Cowboys down Brack to take 28-5A lead
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brackenridge, Jefferson, McCollum.
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By their very nature, no-hitters are rare. When they occur in back-to-back outings, it’s like capturing lightning in a bottle.
Yet, that’s what McCollum’s Kim Abundis accomplished recently. The senior pitcher was unscathed in outings against Burbank March 7 and Jefferson March 12.
“I have more confidence and I have more pitches this year,” Abundis said. “I pitched a lot more in the offseason.”
Abundis (6-2) took a perfect game into the fourth inning of the 14-0 win over Jefferson. It was the perfect encore to McCollum’s 7-1 victory over Brackenridge, which put the Cowboys (10-2, 5-0) in the District 28-5A driver’s seat a couple of hours earlier.
Sophomore pitcher Amber Saucedo (4-0) scattered six hits in the showdown win over Brackenridge (7-7, 3-1).
“It’s been a work in progress this year,” first-year McCollum coach James Rodriguez said. “We came in here struggling a little bit, but Amber and Kim both have been pitching well.”
They had plenty of offensive support. The Cowboys hammered 17 hits against Jefferson and 11 against the Eagles.
“This year, it’s been a big help, with all the runs we’re scoring,” said Abundis, who was 2-for-2 with three RBIs against Brack and 1-for-2 with two RBIs against Jefferson.
“I think all of us have good sticks. We’re all good hitters.”
The Cowboys against Brackenridge. Val Lopez singled, Abundis drove a two-run double and Erika Martinez brought in a fourth run on an Eagles error for a 5-0 lead through two innings.
“They had 11 hits and we had six,” Brackenridge coach Robyn Murken said. “They just put them together and had some unearned runs as well. But you look at the score, and it doesn’t seem like a 7-1 game.”
Brackenridge sophomore pitcher Alyssa Berlanga, another of the district’s top pitchers, had trouble finding her rhythm at the start, but was on target from the third inning forward. Berlanga retired the Cowboys in order in the third and didn’t allow another hit until she had recorded the first out in the sixth.
“Alexis told me she was warmed up,” Murken said. “Maybe what made the difference is that McCollum is a really good hitting team.”
The Eagles fell further behind in the sixth, when another Abundis double brought in a run and Martinez followed with an RBI single to right. Brackenridge scored in the bottom of the inning, when Jackie Nevarez’s sacrifice fly brought in Cece Camacho.
“We had trouble coming up to speed with (Saucedo’s) pitches,” Murken said. “We shut them down after the second inning, but we couldn’t get anything across.”
Brackenridge has been coping with injuries. The Eagles were missing third baseman Alexis Berlanga and catcher Celeste Canalez when they played the Cowboys. Both are seniors.
However, the Eagles have been fortifying one of their strengths as the season has unfolded.
“They’re very versatile,” Murken said. “I have people I can move around to play different positions.”
McCollum scored most of their runs with two outs against Jefferson. The Cowboys bolted to a 5-0 lead before the Mustangs batted. They combined three walks with hits from Kim Casias (3-for-4, RBI), Saucedo and Lauryn Martinez.
Lopez and Savannah Borjas (3-for-3, 2 RBIs) drilled consecutive two-out doubles in the third. Sophomore Brianna Kinnard knocked in Borjas to make it 11-0 after three innings.
Rodriguez and his wife, Kathleen, started the softball program at Schreiner College in 1996. Kathleen was Abundis’ offseason pitching coach.
The pair served as co-head coaches at Eastern New Mexico University and the University of Texas-El Paso before returning to San Antonio.
“It’s all about making sure we bunt, steal and do all the little things,” said Rodriguez, a McCollum alum who played baseball at St. Mary’s University. “We want to play smart softball and hit it to the gaps.”