Knights reach TAPPS state quarters for second year
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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.”