leach (.594 batting average, 46 RBIs, 49 stolen bases) and first baseman Shelby Dublin (.366 batting average, 31 RBIs). Dublin is another Highlander who has chosen Northwestern State as a college destination. Leah has committed to the University of Tennessee.

Other players to watch include Leach’s sister, freshman Kelcy Leach, and junior third baseman Kaitlin Stavinoha .(440 batting average, 46 RBIs). The younger Leach, a catcher, has a team-high 10 home runs and is batting .339 with 34 RBIs. Senior left fielder Brittany Manns, who’ll play at Dartmouth College, has a .377 batting .average.

Like Southwest, The Woodlands has a six-game winning streak. The Highllanders have won 29 of their last 30 games.

SOFTBALL: Road to the state tournament

Road to the state tournament

Scores for each 2014 Southwest playoff game

Bi-district round

(Southwest won series 2-0)

Southwest 15, Brandeis 2 (5 innings)

Southwest 12, Brandeis 6

Area round

(Southwest won series 2-1)

Judson 8, Southwest 4

Southwest 14, Judson 4 (6 innings)

Southwest 14, Judson 7

Region IV quarterfinals

(Southwest won series 2-0)

Southwest 11, Steele 9

Southwest 6, Steele 3

Region IV semifinals

(Southwest won series 2-0)

Southwest 7, San Benito 2

Southwest 9, San Benito 6

Region IV championship

(Southwest won series 2-1)

San Marcos 17, Southwest 7 (5 innings)

Southwest 7, San Marcos 3

Southwest 8, San Marcos 7 (8 innings)

Totals

Southwest 10-2 postseason record

Southwest 114, opponents 74

 

Scores for each 2014 The Woodlands playoff game

Bi-district round

(The Woodlands won series 2-0)

The Woodlands 12, Klein Collins 2

The Woodlands 11, Klein Collins 6

Area round

(The Woodlands won series 2-0)

The Woodlands 11, Austin Bowie 6

The Woodlands 5, Austin Bowie 3

Region II quarterfinals

(The Woodlands won series 2-1)

Humble Atoscocita 9, The Woodlands 7

The Woodlands 12, Humble Atoscocita 5

The Woodlands 7, Humble Atoscocita 4

Region II semifinals

(The Woodlands won series 2-0)

The Woodlands 8, Plano West 3

The Woodlands 9, Plano West 3

Region II championship

(The Woodlands won series 2-0)

The Woodlands 14, Rockwall 9

The Woodlands 2, Rockwall 1

Totals

The Woodlands 10-1 postseason record

The Woodlands 108, opponents 41

SOFTBALL: Southwest 2014 photo gallery (photos by KJ Toso)

Photos taken by KJ Toso. For more photos or to purchase photos, please visit: http://kjtoso.photoshelter.com

Southwest shortstop Krystal Salinas.
Southwest shortstop Kristal Salinas.
Dragons senior catcher Gabby Flores.
Dragons senior catcher Gabby Flores.
Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales.
Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales.
Dragons senior Liz Phillips.
Dragons senior Liz Phillips.
Southwest junior Caitlin Terrazas.
Southwest sophomore Caitlin Terrazas.
Senior Kamerie Vidales.
Senior Kamerie Vidales.
Dragons sophomore Megan Hernandez.
Dragons sophomore Megan Hernandez.
Kristal Salinas, Faith Aguilar, Amanda Sanchez and Yanira Fernandez (from left to right).
Kristal Salinas, Faith Aguilar, Amanda Sanchez and Yanira Fernandez (from left to right).
Southwest senior catcher Gabby Flores.
Southwest senior catcher Gabby Flores.

SOFTBALL: State playoff schedule/results (complete)

NOTE: teams we cover are in boldface

Games of May 25-31

Friday’s games

CLASS 5A

State semifinals

Deer Park (38-6) 6, Lubbock Coronado (36-5) 1

The Woodlands (39-3) 12, Southwest (34-12) 2 (6 innings)

Saturday’s game

CLASS 5A

State championship

Deer Park (39-6) 8, The Woodlands (39-4) 2

SOFTBALL: Southwest perseveres to lock in first trip to state

Dragons edge San Marcos in 8th inning

Photos taken by KJ Toso. For more photos or to purchase photos, please visit: http://kjtoso.photoshelter.com

Southwest center fielder Liz Phillips, left, and right fielder Faith Aguilar contributed to Southwest's regional championship. Phillips drove in three runs and threw out a runner at home plate. Aguilar made a running catch for the game's final out in Game 3.
Southwest center fielder Liz Phillips, left, and right fielder Faith Aguilar contributed to Southwest’s regional championship. Phillips drove in three runs and threw out a runner at home plate. Aguilar made a running catch for the final out in Game 3.
Senior Kamerie Vidales blanked San Marcos over the last five innings and hit a two-run double.
Senior Kamerie Vidales blanked San Marcos over the last five innings and hit a two-run double.
Dragons sophomore Megan Hernandez had been primarily a courtesy runner, but played a solid left field in the series and drove in the winning run in Game 2 with a suicide squeeze bunt.
Dragons sophomore Megan Hernandez had been primarily a courtesy runner, but played a solid left field in the series and drove in the winning run in Game 2 with a suicide squeeze bunt.

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Southwest began the third game of the Region IV finals as though they were going to win it in a sprint. When it turned into a marathon, the Dragons had the finishing kick they needed to qualify for state.
The Dragons (34-11) lost an early lead, but recovered to defeat San Marcos (33-11) 8-7 in eight innings before an estimated crowd of 1,600 Saturday at St. Mary’s University’s Rattler Softball Stadium. They won the last two games of the best-of-three series after losing the opener by 10 runs to San Marcos.
Southwest claimed its second-straight win over the Rattlers, who had won their first seven postseason games.
“They were the first team we played that was like us,” Southwest senior pitcher-first baseman Kamerie Vidales said, the winning pitcher in Game 3. “They really wanted to win. They wanted it just as much as we did. Even though it was going to be difficult, we were going to do everything we could to come up with a win.”
Southwest will play The Woodlands (38-3) at 6 p.m. Friday in the Class 5A semifinals at Red & Charline McCombs Field on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Deer Park (37-6) faces Lubbock Coronado (36-4) in the other semifinal. The finals are scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Dragons squared the series with San Marcos Friday with a commanding 7-3 win that forced the decisive game. Unlike that game, Southwest trailed for much of Saturday’s contest.
“I’m not going to lie,” sixth-year Southwest coach Sandy Hernandez said. “We have come from behind so many times, I started to wonder if we’d run out of chances. I started thinking that, maybe, San Marcos deserves this more than we do.
“But (the girls) never doubted it. Really, the seniors stepped up and played their butts off.”
Senior Liz Phillips (3-for-5, 3 RBIs) produced the game-winning hit with two outs in the eighth, sending a single to the right-center field gap on an 0-2 count. Phillips drove in sophomore left fielder Megan Hernandez, who had walked and taken second on Kristal Salinas’ ground out.
“It’s my senior year,” Phillips explained. “Like I told my team before the game, I was going to leave it all on my field. If my season was going to end today, I was going to leave it all on the field.
“I knew that, if I didn’t do it then, there might never be a chance to do it again. I wanted to try to help my team and get it done for them.”
The fourth-year starter was the linchpin in the Dragons’ comeback.
“In 2011, Katrisha Arocha was my pitcher, and she was amazing,” Sandy Hernandez said. “I felt like, if we got two runs, we could beat anybody.
“I always knew this group of seniors could do it. Kam, Gabby (Flores), Liz, Kayla (Arguello) and Amanda (Sanchez) have played together so long and wanted it so much.
“I didn’t know if it would take six years or nine years, but I knew, eventually, Southwest would get to state.”
Phillips, who had thrown out a runner at second base in the fourth after a running catch, gunned down a potential winning run at the plate in the seventh. San Marcos’ Ciandra Kinere, who relieved Rattlers starting pitcher Victoria Vasquez, smacked a leadoff single. Kinere (3-for-5, RBI) rounded third on Maddie Bumgardner’s single up the middle.
Phillips grabbed the ball on the hop and fired home. She said she didn’t look for a cutoff person.
“I thought it might be one step to the side (of the plate),” she said, “but I was going to make it. I knew it was going to be close. It felt good leaving my hand.”
Sophomore catcher Miranda Gonzales had the plate blocked and applied the tag for the crucial third out in the seventh, sending the game to extra innings.
Offensively, Phillips tied the score 7-7 with a two-run triple in the sixth. She launched the ball to the wall in the right-center field alley, driving in Flores and Megan Hernandez, who contributed singles. It was the senior’s second triple of the series. She batted .500 (6-for-12) over the three games.
“I thought I could get it done,” Phillips said of her hitting since breaking out of a slump in the regional semifinals. “I believed in myself.”
Vidales (15-5) worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the eighth, retiring Ciandra Kinere on a fly out to right fielder Faith Aguilar, to end the game and complete her sixth inning without allowing a run.
“I just knew I had to step up and back up my pitcher,” Vidales said, referring to starter Caitlin Terrazas. “We work as a team, and I had to do it for my team. .”
The Rattlers had led 7-5 after three innings.
Southwest had taken the lead on a three-run home run in the first inning from Arguello, but San Marcos answered with two runs in its half of the inning – giving an indication of the battle about to unfold.
Salinas began the game with a double to straightaway center. Phillips followed with an opposite-field single, ahead of Arguello’s long home run to left field. Surprisingly, it was Southwest’s only home run of the series after belting at least one in eight of the previous nine games.
In fact, the first five Dragons batters made solid contact against San Marcos starter Victoria Vasquez.
The Rattlers scored on RBI singles from Stephanie Marmolejo (3-for-5, RBI) and Kinere but, in both cases, Southwest threw out runners to limit the damage. Vidales cut a throw from the outfield and redirected the ball to third base for a put out. Hernandez threw out Kinere at second base as she tried to stretch her hit.
In all, the Dragons eliminated four runners on the basepaths – no small factor in a one-run game.
Southwest pushed its lead to 5-2 in the third inning. Phillips was safe on an error and Arguello was struck by pitch, putting two runners in scoring position for Vidales (2-for-4, 2 RBI). The senior clean-up hitter delivered a two-run double, which she crushed to dead center field.
The hit forced San Marcos coach Catherine Stoughton to make a bold gambit. She brought in Kinere to pitch for the first time since Spring Break.
“They’d seen Vic two games in a row, and they were starting to figure her out,” Stoughton said. “I was confident CiCi could come in and do it.”
Southwest junior Yanira Fernandez greeted Kinere with an infield single, but the Dragons couldn’t muster another hit against the Rattlers designated player until the sixth inning.
The Dragons had yet make the pitching change that altered the game for them.
Rattlers cleanup hitter Vianey Villalpando blasted a three-run home run that tied the game with none out in their half of the third. Kinere drove in the go-ahead run with a double that ended Terrazas’ outing.
Joshlynn Gonzales (2-for-3, RBI) added an RBI single as the first batter to face Vidales, but the run was charged to her predecessor. San Marcos led 7-5, but it wouldn’t get another runner as far as third base until the seventh.
“I’m proud of the way they played,” Stoughton said of her team. “CiCi (Kinere) came in and pitched great. They really wanted it.”
The Dragons began to solve Kinere in the sixth inning. Flores sparked the rally with a leadoff single. Hernandez then wedged a base hit between the Rattlers’ third baseman and shortstop. Phillips brought them both home with the triple that enabled Southwest to send Game 3 to extra innings.
San Marcos outhit Southwest 14-10. Half of the Dragons’ hits were compiled in the last three innings, one exibit in building a case for themselves as a team of destiny.
“I told them, ‘God put us together for a reason,” Hernandez said.
Southwest had been eliminated in the area round each of the previous two years after advancing to the Region IV quarterfinals in 2011. This year’s District 28-5A champs – the third 30-plus-win Southwest team in four years – seemed to develop more mental toughness with each passing week, leading to a 10-2 postseason record.
“I’ve seen us grow this entire season, more and more,” Vidales said. “We couldn’t be beaten. We had our ups and downs. There were times when we didn’t all get along, but that just brought us closer together in the end.
“There was no way I could think about going on without my team. I love these girls. I knew we were going to go on to state.”
The Dragons are the school’s first team to advance to state in a sport other than track.
“It’s more than I could ask for,” Phillips said. “I never thought we could do something this amazing.”

SOFTBALL: Southwest rebounds to deal San Marcos first 2014 postseason loss

Dragons keep fighting for state berth

Junior Caitilin Terrazas allowed five hits as a pitcher and drove in two runs at the plate in Southwest's Game 2 win over San Marcos.
Sophomore Caitlin Terrazas allowed five hits as a pitcher and drove in two runs at the plate in Southwest’s Game 2 win over San Marcos.

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Southwest drew on both its inner and its physical reserves Friday at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1 to force a third game in its Class 5A Region IV final series with San Marcos.

On the heels of a 10-run loss to the Rattlers in the series opener, Southwest coach Sandy Hernandez made a couple of cosmetic changes to her batting order and shared some words of wisdom designed to lighten her team’s psychological load, then sent them off to meet the challenge. Unlike Game 1, the Dragons (34-10) produced in clutch situations and stifled most of San Marcos’ scoring opportunities on their way to a momentum-changing 7-3 victory.

The Rattlers (33-10) lost for the first time this postseason, ending a 10-game winning streak.

“When I met with them out o n the mound I told them,” Hernandez said, ” ‘Players that fight never lose games, they just run out of time. I love you. Just go out there and play, girls. If you do what you love, you’ll always be successful. Have fun.’

“They really responded. No one can beat us when we do that.”

The series concludes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Mary’s University. The winner advances to the Class 5A state tournament.

Southwest replaced injured senior left fielder Amanda Sanchez with sophomore Megan Hernandez in the No. 9 slot and flip-flopped two of its regulars. Senior Gabby Flores was shifted from catcher to designated player. Sophomore Miranda Gonzales, who normally is the DP, started behind the plate. Classmate Isabel Soto was a late-inning defensive replacement in right field for Faith Aguilar.

Flores, Gonzalez and Hernandez each finished 1-for-3 with an RBI. More importantly, they were key contributors to the Dragons’ three-run rally in the third and two-run rally in the sixth.

Hernandez laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt for what proved to be the winning run.

“We had people pull together for those that were out,” the Southwest coach said. “Megan had been contributing off the bench very well. She had been bunting well, so I asked her if she wanted to bunt again, and she said ‘yes.’

“Faith has been doing a great job all season. Isabel came off the bench and made that great catch in right field in the seventh. The bench came through.”

Southwest never trailed in Game 2, but was tied 1-1 for a few moments in the third inning, before Hernandez’s bunt.

The Dragons seemingly were at their best in clutch situations all evening, and none was more important than when San Marcos’ No. 3 hitter Stephanie Marmolejo faced sophomore pitcher Caitlin Terrazas with two runners on base in the sixth inning and the Dragons’ 5-3 lead potentially in jeopardy.

Marmolejo had hit two home runs and drove in six runs in Game 1.

“We allow them the previous at-bat, but we don’t really worry about what they did,” said Terrazas, who held the Rattlers to five hits. “She hit two home runs. Good for her. But I was going to come back and stay under control.

“I stayed confident in my defense. I was not going to give her anything over the plate. I was going to make her work for it.”

Terrazas retired Marmolejo on an inning-ending line out to left. She also stranded Vianey Villalpando (2-for-3) at second base after the San Marcos cleanup hitter led off the seventh with a double.

Between those at-bats, Southwest added two clinching runs in the bottom of the sixth.

The rally began with consecutive singles from senior Kayla Arguello, Kamerie Vidales and Yanira Fernandez. Fernandez (2-for-3, RBI) made it 6-3 on a slow roller to third base.

Terrazas (2-for-3, 2 RBI) re-loaded the bases with a walk. Flores sent a fly ball to center field that Gabby Guerrero was able to run down for a great catch, but Vidales was able to score on the sacrifice.

Vidales (2-for-4) produced the Dragons’ first run when she dropped a two-out single into center field. San Marcos answered with a two-out, RBI double from Marmolejo (1-for-2, RBI) to the left-center field gap.

Southwest center fielder Liz Phillips quickly retrieved the ball and relayed it to shortstop Kristal Salinas. Salinas’ throw to Gonzales at the plate was in time to prevent a go-ahead run for the Rattlers and end the inning.

“I got up at one point and said we should win every inning,” Terrazas said, referring to a pre-game conversation. “If we don’t score, they don’t score. If they score two runs, we score three.”

In hindsight, the Dragons won the game by winning the third inning. Southwest built a 4-1 lead in the third.

A leadoff walk to Arguello (1-for-2) and a bloop single from Fernandez preceded an RBI single to center field from Terrazas. Ahead 2-1, Southwest loaded the bases with an opposite-field single from Flores and scored on Gonzales’ base on balls. That set the stage for Hernandez.

The sophomore pushed the bunt to third base as Fernandez dashed almost halfway down the third-base line. Fernandez scored standing up.

“That was fun,” Terrazas said. “We really needed runs there. I wish we’d gotten more. Megan got the job done for the team.”

San Marcos scored in the fourth when Guerrero came home on a bobble after Ciandra Kinere’s single, but Southwest matched the run in the bottom of the inning. Terrazas did the honors with a two-out single.

The Rattlers closed within 5-3 in the fifth. Marmolejo scored on errant throw off Guerrero’s fly out. Terrazas retired the next two batters to leave a San Marcos runner on third base.

“I tried to stay with what was working,” Terrazas said, “and stay away from what wasn’t.”

It’s safe to say the Dragons succeeded in doing the same.

SOFTBALL: San Marcos outslugs Southwest in Game 1

Dragons’ six-game win streak ends in Region IV finals

Liz Phillips was Southwest's top hitter Thursday against San Marcos, going 2-for-4.
Liz Phillips was Southwest’s top hitter Thursday against San Marcos, going 2-for-4.

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After winning four of their previous five games by one run, San Marcos apparently was ready to break out offensively.

The Rattlers (33-10) turned the tables on Southwest (33-10) Thursday at the Northeast ISD Complex west field, battering the Dragons for nine runs in the first inning. San Marcos, undefeated in the postseason, won 17-7 in Game 1 of the best-of-three Class 5A Region IV final series.

“I guess we weren’t ready for that offense,” Southwest coach Sandy Hernandez said. “They scored 17 runs. I can’t remember the last time anybody scored that many runs against us.

“I told the team, ‘We win together and we lose together.’ We’re going to come out strong tomorrow, that’s for sure.”

San Marcos outhit Southwest 16-6.

The most a Dragons opponent had scored before Thursday was 13 runs, matched by South San March 13 and Eagle Pass on March 15. No team had scored more runs against Southwest since at least 2010.

Southwest will need a win Friday at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1 to extend the series and keep their hopes of reaching the state finals alive. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

San Marcos had only scored in double figures in one of its first six playoff games, defeating Madison 14-4 in the bi-district round. The Dragons, who’ve scored 10 or more runs five times in the postseason, had averaged 10.2 runs in their previous nine playoff games.

“With these two teams, I knew there’d be a lot of offense,” San Marcos coach Catherine Stoughton said. “Victoria (Vasquez, San Marcos’ pitcher) didn’t have her best stuff, but she kept them off balance. We made some plays behind her that helped her shut them down at key times.

“We came out and hit the ball, like we have all year. Our girls were so pumped and so ready. Against a team like Southwest, those early runs helped. We knew we had to keep scoring from the beginning.“

The Dragons took a 2-0 lead in their half of the first inning In front of an overflow crowd.

Southwest senior walked and scored on a wild pitch with two outs. Yanira Fernandez followed with an RBI double from Ciandre Kinere (3-for-3, 3 RBIs) put the Rattlers in the lead.

San Marcos tied it on a two-run home run from Stephanie Marmolejo (3-for-4, 6 RBIs), three batters into their order. A two-run double from home run, straightaway left on 3-1 pitch.

They produced five doubles among their seven hits in the first inning. Marmolejo came up again in the inning and crunched a two-run double that made it 9-2.

“When Stephanie hit the ball out of here,” Stoughton said, “the girls really knew our momentum shifted. It really gave them confidence.”

The Rattlers scored three more runs in the second, fueled by three walks and two hits. The Dragons had to fight to keep their deficit under 10 runs thereafter.

San Marcos, which equaled its season-high of 17 runs for the third time this season, scored at least two runs in each inning. It was the second 17-run outing in the Rattlers’ current ninth-consecutive game.

Southwest alternated Kamerie Vidales and Caitlin Terrazas in the pitcher’s circle before finally turning to sophomore Amanda Cerda in the fourth. Vidales and Terrazas combined to issue seven walks and one hit batsman.

“We need to be a little more aggressive at the plate,” Hernandez said. “We let Victoria off balance. Defensively, we need to keep the ball low and change speeds effectively. We didn’t do that today.”

Vasquez also struggled with the plate umpire’s tight strike zone, surrendering six walks.

“They hit Vic hard at times,” Stoughton said, “but she made some good pitches.”

Dragons pitchers, however, fell behind early in the count too often, which led to the Rattlers getting pitches to hit in 2-1 and 3-1 counts. Marmolejo’s first home run came on a 3-1 pitch.

Senior center fielder Liz Phillips hit an opposite-field triple to lead off the the third inning. Phillips scored on a single from Arguello that made it 12-3. Arguello, for the second time, crossed the plate on a wild pitch.

An RBI single from Kinere and a two-run single from Vasquez (3-for-4, RBI) gave the Rattlers an 11-run cushion in the third.

Phillips (2-for-4) singled and scored on a misplayed grounder in the fourth, but the Dragons left two runners in scoring position. Marmolejo drilled a two-run homer to center in the fourth for a 17-5 advantage.

“I think they realize what’s at stake,” Stoughton said. “They’ve been hearing about Southwest. They have friends on Southwest’s team They know Southwest is a good team. They knew they had to keep scoring, and not let up.”

Cerda entered for the first time in the playoffs and notched all three outs in the inning, leaving two Rattlers runners on base. She had pitched just 1 2/3 innings this season.

Terrazas drew a leadoff walk for Southwest in the fifth. She reached third base on two passed balls.

Sophomore Miranda Gonzales hit a high pop fly to the circle which fell untouched for a single. Southwest loaded the bases on Amanda Sanchez’s swinging bunt.

Kristal Salinas hit a sacrifice fly that brought the Dragons within 17-6, but was their second out. Phillips was safe on error to slash San Marcos’ lead to 10.

Arguello hit a grounder to third base. Although the throw clearly pulled first baseman Vianey Villalpando off the base, but Arguello was ruled out and Sanchez’s run – which would have prevented the 10-run rule from taking effect – did not count.

“When you’re not hitting the ball, you need to make adjustments,” Hernandez said. “One thing for sure, these girls will come out fighting.”

It was only the second time in 10 playoff games that Southwest did not hit a home run. The other also was a loss, to Judson in the area round.

Southwest recovered to win their next two games and claim the series.

“You always have to use that,” Hernandez said, “but I don’t want them taking anything for granted. We’ll have to come ready to play. We’ll have to do what we know how to do.”

SOFTBALL: Southwest rides perfect storm of success to regional finals

Commentary

Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales has hit a team-best 11 home runs this season.
Southwest senior Kayla Arguello has contributed to the Dragons’ power-hitting attack.


Six years ago I moved to San Antonio from the Chicago area.

I’m glad I didn’t move here five years ago. I would have hated to miss a year of growth in Southwest’s program.

My arrival coincided with Southwest alumnae Sandy Hernandez taking the helm at her alma mater. Although the Dragons won a district title in her first season, it has been an intriguing progression to watch.

All things considered, it’s not surprising to see Southwest advance to the Region IV finals this spring – as one of eight high school teams still playing softball in Texas.

What distinguishes this team from previous Dragons squads that may have fashioned a better record at the district level or a slightly glossier overall won-loss mark?

The simple answer is its hitting, but the less obvious rationale explains it better.

This group, with five seniors who’ve accumulated 20 years on the varsity – including four-year starters Kamerie Vidales and Liz Phillips – has the experience to cover its errors and battle back from deficits. The teams from 2010 and 2011 may have been slightly more consistent, but they weren’t quite as finely honed in their ability to manufacture big innings that either seize control of the game early or once-and-for-all wrest control of it late.

Last Saturday in the Region IV semifinal, I had the good fortune to sit next to Texas A&M-Kingsville assistant softball coach Carter McBurnett at Vernie and Blanche Hubert Field, where the Javelinas play. He was impressed with Southwest’s ability to consistently produce quality at-bats.

Southwest annually has been one of the best hitting teams in the San Antonio metro area under Hernandez, but not every Dragons teams has been as adept at all aspects of the skill as the 2014 group.

It’s easy to focus on the longball. Southwest, after all, has hit home runs in eight of the nine postseason games it’s played this year. The Dragons lost their only homerless game to Judson, six-consecutive wins ago.

In the midst of the dramatics – like Phillips’ two-run shot last Friday or Gabby Flores’ 3-run homer last Saturday or Vidales’ two-homer outing that clinched the Judson series – don’t lose sight of those timely singles and doubles. They’re what have made the Dragons a consistent hitting machine – a constant that tends to wear down opponents over the course of a three-game series.

As Judson discovered, a pitcher can only hope to keep Southwest’s batters off balance for so long. Try to get to cute by working the corners, and you’ll find that the Dragons also are willing to take a base on balls.

Kristal Salinas and Phillips atop the batting order always seem to be on base. Kayla Arguello, Vidales, junior power hitter Caitlin Terrazas and Flores all can put the ball over the fence. But any of the nine batters an opposing pitcher will face is capable of driving in runs.

As the Dragons have shown when they’ve fallen behind or need an insurance run, Hernandez also has prepared them to aggressively run the bases and manufacture runs. Southwest can even resort to the bunt when the need arises, although it seems contrary to their mode of operation.

While there have been occasional defensive lapses during the season, Southwest is solid defensively – particularly up the middle with Flores at catcher, Salinas at shortstop, Yanira Fernandez at second base and Phillips in center field. Those rare lapses are easily erased by making plays, or turning double plays, where other teams might not.

And, yet again, there’s the propensity to come back and score runs in bulk and in clutch situations.

Pitching is generally considered the common denominator of outstanding softball teams.

Southwest had lockdown pitching from 2009 to 2011 with Mississippi Valley State University recruit Katrisha Arocha. Arocha could be counted on to hold opponents to two runs or fewer each game.

Terrazas and Vidales haven’t quite been in that category, but they’ve been effective enough to support an offense that’s averaged more than 10 runs a game in the postseason. Even better for the Dragons, both are equally effective as a starter and a closer, so Hernandez can ride the hot hand in the pitcher’s circle.

In regional semifinal opponent San Marcos, the Dragons will face a strong pitcher in Victoria Vasquez. Has limited opponents to three runs a game, while the Rattlers’ offense has averaged six runs an outing.

What distinguishes the Rattlers is the fact that they’re unbeaten in six postseason games. Four of their last five games have been decided by exactly one run.

Obviously, San Marcos is a mentally tough team. That’s hardly a shocker in the Elite Eight round.

It will be interesting to see how the Rattlers fare against a Southwest team that’s downright scary offensively and, as Hernandez says, simply refuses to lose. The team that proves itself to be more relentless likely will be the one that advances to the state tournament.

With a resume that includes three national youth-league championships, players who’ve won or shared four district titles (including this season, when District 28-5A was at its strongest) and the confidence that comes with playing its best softball at the right time, Southwest has to like its chances.

SOFTBALL: Road to the Region IV finals (Southwest vs. San Marcos)

Road to the Class 5A Region IV finals

Scores for each 2014 Southwest playoff game

Bi-district round

(Southwest won series 2-0)

Southwest 15, Brandeis 2 (5 innings)

Southwest 12, Brandeis 6

Area round

(Southwest won series 2-1)

Judson 8, Southwest 4

Southwest 14, Judson 4 (6 innings)

Southwest 14, Judson 7

Region IV quarterfinals

(Southwest won series 2-0)

Southwest 11, Steele 9

Southwest 6, Steele 3

Region IV semifinals

(Southwest won series 2-0)

Southwest 7, San Benito 2

Southwest 9, San Benito 6

Totals

Southwest 8-1 record

Southwest 92, opponents 47

 

Scores for each 2014 San Marcos playoff game

Bi-district round

(San Marcos won series 1-0)

San Marcos 14, Madison 4

Area round

(San Marcos won series 2-0)

San Marcos 5, East Central 4 (6 innings)

San Marcos 4, East Central 3

Region IV quarterfinals

(San Marcos won series 1-0)

San Marcos 9, Corpus Christi Carroll 3

Region IV semifinals

(San Marcos won series 2-0)

San Marcos 2, Eagle Pass 1

San Marcos 4, Eagle Pass 3

Totals

San Marcos 6-0 record

San Marcos 38, opponents 18

SOFTBALL: Southwest vs. San Benito regional semifinal photo gallery, May 17, 2014

Photos taken by KJ Toso. For more photos or to purchase photos, please visit: http://kjtoso.photoshelter.com

 

Region IV semifinal, Game 2 at Vernie and Blanche Hubert Field, University of Texas A&M-Kingsville

Southwest center fielder Liz Phillips and right fielder Faith Aguilar in their pre-inning ritual, before the seventh inning in Game 2.
Southwest center fielder Liz Phillips and right fielder Faith Aguilar in their pre-inning ritual, before the seventh inning in Game 2.
Dragons junior pitcher Caitilin Terrazas limited San Benito to one run over the last four innings.
Dragons junior pitcher Caitilin Terrazas limited San Benito to one run over the last four innings.

 

Teammates congratulate Gabby Flores after her three-run home run in the third inning.
Teammates congratulate Gabby Flores after her three-run home run in the third inning.
Dragons senior catcher Gabby Flores contributed an RBI single in the second inning.
Dragons senior catcher Gabby Flores contributed an RBI single in the second inning.
Liz Phillips delivers an RBI single to feed the Dragons' seven-run, third-inning rally.
Liz Phillips delivers an RBI single to feed the Dragons’ seven-run, third-inning rally.
Southwest junior Caitlin Terrazas delivers a pitch against San Benito.
Southwest junior Caitlin Terrazas delivers a pitch against San Benito.
Kristal Salinas, Faith Aguilar, Amanda Sanchez and Yanira Fernandez (from left to right) share their enthusiasm over a remarkable catch. Salinas backpedaled to the outfield grass to corral the ball, but it popped out of her glove. Sanchez caught the ball in the air for the key out in the sixth inning.
Kristal Salinas, Faith Aguilar, Amanda Sanchez and Yanira Fernandez (from left to right) share their enthusiasm over a remarkable catch. Salinas backpedaled to the outfield grass to corral the ball, but it popped out of her glove. Sanchez caught the ball in the air for the key out in the sixth inning.
Gabby Flores heads for third base on her way to home plate after hitting a three-run home run.
Gabby Flores heads for third base on her way to home plate after hitting a three-run home run.
Southwest senior center fielder Liz Phillips broke out of a hitting slump in Game 1 vs. San Benito with an RBI double and 2-run home run.
Southwest senior center fielder Liz Phillips broke out of a hitting slump in Game 1 vs. San Benito with an RBI double and 2-run home run.
Southwest senior catcher Gabby Flores rejoices over the Dragons' series sweep of San Benito.
Southwest senior catcher Gabby Flores rejoices over the Dragons’ series sweep of San Benito.

SOFTBALL: Area playoff schedule/results (thru May 24)

NOTE: teams we cover are in boldface

Games of May 18-24

Thursday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV championship

San Marcos (33-9) 17, Southwest (33-10) 7 (5 innings) (best-of-three series, San Marcos leads 1-0)

Friday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV championship

Southwest (34-10) 7, San Marcos (33-10) 3(best-of-three series, series tied 1-1)

Saturday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV championship

Southwest (35-10) 8, San Marcos (33-11) 7 (8 innings)(best-of-three series, Southwest wins 2-1; Dragons advance to the Class 5A state finals)

SOFTBALL: Southwest makes history with San Benito sweep

Dragons earn first Elite Eight berth

Photos taken by KJ Toso. For more photos or to purchase photos, please visit: http://kjtoso.photoshelter.com

Southwest senior catcher Gabby Flores rejoices over the Dragons' series sweep of San Benito.
Southwest senior catcher Gabby Flores rejoices over the Dragons’ series sweep of San Benito.
Kristal Salinas, Faith Aguilar, Amanda Sanchez and Yanira Fernandez (from left to right) share their enthusiasm over a remarkable catch. Salinas backpedaled to the outfield grass to corral the ball, but it popped out of her glove. Sanchez caught the ball in the air for the key out in the sixth inning.
Kristal Salinas, Faith Aguilar, Amanda Sanchez and Yanira Fernandez (from left to right) share their enthusiasm over a remarkable catch. Salinas backpedaled to the outfield grass to corral the ball, but it popped out of her glove. Sanchez caught the ball in the air for the key out in the sixth inning.
Dragons junior pitcher Caitilin Terrazas limited San Benito to one run over the last four innings.
Winning pitcher Caitlin Terrazas limited San Benito to one run over the last four innings.
Teammates congratulate Gabby Flores after her three-run home run in the third inning.
Teammates congratulate Gabby Flores after her three-run home run in the third inning.
Liz Phillips delivers an RBI single to feed the Dragons' seven-run, third-inning rally.
Liz Phillips delivers an RBI single to feed the Dragons’ seven-run, third-inning rally.

PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE SOUTHSIDE REPORTER WEBSITE:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/communities/southside/article/Southwest-sets-its-mind-to-winning-5490259.php


The deeper a team goes into the postseason, the more important the mental aspect of the game becomes.

Southwest (33-9) has mastered the process after six years of playoff appearances under coach Sandy Hernandez. The senior-laden Dragons demonstrated as much this weekend by winning a pressure-packed, best-of-three Class 5A regional semifinal series against San Benito (27-6) at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

After winning the series opener 7-2 Friday, the Dragons overcame a 5-1 deficit to post a 9-6 victory Saturday afternoon. The sweep made them the first Southwest team to advance to the Region IV finals and become one of the state’s final eight.

“That’s one thing I’ve worked on since 2009,” Hernandez said of improving her team’s mental toughness. “I’ve tried to study and figure out the mental part.

“It’s not that I did, but I think they finally figured it out.”

Many of the current Dragons played on Southwest Pony League’s three national championship teams during their early teen years.

“This is a different level,” Hernandez said. “They had success in their youth league, so they knew how to do it.. They just had to figure out how to do it in high school.”

Southwest advanced to play San Marcos (32-9) in the regional championship. The Rattlers swept their semifinal series against Eagle Pass with two one-run victories. Hernandez said series details would be determined Monday.

“They have a great pitcher,” Hernandez said. “We’ll have to figure that out.”

San Benito was the perfect semifinal foil for the Dragons for two reasons.

The Greyhounds, who were making their seventh Sweet 16 appearance, reached the destination in 2013 that Southwest is steering toward – the state finals. The other reason it was a compelling matchup was that San Benito eliminated the Dragons twice in previous years, including 2011 when the current seniors were freshmen.

“We wanted revenge,” said Southwest senior center fielder Liz Phillips, who broke out of a slump by hitting a game-clinching home run Friday.

“I’m glad we got it.”

As befitting the Greyhounds’ pedigree, San Benito didn’t make it easy.

Three walks and an RBI double from Dorothy Millan to the left-center field gap made it 2-0 before the Dragons came up to bat.

Southwest cut the deficit in half in its half of the first. Kristal Salinas (3-for-5, RBI) and Phillips (2-for-3, RBI) provided the spark with base hits. Senior third baseman Kayla Arguello loaded the bases on a catcher’s interference call.

Kamerie Vidales’ grounder brought in one Dragons run, but Southwest left two on base in the first and three more in the second.

Three Southwest errors combined with two more walks to help San Benito sculpt a 5-1 lead in the third inning.

Fortunately for the Dragons, the Greyhounds also were in a generous mood.

San Benito committed three errors in the bottom of the third as Southwest responded with a seven-run outburst. The rally included a game-changing, three-run home run from senior catcher Gabby Flores.

“When Gabby hit that home run,” Arguello said, “it gave everyone confidence, not just me.”

Flores’ blast meant that the Dragons had hit home runs in eight of its nine postseason games. Realistically, though, it carried much more significance. It was the assurance that the Dragons could vanquish San Benito – and wouldn’t need another game to accomplish it.

“One of our goals was to try to do it in two (games),” Hernandez said. “We couldn’t go three against that kind of quality team. It was great to see my team succeed..”

The Greyhounds hadn’t committed an error in the first two innings, after having an outbreak in Game 1. However, their second error of the inning gave Southwest its first lead of the afternoon.

Salinas’ go-ahead RBI single was misplayed for a two-base error. With the junior at third base, Phillips delivered an opposite-field single that put the Dragons ahead 7-5.

Arguello followed with a double that hit the base of the center-field fence, below 225-foot sign at Vernie and Blanche Hubert Field.

“Every time I go up to bat,” she said, “I’m really not hitting for myself. I’m trying to get my teammates an RBI so they can score.”

The blast increased Southwest’s lead to three runs and prompted San Benito’s 17th-year coach Elias Martinez to hand the ball to senior Amber Jasso, the winning pitcher in both 2011 games, in relief of starter Crystal Castillo. Jasso hadn’t pitched in about a month.

“I told the girls to be ready for Jasso,” the Southwest coach said. “As a coach, that was the right move. She did the job the first three or four innings against us, but we finally got one (run)..”

Southwest junior Caitlin Terrazas had already relieved Vidales. The two pitchers stemmed the tide of runs.

Terrazas allowed only a one-out home run to San Benito’s Melanie Gonzalez in the fifth. She pitched out of the inning, leaving three Greyhounds on base and squelching their best chance for a comeback victory.

In the sixth, she had help from an amazing catch that prevented a hit.

Backpedaling to the outfield grass on a pop fly, Salinas snared the ball, but it popped out of her glove. Fortunately for the Dragons, left fielder Amanda Sanchez – one of the heroes of Game 1 – backed up the play and caught the ball in the air, as in a football tip drill.

“We made some mistakes, and they took advantage,” Martinez said. “I’m proud of my girls because they kept battling. They left it all on the field.

“We went up against a great ballclub. Southwest made some mistakes, too. It’s two great teams going at it, and they came out on top.”

In its last at-bat, Southwest picked up a valuable insurance run.

“The difference was that we struggled offensively,” Martinez said, comparing this year’s series to the 2011 series. “Southwest’s offense is really tough – and we weren’t equal to it.”

With two outs in the sixth, Flores and Miranda Gonzales lined back-to-back base hits. Gonzales came through on full count to drive in the clinching run.

“We’ve all been together since we were very young,” Arguello said. “I think we’re different than any other team, because no one else ha s been together that long. I think we want it more. We want to get where we need to be.”

The mission Arguello referred to was getting to the state tournament, which may be two wins away.

“I think, now that we’ve proved who we are and what we can be,” Arguello said, “next year, when we’re not here, those girls will be able to do the exact same thing.”

One thing is for sure, they’ve seen the process in action.

Southwest carries a six-game winning streak into its best-of-three regional semifinal series against San Marcos. All three games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The first game will take place Thursday at the Northeast ISD softball complex. Game 2 is set for Friday at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1 at Burbank High School. If necessary, the third game will be played at St. Mary’s Unviersity’s new field.

SOFTBALL: Dragons stomp San Benito in series opener

 

Southwest one win from first Region IV final

Photos taken by KJ Toso. For more photos or to purchase photos, please visit: http://kjtoso.photoshelter.com

Southwest senior center fielder Liz Phillips broke out of a hitting slump in Game 1 vs. San Benito with an RBI double and 2-run home run.
Southwest senior center fielder Liz Phillips broke out of a hitting slump in Game 1 vs. San Benito with an RBI double and 2-run home run.

 

Dragons senior catcher Gabby Flores contributed an RBI single in the second inning.
Dragons senior catcher Gabby Flores contributed an RBI single in the second inning.

PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE SOUTHSIDE REPORTER:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/communities/southside/article/Southwest-sets-its-mind-to-winning-5490259.php

 

In its fifth try, Southwest discovered the right mix of ingredients to defeat perennial Rio Grande Valley power San Benito Friday at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

The Dragons (32-9) smashed the Greyhounds (27-5) 7-2 in Game 1 of the Region IV semifinal series with help from senior center fielder Liz Phillips. The fourth-year starter – known as a gap hitter – packed the punch with an RBI double for Southwest’s first run and a two-run home run in the seventh that essentially clinched the win.

Although Phillips had been doing her job as a No. 2 hitter in Southwest’s order by drawing walks and moving runners up, her extra-base power had been on vacation since she hit her first home run of the season in the bi-district series against Brandeis.

“I think I’m finally coming out of the slump. It was definitely good,” Phillips said.  “The good thing about hitting int he second spot, Kristal (Salinas) and I were able to get them going. We were able to open it up for the team. It helps to make it easier when we get some momentum going between us.”

If Southwest wins one of two scheduled games Saturday at TAMUK, it will advance to the regional semifinals and play San Marcos (32-9). The Rattlers, who eliminated East Central in the area round, edged Eagle Pass 2-1 Thursday and 4-3 Friday to sweep the other Region IV semifinal series.

The Dragons will play San Benito in Game 2 at 2 p.m. If necessary, Game 3 will take place 30 minutes after that game is completed.

San Benito swept postseason series against Southwest in 2010, in the area round, and 2011, in the regional semifinals. The Greyhounds never led Friday.

Salinas, a junior shortstop, started the game with a base hit and scored on Phillips’ double for a 1-0 lead. San Benito, which reached the state finals in 2013, tied it in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI double from Dorothy Millan.

The Dragons seized control in the second inning, when senior Gabby Flores hit an RBI single and scores on a bases-loaded walk. Southwest took a 4-1 lead into the fourth, adding a run on a sacrifice fly.

San Benito closed within two runs in the bottom of the sixth when Amber Jasso – who pitched the Greyhounds to two wins over Southwest in 2011 – drove a leadoff double and scored on Clarissa Huerta’s single.

The Greyhounds had runners at the corners, but Southwest second baseman Yanira Fernandez fielded a grounder, tagged the San Benito runner as she passed and threw to Caitlin Terrazas at first base for an inning-ending double play.

Southwest unloaded on Greyhounds ace pitcher Crystal Castillo in the seventh inning.

Senior Amanda Sanchez sparked the rally with a leadoff triple to left field. Salinas drove in Sanchez with a grounder to first base that was misplayed for an error.

With the Dragons ahead 5-2, Phillips worked the count to 3-2 and launched a drive over the fence in straightaway left field. Terrazas hit a two-out shot to the warning track in left-center, but it was just short of being a second Southwest home run in the inning.

“My coach (Sandy Hernandez) gave me a bunt sign,” Phillips said,  “but I didn’t lay down a bunt. I ended up taking a strike inside. Then she gave me a pitch down the middle, and I took it out.”

It didn’t matter. The damage had been done.

Although the Greyhounds drew two walks in the final half-inning, Southwest senior pitcher Kamerie Vidales escaped the jam without any damage.

It was Vidales’ third-straight postseason victory and the fifth in a row for the Dragons. Southwest has hit at least one home run in seven of its eight playoff games.

SOFTBALL: Area playoff schedule/results (complete)

NOTE: teams we cover are in boldface

Games of May 11-17

Friday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV semifinals

Southwest (32-9) 7, San Benito (27-5) 2 (best-of-3 series, Southwest leads 1-0)

 

Saturday’s games

CLASS 5A

Region IV semifinals

Southwest (33-9) 9, San Benito (27-6) 6 (best-of-3 series, Southwest wins 2-0; advances to play San Marcos in Region IV finals)

 

Games of May 18-24

Thursday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV championship

Southwest (33-9) vs. San Marcos (32-9) at Northeast ISD Complex east field, 7:30 p.m.

Friday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV championship

Southwest (33-9) vs. San Marcos (32-9) at Villarreal Field No. 1, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV championship

Southwest (33-9) vs. San Marcos (32-9) at St. Mary’s University, 7:30 p.m.

SOFTBALL: St. Joseph maintains its hold on Holy Cross

Knights reach TAPPS state quarters for second year

 

Knights pitcher Julia Ibarra will graduate after four years as a starter.
Knights pitcher Julia Ibarra will graduate after four years as a starter.
Holy Cross junior shortstop Marisol Ortega will lead a host of Knights' returnees.
Holy Cross junior shortstop Marisol Ortega will lead a host of Knights’ returnees.

PLEASE RETURN TO THIS STORY TUESDAY FOR A LINK TO THE SOUTHSIDE REPORTER WEBSITE:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/communities/southside/article/Victoria-St-Joseph-stymies-Holy-Cross-5471862.php

 

Victoria St. Joseph remains Holy Cross’ nemesis, for another year.

The Flyers (24-11) claimed a 10-5 win over the Knights in the TAPPS Class 4A state semifinals Monday at Texas A&M University in College Station. It was the TAPPS 3-4A champion’s second win this year over Holy Cross (26-11-1), including a 4-3 decision March 29 in district play..

“We hit the ball well,” Knights coach Angel Cedillo said. “We actually outhit them 10-9, but they had people on base, and we didn’t. They’re a good team.

“If we keep building, one of these days, we’ll find a way to catch up.”

St. Joseph was eliminated in the state semifinals with a 10-0 loss to Fort Bend Christian.Friday.

The Flyers were in control throughout the semifinal, after scoring three runs in the first inning. Mariah Clay clouted a two-home run for St. Joseph.

“They hit a double to start the game,” Cedillo said, “then their leadoff hitter hit a home run. We had some issues. We couldn’t put the ball over the plate.

“We had to squeeze them, pitch them away and feed them change-ups. When you’re trying to do that, sometimes you get behind in the count and come down the middle. They put the bat on the ball and got timely hits. We didn’t make a lot of errors. It was all walks and timely hits.”

Holy Cross, the No. 3 seed from 3-4A, closed within 3-1 in the second inning. St. Joseph responded with a six-run fourth. Knights senior pitcher Julia Ibarra only allowed one run thereafter.

“They never quit all season,” Cedillo said. “We always played tough.”

The Knights made the final margin more respectable with two runs in each of the final two innings.

“We started the seventh with four base hits in a row,” Cedillo said. “We had our No. 4 batter (Kat Rangel) up and she hit a shot in the gap. Their girl made a good catch, or it would have been 10-8 if that ball got through.

“It wasn’t meant to be.”

Holy Cross qualified for the state quarterfinals for the second-consecutive year. The Knights never had advanced as far before 2011.

This season’s highlights also included wins over TAPPS Class 5A teams Antonian and Incarnate Word. Antonian lost 10-4 to Dallas Bishop Lynch Saturday in the 5A championship game. Lynch defeated Incarnate Word 16-6 Friday in the semifinals.

“The girls had a great year,” Cedillo said. “We had never beaten both in the same year. It’s all about peaking at the right time (in the playoffs). We’ll build on this and keep getting better.

“Our girls can look back and say they beat two really good teams in Antonian and Incarnate Word. The girls who are coming back and the ones that graduate can feel like they’ve really accomplished something. They have nothing to feel bad about. We just got beat by a better team that day.

“I look forward to next year.”

The Knights only will lose two seniors to graduation, starting right fielder Jenevieve Cruz and Ibarra, who fashioned a 21-8 pitching record this year. Replacing the four-year starting pitcher, who shared duties with 2013 graduate Marisa Hernandez the first three seasons, will be difficult.

Junior Marisol Ortega (.590 batting average, 27 stolen bases) was the Knights’ No. 2 pitcher this season, but she’s also an outstanding leadoff hitter and defensive shortstop.

“We’re going to have to outscore teams until we figure out who’s going to (pitch),” Cedillo said. “We’ll pitch by committee and find out who steps up. We’ve got the pieces in place. It’s a matter of molding them into a team.”

Even with virtually an entire roster of prospective returnees – including seven players with batting averages above .400 – Cedillo expects some new additions.

“We’ve got some solid ones coming up,” he said. “There are kids who should help in middle school and our freshmen were really good soldiers. We’ve got to replace a pitcher with longevity and leadership. It’s a challenge. That’s why we start anew every year.”

SOFTBALL: Dragons sweep Steele, make second trip to regional semis

 

Southwest’s PONY champs reach semis for for first time since 2011

Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales was the winning pitcher in both games against Steele.
Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales was the winning pitcher in both games against Steele.
Southwest shortstop Krystal Salinas supplied a go-ahead double in the second inning of Game 2.
Southwest shortstop Kristal Salinas supplied a go-ahead double in the second inning of Game 2.

PLEASE RETURN TO THIS STORY TUESDAY FOR A LINK TO THE SOUTHSIDE REPORTER WEBSITE:

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A delay of nearly two hours, fallout from afternoon storms Friday, gave Southwest plenty of time to overthink its good fortune — and endanger its status.

Fortunately for the Dragons, they were aware of the potential pitfalls associated with getting an early lead in a best-of-three series. They had been in Steele’s situation in the previous round.

“You just try to stay focused,” Southwest junior shortstop Kristal Salinas said. “Judson kind of relaxed in the second game, and we came back and had a big inning. We got them. You’ve got to keep that in mind all game long.”

Salinas drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning to add fuel to a rally that gave the Dragons (31-9) a three-run cushion, exactly as the Knights (19-14) had done Thursday. Southwest never lost its lead and completed a sweep of their District 28-5A rival with a 6-3 victory in the Class 5A Region IV quarterfinal series.

“We take losing really hard,” said Southwest senior pitcher Kamerie Vidales, who authored the complete-game win. “It’s almost more than we enjoy winning. As of right now, we’re going to stick together, no matter what – win or lose.”

The Dragons advance to play San Benito (27-4), which downed Los Fresnos 7-0 Friday in a one-game quarterfinal playoff. Interestingly, Southwest met San Benito in a regional-semfinal series in 2011, when Vidales and her classmates were freshmen. It was the only previous time that Southwest qualfied for the semifinals.

The Greyhounds swept postseason series against Southwest in 2010 and 2011. In their last meeting, then-freshman pitcher Amber Jasso limited the Dragons to two runs.

It has been a long, hard climb for Southwest to get back to that point, despite remaining one of the San Antonio area’s best programs.

“This team has been together a long time,” Salinas said. “We won three national championships in the PONY league, but we kept running into obstacles in the playoffs in high school. We weren’t able to get past the second round.

”It’s amazing.”

The Dragons scored fewer than 10 runs for just the second time in seven postseason games this year. Vidales kept Steele scoreless over the last five innings.

“Ever since we lost to South San (March 13),” sixth-year Southwest coach Sandy Hernandez said, “we’ve learned that we have to score as many runs as we can. We took control on the mound. That was the difference in this game.”

Southwest scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, after Salinas notched a leadoff single.

Two runs scored on throwing error on Kayla Arguello’s grounder. Vidales made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly

“It wasn’t as much stress,” Salinas said. “They started off 3-0 (Thursday). But you can’t let your guard down. You’ve got to keep going.

“There was not one point where we didn’t. They’re a good team. Everybody is in the playoffs.”

The Knights tied it in the second inning.

Steele’s first run scored on a bases-loaded walk to freshman Savanna Bonola. Amanda Thacker brought in the Knights’ last two runs with a single to left-center. Steele left two runners on base.

Vidales also stranded a runner at third in the fourth inning and left the bases loaded in the fifth after Mersadi Garcia wedged a two-out single through the infield.

“Kam stepped up,” Hernandez said. “She did a great job of getting out of that bases-loaded situation. She was just big. I knew I could count on her to come to play.”

Southwest took the lead in the bottom of the second on doubles from Miranda Gonzales and Salinas (2-for-4, RBI).

Vidales led off the third with a single to center field. With one out, Caitlin Terrazas drove a home run over the left-field fence. It was her ninth home run of the season, but just the second of the series for the Dragons, who hit three in the decisive game of their area-round set against Judson.

The Knights manufactured one last potential threat, but an outstanding defensive play helped Vidales escape without giving up a run.

Alexis Walkden led off the sixth with a base hit down the left-field line. Thacker (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) sent a double to the center-field fence. Steele had two runners in scoring position with no outs, and Walkden made a break for the plate.

A relay throw from Southwest senior center fielder Liz Phillips to Salinas to senior catcher Gabby Flores prevented the run. Vidales retired the last four Knights batters in order.

“I know, in yesterday’s game, we didn’t show what we could do until the end,” Vidales said. “I tried to stay focused the whole game. You never know what can happen at the end.”

It would be easy to characterize Southwest-San Benito as power hitters versus slap hitters, but the Dragons coach indicated that would be an oversimplification.

“Elias Martinez is still coaching them and they’ve still got Amber Jasso,” Hernandez said, “but she isn’t pitching this year.

“They’ve still got some good bunters, but they have some good hitters, too. They can do it all. We have to be ready for anything.”

The regional semifinal series will be played entirely at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. The first game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. If necessary, two games will take place on Saturday. Game 2 is set for 2 p.m. The third game would take place 30 minutes after its completion, if it’s required to determine a winner.

The Greyhounds were tied for 10th in the most recent Texas Girls Coaches association state poll. Southwest was unranked.

Vidales remembers the 2011 series against San Benito, although it isn’t a fond memory.

“It was a hard series,” the senior said. “We kind of fell apart. We came at them with what we had, but we came up short.”

Mental toughness has been Southwest’s calling card this season.

 

SOFTBALL: Fernandez steps forward to salvage Game 1 for Southwest

 

Junior drives in three during decisive seventh-inning rally

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This year’s Southwest team may not be as dominant as some of its predecessors, but it may have an intangible on its side that’s capable of propelling the Dragons as far.

That hard to define trait manifests itself as an ability to manufacture of inspriation when their backs are against the wall. The Dragons (30-9) did it again in their Region IV quarterfinal series opener Thursday at the Northeast ISD complex’s east field, scoring seven runs in the top of the seventh to turn a deficit into an 11-9 victory over District 28-5A Steele (19-13).

Junior second baseman Yanira Fernandez provided the spark three times in a span of about half an hour. The first was a diving stop that prevented a Knights run in the bottom of the sixth, which helped senior pitcher Kamerie Vidales escape a bases-loaded jam. She batted twice in the seventh, belting a home run and driving in the two runs that signified the margin of victory.

“It was a little bit difficult,” Fernandez said, of her defensive play with the Knights leading 5-4. “I just focused on getting the runner out.”

Game 2 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tonight at the SAISD Mary Ann Villarreal Complex on Field No. 1. A win would put the Dragons in the regional semifinals for the first time since 2011 and second time in school history. A third game would take place 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Northside ISD Field No. 2, if necessary.

The series winner will play the Los Fresnos-San Benito winner. Those teams meet in a one-game playoff at 7 p.m. tonight at San Benito. The Dragons have played San Benito twice in the postseason during Southwest coach Sandy Hernandez’s six years at the helm.

Fernandez (3-for-5, 3 RBIs) hits fifth in the Southwest order between power hitters Vidales (11 home runs) and Caitlin Terrazas (8 home runs). The junior is more of a gap hitter, but she got a little extra on her tying drive to left-center for her first home run since April 17.

The date is significant, because it accounted for the Dragons’ run in a 4-1 district-finale loss to Steele.

“When one of us hits, it’s like starting a train,” Fernandez said. “It starts a train reaction. It’s good that we have a team that can do something like that”

Her fourth home run of the season was followed by a pair of outs, which delayed the reaction. The Dragons got new life when Miranda Gonzales drew a walk and Amanda Sanchez was safe on a dropped popup.

The next five Southwest batters recorded hits.

“They refuse to lose,” Hernandez said of her team. “We go 16 deep. I knew if I one could get a hit, the next one could go in there and get a hit.”

Junior Kristal Salinas (2-for-4, RBI) drove a two-run single to left and ran aggressively on senior Liz Phillips’ double to left-center field. Kayla Arguello added a single that increased Southwest’s lead to 9-5.

An opposite-field double from Vidales meant that six-consecutive batters had reached base. Fernandez drove in the Dragons’ last two runs with a single to right.

“That was the only thing stuck in my mind,” Fernandez said. “I needed to get the team two more runs.”

Hernandez wasn’t surprised by Fernandez’s heroics, although she is known more for quiet contributions. She threw out a runner at the plate for Steele’s second out in the sixth after stopping a would-be base hit from No. 3 hitter Alexis Walkden.

“The biggest thing is that YaYa never really plays scared,” she said. “She made the pick up and made the play. Then she came back and made two shots. She drove that one over the fence and then that single.

“She’s a silent killer.”

Steele, which had led 5-3 in the bottom of the third, wasn’t done scoring.

The first three Knights batters reached base ahead of an infield fly. The batter was out, but runners could advance at their own risk. Two scored, cutting the Dragons’ lead to four.

No. 9 hitter Jenelle Pence and freshman Savanna Bonola produced back-to-back RBI singles before Vidales was able to record the last two outs.

Steele drew five walks and used a sacrifice fly to score three runs and chase Terrazas from the pitcher’s circle in the first. Runs were scored on a bases-loaded walk to Miranda Holguin, a sacrifice fly from Knights pitcher Jennifer Hittinger and a passed ball.

The Dragons closed to 3-2 in the second when two runs scored when Sanchez’s ground out was misplayed. Southwest tied it on a third-inning throwing error as Steele attempted to turn a double play.

A sacrifice fly from Holguin and an error brought Steele a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the inning.

Southwest answered in the fifth, when Vidales (3-for-5, RBI) drove a run-scoring single.

“I we they were going to have a big inning,” Hernandez said, “though I’d like it to be in the first five or so. But I knew eventually we’d come together and get it done.”

SOFTBALL: Dragons hitters solve Rockets’ pitching

Judson can’t contain Southwest’s offense in area round

 

Fourth-year starter Kamerie Vidales hit two home runs in decisive Game 3 against Judson.
Fourth-year starter Kamerie Vidales hit two home runs in decisive Game 3 against Judson.
Caitlin Terrazas lifted Southwest past the Rockets with her pitching and hitting.
Caitlin Terrazas lifted Southwest past the Rockets with her pitching and hitting.

 

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Like an iceberg, there’s much more to Southwest’s potent hitting attack than the part you see at the surface.

The impetus behind the Dragons’ run-scoring machine is a combination of hard work and determination. Factor in the experience that comes with seven fourth-year varsity players, and it’s easy to understand how Southwest (29-9) is capable of burying opponents.
The Dragons, No. 4 in the final Express-News area rankings, did just that to No. 2 Judson (28-8) over the last two contests in their three-game
Class 5A area-round series. The Rockets won the opener 8-4 last Thursday. Southwest showed its resiliance with a 14-4 win on Friday and a 14-7 decision on Saturday.

“Our team is made up of nothing but hitters,” said Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales, who popped a solo home run and a three-run shot in the series finale. “Hitting is our team right now.”

Judson got the crucial hits in the series opener, including an RBI single from Brenda Iparraguirre (3-for-4, 4 RBIs) in the three-run fourth inning and her two-run single in the sixth. Southwest led 2-1 in the second when senior Amanda Sanchez’s two-out single was misplayed for two errors. The Rockets’ tied it on Nicole Shedd’s RBI double and kept the hits coming at the Northeast ISD Complex east field.

“I’ve worked very hard on (my change-up),” Judson pitcher Michelle Iparraguirre said. “That was very important to our game plan, which was to keep them off-balance.”

A double to the right-field fence from senior Kayla Arguello (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) drove in Liz Phillips in the fifth brought the Dragons within 6-3. Arguello also supplied an RBI single in the seventh.

“(Iparraguire) mixed the curve in and kept us off-balancee,” Southwest coach Sandy Hernandez said. “She held us to five hits. That’s got to be the fewest this year.

“We’ll have to break down it down to see what we can do to hit her better.”

Southwest responded with a 10-run, second-inning bonanza after the Rockets grabbed a 3-0 lead in Game 2 at Villarreal Field No. 1. Winning pitcher Caitlin Terrazas hit the Dragons’ only home run among their 13 hits over six innings.

“I feel like we’re more of a team,” Vidales said, comparing this year’s Dragons to recent seasons. “We’re not a one-person show. From freshman year to now, we’ve built relationships that can’t be broken.”

Judson forged a 3-0 lead over the first three innings in Game 3 behind a home run from Caitlin Mora and an RBI single from Brenda Iparraguirre. The Dragons’ comeback also was built around the long ball.

“I couldn’t ask anything more as a coach,” Hernandez said. “All 16 of them stepped up a little bit. In the dugout, everybody was together. When we come together, we’re tough to beat.”

Senior Kristal Salinas provided an RBI single in the bottom of the third. Vidales’ first home run cut the deficit to a run.

“Honestly, I didn’t go up trying to hit a home run,” Vidales said. “I was trying to bring runs in. She kind of threw it over the middle, and I took it out.”

Singles by Yanira Fernandez and Miranda Gonzales helped Southwest gain a 4-3 lead after four innings at Northside ISD Field No. 1. Vidales’ second home run, and 11th of the season, made it 7-4. The Dragons’ lead grew by two more runs with help from a Fernandez double.

The Rockets closed to 9-7 in their half of the sixth on a three-run homer from Shedd. That merely set the stage for Terrazas’ game-clinching grand slam.

“It was a great feeling,” Terrazas said. “It didn’t matter what the score was. In the box, I knew what I was looking for. I just stuck to the plan.

“It felt just awesome. I was just looking for something to drive. I guess (Iparraguire) missed her spot.”

Arguello lined a leadoff single and Vidales, who had homered in two previous plate appearances, was issued an intentional walk. The bases were loaded after Fernandez singled to center field.

“Getting those extra insurance runs really helped,” Terrazas said. “I always pitch well when I have some cushion. It’s always a contagious feeling when we’re hitting and scoring.”

Southwest kept pouring it on.

A walk to Gabby Flores and singles from Sanchez and Kristal Salinas re-loaded the bases. Phillips worked a base on balls for an RBI and a 14-7 lead.

Terrazas retired the first two Rockets batters in the seventh. Following a single from Alexis Eleman, the junior induced a ground out to end the series.

“I would have to say (it’s) our work ethic,” Terrazas said, explaining the Dragons’ offensive success. “We spend a lot of time on hitting.

“We know, at this point in the playoffs, there’s pressure, but we know we’ve got to do this. We don’t have

many distractions because we love to do this. That’s what makes us so strong at the plate.”

The Dragons reached the Region IV quarterfinals for the first time since 2011, when they advanced to the semifinals.

Southwest will play District 28-5A rival Steele (19-12) in the best-of-three series, which begins Thursday with a game at the NEISD east field. Friday’s game is at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1. The series will shift to Northside ISD Field No. 2 for Game 3 Saturday, if necessary.

“We definitely respect everyone we go against,” Terrazas said. “We can’t let our guards down. We have to keep our team grounded.

“Our team has come together well. We just have to play our best. It’s a matter of executing and contributing.”

Southwest was the district champion with an 8-2 record. Rapidly improving Steele (4-6 in district) was the No. 4 seed.

“I always knew they were good,” Hernandez said. “They’ve got (Jennifer) Hittinger on the mound and (Alexis) Walkden) is a great player. We respect every team equally and prepare for every team equally.”

 

SOFTBALL: San Marcos slips past East Central in 2 nail-biters

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East Central didn’t go down without a fight.

In fact, the Hornets (24-8) succumbed to San Marcos (29-9) in a best-of-three Class 5A area-round series last weekend by the slimmest of margins. The Rattlers prevailed 5-4 Thursday at East Central and 4-3 Friday at San Marcos.

San Marcos, which claimed its first area championship since 1999, took the early lead in both games and only briefly relinquished it.

The Rattlers scored four runs in the first inning of Game 1. They had a 5-0 lead midway through the fourth inning, when East Central began its comeback with a run in the bottom of the inning.

The Hornets scored twice in the sixth and turned an inning-ending double play in the Rattlers’ half of the inning to take momentum into the final frame. East Central trailed 5-3 going into the seventh.

East Central scored a run in the bottom of the seventh before San Marcos pitcher Victoria Vasquez induced a pair of fly outs. Junior Madison Strunk was pitcher of record for the Hornets. San Marcos finished with 12 hits to East Central’s eight.

Game 2 unfolded differently. Although San Marcos again scored first on a home run from Stephanie Marmelejo, East Central gained the upper hand with two runs in the second inning.

San Marcos tied it in the third, when Mariah Delgado scored on a wild pitch, and gained a 4-2 lead in the fourth with help from East Central errors. The Hornets scored the game’s last run in the fifth.

BASEBALL PLAYOFF WEEKLY REPORT: Harlandale makes solid showing vs. No. 3 Calallen

Brandeis shuts down Southwest

 

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TEAMS INCLUDED: Brackenridge, Burbank, Central Catholic, Harlandale, Highlands, South San, Southwest.

Burbank competed against Hays for the second-consecutive year. Arturo Martinez is pictured.
Burbank competed against Hays for the second-consecutive year. Arturo Martinez is pictured.
South San squared off against O'Connor in the bi-district round. Junior Frank Bosmans dives back to the bag in a previous game.
South San squared off against O’Connor in the bi-district round. Junior Frank Bosmans dives back to the bag in a previous game.
Highlands fell to Seguin in a single-game, bi-district playoff. First baseman Gilbert Gomez executes a stretch in a previous game.
Highlands fell to Seguin in a single-game, bi-district playoff. First baseman Gilbert Gomez executes a stretch in a previous game.

Young Harlandale gave a hint of what its bright future might entail as it battled Corpus Christi Calallen, No. 3 in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association poll, in a best-of-three series.

The Indians (12-14) battled the Wildcats (31-3) to a scoreless tie for the first 6 ½ innings in Game 2 before Calallen seized a walk-off win on Nathan Rabe’s hit in the bottom of the seventh. Calallen prevailed 1-0 Friday in Corpus Christi to sweep the series.

Harlandale also fell 14-3 Thursday at the Frank Tejeda Complex, but the final score was deceptive. The Indians trailed 3-1 after five innings against Wildcats ace lefty Dylan Duarte (8-0). Calallen scored three runs in the sixth and eight in the seventh, including a two-run double by Rabe and a pinch-hit, inside-the-park home run, by Reece Barrett that accounted for the Wildcats’ last three runs.

In Game 2, Harlandale left two runners on base in the fifth inning. Indians sophomore pitcher Richard Acosta limited Calallen to five hits. Ramzey Martinez and Smith had singles for Harlandale’s only hits against Wildcats pitcher Kyle Hill.

Hill struck out 12.

Harlandale senior left-hander Zachary Perez (10-4) limited Calallen to one run in the first three innings of the series opener.

Hunter Orozco was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs. Timothy Smith contributed an RBI. Perez also had one of Harlandale’s three hits. The Indians drew five walks.

Duarte struck out 11.

Brandeis 3-8, Southwest 1-0

The Broncos (16-12) won in a narrow escape in Game 1 Thursday at Southwest (12-12-1), then routed the Dragons Friday at Northside Field No. 2.

Brandeis took the lead with two runs in the third inning of Game 1. The Dragons slashed the lead in half in the bottom of the fifth. Cerda walked and Daniel Garcia hit a single to left field. After a force out at the plate, Garcia stole home on a walk to Ricky Fernandez.

The Broncos added an insurance run in the top of the seventh by stealing home.

Southwest pitcher Joseph Cerda scattered nine hits. Sophomore Juan Carlos Hernandez went 2-for-3 for the Dragons. Brandeis’ Tyler Lester limited the Dragons to three hits while striking out seven.

In Game 2, Brandeis scored all eight of its runs in the first two innings, with help from three doubles.

Eli Pacheco and Hernandez both were 2-for-3 for Southwest. The Broncos outhit the Dragons 9-6.

Clemens 6-12, Brackenridge 2-0

The Buffaloes (19-9) relied on a sacrifice fly from Eric Rabinowitz and a two-run home run from Dustin Boatman to lift them to victory against Brackenridge (14-10) in Game 1 at Clemens.

Brackenridge junior Brayan Guerrero drew a walk in the first inning and took third on an errant pickoff throw. Tristen Cortinas then collected the RBI with a single for a 1-0 Eagles lead.

Clemens went ahead 2-1 on consecutive doubles from winning pitcher Tyler Giovanoni, Derek Frey and Boatman in the bottom of the inning.

Brack scored in the third when Guerrero drew a walk, advanced on Jongregory Gonzales’ sacrifice bunt and

scored on Mario Roldan’s single. The Eagles were within 3-2.

Giovanoni limited the Eagles to three hits and one earned run while striking out eight in the opener.

In Game 2 at SAISD No. 1, Clemens took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning. The Buffaloes scored four runs in that inning and six in the sixth to invoke the 10-run rule.

Brackenridge received singles from Guerrero and senior Alex Hammerli as well as a walk to Robert Gonzalez against Clemens pitcher J.J. Elkins.

For the Eagles, Robert Rangel pitched the first five innings, allowing just two earned runs. Roldan gave up no earned runs.

Hays 8-7, Burbank 0-3

Burbank (8-18-1) gave the District 27-4A champion Rebels (25-4) a challenge in the second game of the best-of-three Class 4A bi-district series Friday at Hays, but couldn’t avoid a sweep.

The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in Game 2 when Jonathan Alanis walked, advanced on J Gonzales’ base hit and scored on the back end of a double steal.

Hays used a three-run triple for Justin Montana to forge a five-run rally in the third. The Bulldogs closed to 5-2 in the fourth when Arturo Martinez singled and came home on Tristan Settles’ fielder’s choice.

The Rebels added two more runs in the fifth to effectively put the game out of Burbank’s reach, as it enabled Hays to bring in closer Trey Dickerson for the last two innings.

Burbank scored its last 2014 run in the sixth. Martinez, Luke and Warren walked. Alanis (2-for-2, RBI) loaded the bases with a single. Martinez tagged and scored on a foul popup.

Jonathan Martinez and Alanis contributed doubles for the Bulldogs.

In Game 1, Rebels pitcher Tyler Woodmansee, a Texas A&M signee, pitched a no-hitter Thursday at SAISD Field No. 1. Woodmansee struck out eight while walking none.

Hays scored four runs in the first inning, one in the third and three in the fourth. The Rebels mustered 13 hits and 12 were singles.

O’Connor 11-4, South San 0-0

Jose Rodriguez two-run home run in the fifth inning and a solo shoto in the seventh to carry the Panthers (30-1), No. 1 in the THSBCA Class 5A poll, to a Game 2 victory over South San (14-15) Friday at Burrows-Gustafson Stadium. O’Connor also won Thursday at Northside ISD Field No. 2, as it swept the Class 5A bi-district series.

John Gamez kept the Panthers scoreless the first three innings of Game 2. South San’s Nick Herrera hit a double in the second inning, but was stranded at third base. Gamez had a two-out double in the third, but the Bobcats weren’t able to advance him.

O’Connor pitcher Kolby Lunsford held the Bobcats to two hits. Gamez struck out five and scattered eight hits. Lunsford also struck out five.

In Game 1, the Panthers scored l of their runs in the first four innings. The game ended in the fifth because of the 10-run rule. Gamez had South San’s only hit against O’Connor pitcher Tommy Wilson.

Houston St. Pius X 9, Central Catholic 1

Houston St. Pius X senior pitcher Jerry Murillo limited Central Catholic (16-13) to three hits as the Panthers (18-14) won the TAPPS Class 5A area-round game Monday at Weimar.

Murillo pitched a complete game, striking out 11 in seven innings.

The Panthers scored three runs in the first inning, aided by a two-run single from Murillo. They added two runs in each of the next two innings for a 7-0 advantage. Each of St. Pius X’s first seven hits was a single.

For Central Catholic, Chris Olvera led off the sixth with a line-drive double and scored on an error with Zack Arambula at the plate.

Seguin 11, Highlands 0

The Matadors (22-4-1) defeated the Owls (10-14) in a single-game Class 4A bi-district playoff Friday at Smokey Joe Williams Field in Seguin.

Seguin scored all of its runs in two innings as Bubba Miculka and Andrew Kuehne combined on a three-hit shutout. Miculka struck out five in four innings.

The Matadors erupted for eight runs in the second inning behind a two-run single from Trevor Kilcrease and produced three more in the fourth to end the game via the 10-run rule.

Highlands loaded the bases with no outs twice, but was not able to manufacture a run.

In the third, senior Gustavo Castro was safe on an infield single and Bryan Aguilar added a base hit ahead of a walk to Joshua Ortega. The same trio all drew walks in the fifth.

Freshman John Cruz had a two-out double in the second inning.

Travis York had a double and three RBIs for the Matadors.

 

BASEBALL: McCollum can’t quite get over the hump vs. G-P

Cowboys lose close one in Game 1, but Wildcats romp in Game 2

 

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McCollum was able to break up Gregory-Portland’s no-hit bid Friday at the Frank Tejeda Complex, but couldn’t break the Wildcats in the best-of-three Class 4A bi-district series.

In a gem of an opening game, G-P side-armer Tristan Busse and Cowboys senior Jesse Medina dueled through seven scoreless innings. In two plays in the top of the eighth, however, the Wildcats found a way to claim a 2-0 victory.

“That’s baseball,” first-year McCollum coach Hector Delgadillo said. “A couple of things didn’t go our way and a couple of things went there way. They got hits when they needed to and those guys can run. They took advantage.”

Saturday at Gregory-Portland, the host team stormed to a 10-0 win and swept the series. All eight area playoff qualifiers were eliminated last week.

“Those guys are tough,” Gregory-Portland coach Fred Flores said of the Cowboys. “I tip my hat to coach Delgadillo. He’s a guy that definitely has control of his team. He’s calm and in control, a lot like coach (Jesse) Garza last year.

“They gave us all we could handle.”

In Game 1, Busse took a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh. His ball movement resulted in few hard hit balls, and two of those from Ralph Ramirez ended as fly outs. Busse struck out 10.

“He’s one of those sinker-slider guys,” Flores said. “The ball never hit the same spot in the strike zone twice.”

Neither team advanced a runner past second base until the seventh inning. Through three innings against left-hander Medina, Gregory-Portland’s Sage Hamon had the game’s only hit.

Cowboys senior Dominick Ortiz was safe on an error, leading off the fourth inning, as was Hector Arevalo in the sixth. McCollum left three runners on base through six, compared to two for the Wildcats.

In the McCollum seventh, Medina was the man who recorded the Cowboys’ first hit, a single to left field with one out. His courtesy runner, Chris Herrera, stole second base and slid under the tag at third on Rene Martinez’s deep fly out. However, another fly out sent the game into extra innings.

“We had our chances,” Delgadillo said. “The guys didn’t do the little things, like get bunts down or drive in runs with two outs. You have to get hits with runners on base to win these games. We didn’t come through.”

Medina scattered five hits through seven innings. He struck out seven.

“My hat’s off to Jesse,” Delgadillo said. “He’s a senior on the mound. I told him we needed him in Game 1, for seven, eight or nine innings – whatever he could give us. He did what I asked him to.”

Gregory-Portland’s Ely Gordon and Tristan Pena greeted Medina with back-to-back singles, leading off the eighth. Pena’s was misplayed for a three-base error. Both Gordon and Pena scored on the play.

Sage Hamon followed with a third–straight single and Heaven Garcia was summoned to relieve Medina. McCollum second baseman A.J. Vasquez executed a nice play on a chopper up the middle to end the inning and prevent another G-P run.

In the Cowboys’ half of the eighth, Ryan Villalobos reached base on an error and Ortiz added a single to right field with two outs. Busse extinguished the threat with his last strikeout.

Wildcats pitcher Blane Hamon shut out the Cowboys on Saturday.

Gregory-Portland led just 1-0 through three innings, but erupted for six runs in the fourth behind doubles from Tim Rogers (2 RBIs) and Gesier (RBI). The game ended after another Wildcats rally in the fifth.

SOFTBALL: Area playoff schedule/results (complete)

NOTE: teams we cover are in boldface

Games of May 4-10

Monday’s game

TAPPS CLASS 4A

State quarterfinals

Victoria St. Joseph (24-11) 10, Holy Cross (26-11-1) (Victoria St. Joseph advances)

 

Thursday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV quarterfinals

Southwest (30-9) 11, Steele (19-13) 9 (best-of-3 series, Southwest leads 1-0)

 

Friday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV quarterfinals

Southwest (31-9) 6, Steele (19-14) 3 (best-of-3 series, Southwest wins 2-0; advances to play San Benito in Region IV semifinals)

 

Saturday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV quarterfinals

Southwest (30-9) vs. Steele (19-13) at Northside ISD Field No. 2, 7:30 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): (best-of-3 series, Southwest leads 1-0)

Games of May 11-17

Friday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV semifinals

Southwest (31-9) vs. San Benito (27-4) at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m. Game 1: best-of-3 series

Saturday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV semifinals

Southwest (31-9) vs. San Benito (27-4) at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 2 p.m. Game 2: best-of-3 series

Southwest (31-9) vs. San Benito (27-4) at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 4:30 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): best-of-3 series

SOFTBALL: Cowboys push bi-district series to three games

Victoria East records back-to-back wins over McCollum

To win a playoff softball series, more than raw ability is required. Teams generally also have to keep a competitive edge for the two or three games it takes to accomplish the task.

District 29-4A runner-up McCollum (17-8) picked up valuable experience last weekend in three Class 4A bi-district games against Victoria East (19-13-2) at Seguin. The Cowboys showed their mettle in winning the first game 8-1 on Friday. The Titans won the series with 6-4 and 2-0 victories on Saturday.

“That was killer,” McCollum coach Larissa Cover said. “For the freshmen, sophomores and juniors, I told them to remember that feeling. That’s what has to motivate them for the offseason and summer.”

The Cowboys won for the fourth time in five games when they defeated the Titans in the series opener. McCollum junior pitcher Kim Abundis held Victoria East to two hits while walking one and striking out seven.

“As far as our season was concerned,” Cover said, “the 8-1 win on Friday pretty much showed we were prepared. We came out on fire.”

East scored an unearned run in the first inning. McCollum tied it in the second on an RBI single from Savannah Borjas (3-for-4, RBI). The Cowboys took the lead on Lauren Martinez’s sacrifice fly in the third.

A single from Abundis (2-for-3, RBI) increased McCollum’s lead to 3-1 in the fourth. Amanda Huron (2-for-4, 3 RBIs) collected an RBI on a sixth inning double.

“Abundis was on fire,” Cover said. “That was probably the best ball we played on the field. Throughout the season, we’ve been really consistent about being together on the field. I really like the way we were able to come together.”

In the seventh, the Cowboys kicked it into high gear with a four-run rally.

Martinez (2-for-2) drove in another run, this time with a base hit. Erica Martinez scored on the play. Huron added a two-run double. The Cowboys’ final run scored on a ground out.

McCollum finished with 11 hits.

“I was very proud of them,” Cover said. “Saturday, we just couldn’t get the bat on the ball. We pitched very well, but it’s not all about pitching. Our defense also was excellent both days.”

McCollum led 3-1 in the second inning of Game 2, following an RBI double from Kim Casias (2-for-4, 3 RBIs). The Titans scored five runs over the next two innings.

An RBI double from Lauren Martinez in the sixth brought the Cowboys within 5-2. Casias produced the final score by blasting a two-run home run in the seventh.

“I thought that might have given us some momentum going into the third game,” Cover said. “For Kim, I’m very proud that she stepped up and had a big game. She also played awesome defense. She really lifted us up a lot.”

McCollum freshman Amber Saucedo pitched the final game of the series, allowing just two hits. The Cowboys mustered four hits against East pitcher Alisha Quinterro, but made two errors while East had none.

The Titans scored runs in the third and seventh innings.

“Amber kept us in the ballgame,” Cover said. “All game, she competed on a high level. That’s what we wanted from her.”

The Cowboys didn’t make playoffs last year, so the series was a new experience for several Cowboys.

“This is a very young group,” Cover said. “We have three freshmen who, before Saturday, were only used to playing district games. We were trying to get them to comprehend that they needed to be at that same level for every game, like the juniors and seniors.”

McCollum had a strong finish to the season. It defeated Uvalde 8-3 April 11 at the Frank Tejeda Complex, a win that helped assure the Cowboys of second place.

“We knew what was on the line,” Cover said. “We wanted to clinch second, so we needed that win. Kim Abundis was on fire. Val Lopez and Brianna Kinnard hit home runs. That was big for two freshmen. We needed them to step up and they did.”

On April 15, the Cowboys traveled to Medina Valley and gave the Panthers (14-0 in district) their toughest battle of the 29-4A season. Both teams were scoreless until the bottom of the eighth inning when the host team scored both of its runs for a 2-0 victory.

Panthers pitcher Kylee DeCock pitched a no-hitter, yet the Cowboys were able to force extra innings. Medina Valley was ranked No. 1 in the final Express-News area rankings.

“That was one of our high points,” Cover said. “That was a big game. We did something that not many teams in the city were able to do. Medina Valley was the No. 1 team in the city and we kept them scoreless for seven innings. Hats off to my team for that.”

McCollum only had two seniors on its roster, starting catcher Huron and Kim Puente.

“Amanda was really lights out this year,” Cover said. “It was her best-ever hitting year. I was very proud of Amanda’s hitting.”

With the vast majority of the team returning and bringing back newly gained playoff experience, the Cowboys are looking forward to the 2015 season.

“It’s promising,” Cover said. “Let’s focus on the positives. Last year, we didn’t make the playoffs, but we came back strong. I think we have a foundation to build on for next year. It’s a great start, not just to make the playoffs, but to be competitive. Hopefully, next year we can go two rounds deep or three rounds deep.”

SOFTBALL: Holy Cross holds on to surpass area round

 

Knights set up rematch Monday with Victoria St. Joseph

Knights senior pitcher Julia Ibarra beats the throw and arrives safely at second base.
Knights senior pitcher Julia Ibarra held Houston Lutheran South to five hits.

Holy Cross’ area-round win at Houston Lutheran South wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it accomplished the mission.

The Knights (15-11) advanced to the state quarterfinals for the second-consecutive season with a victory over the Pioneers Saturday. Holy Cross scored four runs in the first four innings to win the TAPPS Class 4A playoff game.

“We put the ball in play,” Holy Cross coach Angel Cedillo said, referring to his team’s 13-hit attack. “We just didn’t capitalize enough. But the girls played well enough. They defended very well. We did what we had to do to get through to College Station.”

Holy Cross broke the ice in the second inning, taking a 1-0 lead. The Knights scored two runs in the third and another in the fourth.

Juniors Kennedy Rivera and Marisol Ortega led Holy Cross’ offense.

“We had timely hitting,” Cedillo said. “Kennedy had a couple of doubles. She hit the ball really well. Marisol got on base a couple of times and scored two of our runs. I think Kennedy and Marisol were the standouts, offensively.”

Trailing 4-0, Lutheran South scored its first run in the bottom of the fourth. The Pioneers scored two more runs in the fifth before Holy Cross senior pitcher Julia Ibarra shut them down again.

Ibarra limited Lutheran South to five hits.

“I was really proud of their poise,” Cedillo said. “They showed a lot of moxie.”

Holy Cross is tentatively scheduled to play district rival Victoria St. Joseph (18-12) 4 p.m. Monday at Texas A&M University. St. Joseph is the TAPPS 3-4A champion. The Knights finished third.

In their regular-season meeting, the Flyers prevailed 4-3 March 29 at Holy Cross.

“They’ve been the team to beat for a few years,” Cedillo said. “They have good pitching, they play good defense and they put the ball in play. We’ve been close to them a few times, but we’re excited for the opportunity to play them on a neutral site.”

The winner will play the Corpus Christi Incarnate Word-Sugar Land Fort Bend Christian winner in the semifinals.

 

SOFTBALL: Brackenridge vs. Boerne Champion bi-district photo gallery, April 24, 2014 (Photos by KJ Toso)

 

Photos taken by KJ Toso. For more photos or to purchase photos, please visit: http://kjtoso.photoshelter.com

Bi-district playoff, Game 1 at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1

Brackenridge shortstop Miranda Sandoval makes a play on a Boerne Champion runner.
Brackenridge shortstop Miranda Sandoval makes a play on a Boerne Champion runner.
Brackenridge senior Ana DeLeon, throwing from right field, drove in a run in Game 1 against Boerne Champion.
Brackenridge senior Ana DeLeon, throwing from right field, drove in a run in Game 1 against Boerne Champion.
Brackenridge left fielder Josette Garcia made an outstanding running catch to end the third inning against Champion.
Brackenridge left fielder Josette Garcia made an outstanding running catch to end the third inning against Champion.
Junior Alexis Berlanga pitched both games against Boerne Champion for Brackenridge.
Junior Alexis Berlanga pitched both games against Boerne Champion for Brackenridge.

 

BASEBALL: South San makes most of second qualifying chance

Bobcats win tie-breaker, make third-straight playoff trip

Isaac Lugo pitched the seventh inning in South San's 13-7 win over Steele, which earned the Bobcats their third-consecutive playoff berth.
Isaac Lugo pitched the seventh inning in South San’s 13-7 win over Steele, which earned the Bobcats their third-consecutive playoff berth.

South San picked the perfect time to end its swoon.

The Bobcats (14-13, 3-7) lost their last six District 28-5A games, landing them in a fourth-place tie with Steele (13-15, 3-7). However, South San reversed the skid with a decisive 13-7 victory over the Knights in the tie-breaker game Saturday afternoon at SAISD Field No. 1 and extended their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to three.

“We just keep fighting,” South San senior catcher Adrian Gallegos said. “The past three years, we’ve made the playoffs, and it’s been good. We wanted to take it to them. We’re seniors now and we want to go out on top.”

Gallegos was a freshman in 2011, the last time the Bobcats failed to make the playoffs. They also finished with a 3-7 district record that season.

This year, three of South San’s last five losses were by five runs or fewer, including a 5-0 loss at home to undefeated district champion Corpus Christi Carroll (27-3, 10-0) Friday that forced the tie-breaker.

“We’ve been our worst enemy,” South San coach Robert Zamora said. “but we got a second chance.”

South San wasted no time in taking advantage of the opportunity.

The Bobcats manufactured a five-run rally in their half of the first, after falling behind 1-0 when Steele’s P.J. Sanchez doubled and Josh Haese followed with a run-scoring single. South San drew five walks from the first of the three pitchers the Knights employed, helping to fuel the outburst.

South San senior pitcher John Gamez (1-for-3, RBI) got things started with a base on balls. Daniel Delgado was safe on a fielder’s choice, bringing up Gallegos (2-for-4, 2 RBIs). The fourth-year varsity player drove in the tying run with double to the right-center field gap. Delgado also scored on the play when the ball was misplayed for the first of Steele’s six errors.

After a walk to Frank Bosmans, Nick Herrera drove an RBI single. Herrera scored the fourth run on a wild pitch. Isaac Lugo reached base on a fielder’s choice, ahead of three walks, and scored on a throwing error for a 5-1 lead.
“We knew we were a winning team,” Gamez said. “We were going to play as hard as we could. Fortunately, we got a big lead. Then all I had to do was throw strikes.”

The Knights didn’t score again against Gamez until the fifth inning.

“I just tried to go hard at them and get outs,” he said.

In the South San fourth, designated hitter Joe Miera (2-for-3, 3 RBIs) delivered a two-run single with two outs. The hit prompted Steele’s second pitching change, but didn’t stop the Bobcats. Herrera scored on a suicide-squeeze bunt from Rafael Lopez that increased South San’s lead to 8-1 at the end of four innings.

From that point, though, South San wasn’t able to coast.

With one out in the fifth, the Knights worked two consecutive walks. Tyler Petoskey hit a chopper that got through the infield and Steele was within six.

“Those walks have a way of coming back to bite you,” Zamora lamented. “They scored their first urn after a walk. With any walks we give up, it’s almost been a 100-percent chance that they score. There has been no eight or nine out of 10, or even 50-50.”

Steele drew two more walks to lead off the sixth, igniting a four-run rally.

Corey Killen was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing in the first run. With bases still full, Jake Webb gave the Knights an easy run with a walk. Steele pulled within 8-6 on a two-run single from Petoskey.
Webb scored on a bases-loaded walk again in the seventh, but the outcome already had been decided.

“We took advantage of their mistakes early, but they fought back,” Zamora said. “Finally, we got a comebacker and were able to get out of that inning.”

The Bobcats pulled their bacon out of the fire in the bottom of the sixth, manufacturing a five-run rally that started with a hit batsman from Herrera.

Miera and Gamez contributed RBI singles. With two outs, Gallegos drew a bases-loaded walk that forced in a run and the Bobcats scored on an error that made it 13-6.

“It was a great win at a great time,” Gallegos said. “It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but the playoffs are another chance to win.”

Despite the bumpy finish, South San responded when Steele posed a threat.

“I’m very proud of the boys on this team,” Zamora said. “We could have, very easily, just folded and not showed pride in (this) game. But we had a lot of pride and a lot of heart, in playing the way we did. I was just so happy for the team, rebounding the way we did.”

The Bobcats will play District 27-5A champion O’Connor (28-1) in a three-game bi-district series. Games are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Northside Field No. 2, 7 p.m. Friday at South San and 2 p.m. Saturday (if necessary) at South San.

“That’s what everyone shoots for,” Zamora said of the postseason appearance. “We’ve got a ticket to the dance. Whatever happens, happens. I want to make sure we have a chance (to win).”

South San will have a reunion O’Connor, No. 1 in the Express-News area rankings. The teams met in the area round last year, with the Panthers winning 1-0 in a one-game showdown.

“We’ll compete with everything we have against them,” Gamez said. “We don’t care who we play. We’ll do our part and compete.”