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.”