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.”

SOFTBALL WEEKEND REPORT: Southwest hammers Brandeis in series sweep

Edison battles Lockhart to end in Game 2

 

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Junior Alexis Berlanga pitched both games against Boerne Champion for Brackenridge.
Junior Alexis Berlanga pitched both games against Boerne Champion for Brackenridge.
Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales hit a grand slam in Game 2 against Brandeis.
Southwest senior Kamerie Vidales hit a grand slam in Game 2 against Brandeis.
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.

TEAMS INCLUDEDBrackenridge, Edison, Jefferson, Southwest.

Southwest (27-8) hit five home runs in the two-game sweep of Brandeis (13-15). Interestingly, The Dragons also swept the Broncos last year in the Class 5A bi-district round.

Southwest’s Kayla Arguello, Krystal Salinas and winning pitcher Cailtin Terrzas all hit home runs in Friday’s game at SAISD Field No. 1 as the Dragons prevailed 15-2. Seniors Liz Phillips and Kamerie Vidales each hit homers Saturday, fueling a 12-6 victory, as the series shifted to Southwest.

Phillips hit a two-run homer early in the game and Vidales supplied a grand slam in the fifth, when Southwest’s lead had shrunk to 7-5. The Dragons amassed 17 hits.

In Friday’s game, Southwest scored four runs in the second inning and eight in the third for a 12-1 lead. Terrazas limited Brandeis to six hits while the Dragons thumped 14.

“We came out with our bats ready,” Southwest coach Sandy Hernandez said after Friday’s win. “Especially with CT pitching, it was nice to get her so many runs.”

The eight-run explosion in the third inning featured a three-run homer from Arguello and a two-run shot from Terrazas.

“It was just being prepared and waiting for their pitch,” Hernandez said. “I told them, ‘We have to wait for

her to make a mistake, instead of chasing her junk (pitches). We definitely were patient at the plate and

(strong) to the ball.”

Salinas delivered a two-run blast during the second-inning rally.

Southwest will play Judson in the area round. Games are 7 p.m. Thursday at Northeast ISD Field, 7 p.m. Friday at Villarreal Field No. 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Northside ISD Complex.

Lockhart 12-14, Edison 1-11

The Mustangs (17-6) had to fight to hold off District 28-4A No. 3 seed Edison (10-17) in Game 2 Saturday after walloping the Golden Bears in the series opener Friday. Both games were played at the Northeast ISD Complex.

Edison established a 5-0 lead by the second inning of Game 2. Lockhart wasn’t able to overtake the Golden Bears until the top of the fifth, when it produced the second of two consecutive three-run innings.

The Golden Bears regained the lead with three runs in the top of the eighth, but it was short-lived. The Lions struck for eight in their half of the inning. Edison was able to score three runs in the seventh, but couldn’t extend the series.

Edison manufactured 19 hits in the second game, including a home run from Isabel Lopez. The Lions had 1 hits.

In Game 1, Lions pitcher Gabby Ybarra held Edison to two hits. Lockhart scored 12 runs on just seven hits against Golden Bears ace Celeste Vela. The Lions scored all of their runs in the first three innings, including six in the second.

Cheyenne Martin hit a home run for District 27-4A runner-up Lockhart.

Boerne Champion 8, Brackenridge 3

The Chargers (15-11) completed a series sweep in its best-of-three set Brackenridge (17-10-1) Friday at Champion.

Brackenridge took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first after Allie Castillo drew a walk. Jacklynn Nevarez (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) and Lexus Lozano (2-for-4, RBI) crunched back-to-back RBI doubles.

The Chargers cut the lead in half in the first inning and tied it in the second. Eagles pitcher Alexis Berlanga kept Champion scoreless in the third, but it pounced on its scoring opportunities in the fourth for a 6-2 lead.

The Eagles added a run in the seventh for the final score. Miranda Sandoval reached on fielder’s choice. Castillo chipped in with an infield single. Following a double steal,
Nevarez drove in the run with a sacrifice fly.

Brackenridge individual statistics were not available. Champion finished with 10 hits. The Eagles had six.

Champion had defeated the Eagles 6-2 Thursday in the series opener at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1. That victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Chargers.

Hays 14, Jefferson 3

The District 27-4A champion Rebels (21-3) blanked 28-4A fourth-place finisher Jefferson (10-12) in a one-game playoff Friday at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1.

Hays scored in each inning beginning with four runs in the first. The Rebels finished with 14 hits, while Hays pitcher Sarah Leal limited the Mustangs to three.

BASEBALL: Bulldogs’ offense awakens during crunch time

Burbank and Arturo Martinez defeated Lanier in a game to decide fourth place in District 28-4A.
Burbank’s Arturo Martinez drove in two runs as the Bulldogs defeated Lanier in a game to decide fourth place in District 28-4A.

Burbank defeats Lanier in do-or-die game, earns fifth-straight playoff trip

 

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Count flexibility among Burbank coach Romeo Barrera’s traits.

Burbank’s athletic coordinator conveyed to the veteran coach that a parent had told him Barrera was being too conservative. Barrera took the constructive criticism, talked it over with his staff and a more aggressive offensive team was born.

The Bulldogs (8-16-1, 5-7), who scored 29 runs in their last three District 28-4A games, defeated Lanier (7-15, 4-8) 11-7 in a winner-take-all game last Thursday at SAISD Field No. 2. Burbank claimed fourth place with the win, while the Voks fell into a fifth-place tie with with Edison (4-17, 4-8).

A suggestion from Burbank assistant coach Joe Sanchez earlier in the year that the players needed to see more live pitching and spend less time hitting off the pitching machine may have planted the seed.

“I could see that we needed to be more aggressive,” Barrera said. “We started to bunt more to get runners over, y’know, doing a safety squeeze when it was called for. That kind of pushed some buttons in me.

“Every group of kids is different. Something that works with one group of kids may not work with another. Sometimes you have to step outside yourself, and see yourself as others see you.”

The win had an added bonus for Burbank. The Bulldogs tied Highlands (10-13, 5-7) for third place in the district, although the Owls will claim the district’s No. 3 seed because of two head-to-head wins over the Bulldogs.

Lanier finished the 2013 season by losing a fourth-place tie-breaker to Highlands. The Voks have narrowly missed the playoffs in four of the last five years.

“It was the same opportunity as last year,” Lanier coach Carlos Sanchez said. “Like I told the kids, no one else has this opportunity.

“They were ready. We had really good practices three days in a row. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due. Burbank hit the ball more than we hit and they were victorious.”

Two weeks ago, after back-to-back losses to District 28-4A champion Brennan and runner-up Brackenridge, it appeared Burbank’s streak of playoff appearance was in jeopardy. All it took was three-straight wins to for the Bulldogs to garner a hard-earned fifth playoff trip in a row.

Barrera put a countdown on the chalkboard in Burbank’s locker room to remind the Bulldogs players of the task at hand.

“We put it up there, ‘How do you want to be remembered?,’ ” Barrera said, “2001 was the last time Burbank didn’t make the playoffs on the field. Especially for the seniors, we knew they didn’t want to be the first ones (since) not to make the playoffs. Those seniors stepped up.

“It was really good to see them achieve their goals. I’m really excited for them. I’ve never seen them so happy. They gave the extra effort.”

The outcome of Thursday’s game was in doubt heading into the seventh inning. The young Voks scored three runs in the top of the sixth to give themselves on outside chance of ending their five-game losing streak and making the cut. Three of those losses were by four runs or fewer.

Lanier got off to a 4-3 start in district play, which included a 3-1 win over Burbank on March 25.

“My boys believed we could beat them, because they’d done it already,” Sanchez said. “They were reqady to go. But Burbank blossomed. They started hitting the ball at the right time.

“That’s what it amounted to in district this year, who made plays and who got hits. The first time around, we hit the ball and we made plays. This time, it was the reverse.”

Both teams scored twice in the first inning. Lanier inched ahead with a run in the top of the second. Burbank seized control with a five-run explosion in the bottom of the inning.

Burbank’s 12-hit attack included its first home run of the season, from sophomore Jonathan Martinez.

“Burbank outhit us,” Sanchez said. “You’ve got to give them credit. That’s the bottom line.”

Martinez hit the two-run blast in the fourth inning and also had an RBI single among his three hits. Jonathan Alanis also had three hits, including two doubles. Tristan Settles (2 doubles, RBI), Conrad Perez (double, 3 RBIs), Felix Perez (triple, RBI) and Jeremy Moreno (RBI) also supplied two hits. Arturo Martinez added two RBIs.

“Our top hitter, Jeremy, has been kind of sparkplug,” Barrera said, “but our Nos. 3 and 4 hitters really went off. (Settles and Martinez) played a really big part, coming through and having such a big play.”

The Voks closed within 7-4 in the top of the fourth. Jon Garza (triple), Don Pardo (double, two RBIs) and pitcher Hector DeHoyos were Lanier’s leaders.

“Those three seniors (played well),” Sanchez said. “All season long, they’ve been the ones who’ve hit the ball consistently, and at the right time.”

The Bulldogs had an answer once again. Burbank scored two runs apiece in the fourth and fifth for a seven-run cushion.

Settles was the winning pitcher.

“We hadn’t really been able to get our offense going until the last three games,” Barrera said. “I think a big part of that was a testament to the kids. They were in playoff mode. If we hadn’t won those three, we wouldn’t have been there.”

Burbank will play District 27-4A champion Hays in a best-of-three series, which begins Thursday with a 7 p.m. game at SAISD Field No. 1. The series then moves to Buda for a 7 p.m. game at Hays Friday and, if necessary, a 1 p.m. game Saturday.

“Now the season starts all over,” Barrera said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

The Bulldogs played Hays in the bi-district round last season. The Rebels won in two games.

“They’ve got a pitcher who’s going to A&M that threw against us last year,” Barrera said, referring to Tyler Woodmansee. “He’s going to be tough. We’ve got to find a way to get on base and find a way to score.

“I believe in the kids. I believe they’ll give us a chance to win.”

Lanier could be gearing up for a big year in 2015.

“I told them, ‘Look at how many guys we lost from last year,’ ” Sanchez said. “We’re young. They didn’t expect us to be here. We lost our entire infield from last year and we only had one returning outfielder.

“Look at what we accomplished. We had an opportunity to get to the playoffs. That’s a positive, and I’m very proud of to be coach of this team.

“We’ve come a long way, but we’re still young. We’ve got a lot to build on. It looks promising for next year and years to come.”

SOFTBALL: East Central finds hitting groove in Game 2 vs. Taft

 

Hornets complete sweep, return to area round

 

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East Central left fielder Angel Lopez drive in two runs in Game 2 vs. Taft, helping the Hornets sweep the series.
East Central left fielder Angel Lopez drive in two runs in Game 2 vs. Taft, helping the Hornets sweep the series.

 From the third-base coaches’ box last Friday, throughout Game 2 if East Central’s best-of-three series with Taft, Hornets coach Megan McCutcheon could be heard urging her players to hit the ball hard.

Her pleas did not fall on deaf ears. From the top of the order to the bottom, they scorched it.

The Hornets (25-8) produced 10 hits in a 12-5 bi-district victory over Taft (18-10). East Central swept the series and moved on to play San Marcos this weekend.

“We just talked about doing more hitting,” McCutcheon said, “not waiting in the (batter’s) box. Not waiting for our pitch. First-pitch hitting was all we talked about. Hit the first (strike) hard.”

The Hornets had a pronounced sense of urgency after the offense failed to launch until the end of Game 1. Host East Central claimed a 3-2 walk-off win on junior Haydi Bugarin’s home run in the bottom of the 10th.

“I was thinking, ‘I’ve been seeing her so well tonight,’ ” Bugarin said. “Every single at-bat, I was seeing her well. I’m glad I finally hit the ball.”

East Central, Holy Cross and Southwest were the only area teams to survive the first week of postseason play. The Hornets advanced to the area round for the second-consecutive season and third time in four years.

“It was really good competition,” Taft coach Allison Briseno said. “It was just an exciting game. One hit here or there and it would have been a different ballgame.That got the hits last night, primarily at the end. Today was a new day.”

The Hornets scored in the second inning on freshman Angel Lopez’s RBI single. East Central junior Madison Strunk, who pitched the first-game victory, drew a walk and Hailey Reynolds was safe on an error, preceding the hit.

In the bottom of the second, Hornets senior Taylor Doege pitched out of a bases-loaded jam, stranding three Raiders on base.

“It was great to have that support out there,” Doege said. “My defense was awesome.”

Another freshman, Kendall Talley, led off the third with a single and stole home on the back end of a delayed double steal with Alexis Macias for a 2-0 lead.

“I love it,” McCucheon said of the Hornets’ freshmen. “They’re getting playoff experience. They’re learning. They make mistakes, but they’re working hard and they’re making contributions.”

Taft closed within a run in the bottom of the inning when Kristina Tiffany blasted a home run to left-center field in the bottom of the third.

“Coach McCutcheon always hypes us up,” Doege said. “She never lets us get down on ourselves. She always makes sure we keeps the ‘head edge,’ as she says.

“We can’t let ourselves get down if we struggle offensively or make errors. If we make an error, we can get a double play. If one person doesn’t hit, someone else will pick her up.”

East Central erupted for five runs in the fifth, keyed by an RBI triple from Talley (3-for-4, RBI) and a run-scoring double by senior Alexis Macias (2 RBIs).

“That one inning killed us,” Briseno said, “with all those runs. It didn’t go our way.”

Strunk hit a long fly ball, which was ruled a two-base error and sparked the rally. Lopez (2-for-3) drove in her second run. Talley’s triple picked up another run and Macias followed with the run-scoring double.

Ahead 5-1, the Hornets benefitted from another dropped fly ball – this time off Bugarin’s bat.

“She kept us in the game again today,” McCucheon said. “She got another clutch hit. Haydi’s going to capitalize if she gets anything to hit. She may be our best hitter.”

Doege (3-for-5) increased the lead to 7-1 with the first of her three-consecutive RBI singles.

“We were a little too patient (Thursday),” McCucheon said. “It was nice that we had four walks, but I want hits. I think they make a bigger impact.”

Freshman Gracie Becerra, the Hornets’ No. 9 hitter, produced a fifth-inning run with a single.

“We’re a really good hitting team,” Doege said. “Last night, I don’t want to say that we took it for granted, it’s just that we didn’t hit the ball like we know how to.”

Trailing 8-1, the Raiders rallied to score four runs on two hits in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Taft loaded the bases on a single from Hayley Hurley, a walk and an error. Tiffany (2-for-4, 3 RBIs) then came through with a two-run single. Raiders pitcher Cela Jo Hernandez added a sacrifice fly and Brianda Garza brought in another run with a safety-squeeze bunt.

 

East Central added a run in the sixth after Bugarin was safe on an error. She advanced two bases on a wild pitch and Doege sent a single up the middle that made it 9-5.

“If they give me a little bit of lee-way,” Bugarin said, “I’m going to take it.”

The Hornets put the game out of reach in the seventh when Lopez and Talley drew walks that served as cannon fodder. In succession, Macias produced a run with a ground out, Bugarin drove in one with a base hit and Doege collected her third RBI.

“I’ve got to give credit to East Central,” Briseno said. “They hit the ball really well, and they play hard. Especially after going 10 innings last night, only having one pitcher hurt us a little bit.”

Bugarin, celebrating her 17th birthday, referred her first hit of the evening as a present.

“Once we start hitting, everybody in the lineup hits,” Bugarin said. “I could see them starting to have their heads down. We knew we could take advantage of that.”

East Central will play host to San Marcos at 7 p.m. Thursday in the first game of a best-of-three series. The series shifts to San Marcos for Game 2 at 7 p.m. Friday. The third game, if necessary, will be played 2 p.m. Saturday at Mary Ann Villarreal Field No. 1. The Hornets would be the home team for the prospective series finale.

“Anybody we play, we’re going to give them our all,” Bugarin said. “We’re a good team. We can hit from No. 1 through No. 9. There’s no weakness in our offense at all. We can go far, as far as we see ourselves going.”

BASEBALL: Area rankings (final)

 

Final

TOP 15:

1. McCollum

2. Central Catholic

3. Southwest

4. Brackenridge

5. Burbank

6. South San

7. Harlandale

8. East Central

9. Kennedy

10. Highlands

11. Holy Cross

12. Jefferson

13. Memorial

14. Lanier

15. Edison

 

BASEBALL: Area playoff schedule/results (complete)

NOTE: teams we cover are in boldface

Games of April 27-May 3

Monday’s game

TAPPS CLASS 5A

Bi-district round

Houston St. Pius X (18-14) 9, Central Catholic (16-13)(Houston St. Pius X advances)

 

Wednesday’s game

CLASS 4A

BI-district round

Clemens (18-9) 6, Brackenridge (14-9(best-of-3 series, Clemens leads 1-0)

 

Thursday’s games

CLASS 5A

BI-district round

Brandeis (15-11) 3, Southwest (12-1111 (best-of-3 series, Brandeis leads 1-0) 

O’Connor (29-1) 11, South San (14-140 (5 innings) (best-of-3 series, O’Connor leads 1-0)

CLASS 4A

BI-district round

Hays (24-4) 8, Burbank (8-17-10 (best-of-3 series, Hays leads 1-0)

Corpus Christi Calallen (30-3) 14, Harlandale (12-133 (best-of-3 series, Corpus Christi Calallen leads 1-0)

 

Friday’s games

CLASS 5A

BI-district round

Brandeis (16-11) 8, Southwest (12-12-10 (best-of-3 series, Brandeis wins 2-0) 

O’Connor (30-1) 4, South San (14-15) 0 (best-of-3 series, O’Connor wins 2-0)

CLASS 4A

BI-district round

Clemens (19-9) 12, Brackenridge (14-100 (6 innings) (best-of-3 series, Clemens wins 2-0)

Hays (25-4) 7, Burbank (8-18-1(best-of-3 series, Hays wins 2-0)

Corpus Christi Calallen (31-3) 1, Harlandale (12-140 (best-of-3 series, Corpus Christi Calallen wins 2-0) 

Seguin (22-4-1) 11, Highlands (10-14(1-game playoff, Seguin advances)

Gregory-Portland (14-7-1 ???) 2, McCollum (24-60 (8 innings) (best-of-3 series, Gregory-Portland leads 1-0)

 

Saturday’s games

CLASS 4A

BI-district round

Gregory-Portland (15-7-1 ???) 10, McCollum (24-7) 0 (6 innings) (best-of-3 series, Gregory-Portland wins 2-0)

BASEBALL: St. Michael’s defeats Buttons in battle of location

 

Eight-run inning carries Crusaders past Central Catholic

It doesn’t hold true with the pros but, in high school baseball, low strikes are greater than high strikes.

The demonstration of the principle took place Wednesday at Kahlig Park. Austin St. Michael’s pitcher Brendan McGuigan worked his pitches inside and out, but mostly kept them low in the Crusaders’ 9-2 victory over host Central Catholic (15-12, 6-4).

The three pitchers employed by the Buttons, meanwhile, had difficulty hitting their targets.

“Coming into the game, we were playing very well,” Central Catholic coach Mike Gomez said. “Basically, we were doing just about everything right. Today, didn’t work in our favor.

“We were leaving the ball up. We were making some mistakes with that. When your opponent can tee off on the high stuff, you’re going to have trouble. You’ve got to keep the ball down in high school baseball. That was our game plan.”

The win put Austin St. Michael’s (19-8-2, 7-3), coached by former University of Texas all-American and Boston Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi, in second place in TAPPS District 2-5A behind Antonian. The Apaches (26-6, 8-2) defeated St. Anthony in their district finale Wednesday.

With the loss, which followed key wins over the Crusaders April 12 and Apaches April 16, Central Catholic finished third in the district.

The Buttons will begin postseason play with a 7 p.m. game tonight at Weimer against Houston St. Pius X (17-14). A win would put Central Catholic in the TAPPS state semifinals.

Central Catholic tied the score 1-1 in the bottom of the second inning on back-to-back doubles from senior Jonathan Ramirez and sophomore Zack Arambula. Arambula’s double hit on the right-center field warning track and bounced over the fence for a ground-rule shot. Ramirez’s clout also went to the right-center alley.

Arambula went to third on a passed ball and gave the Buttons a 2-1 lead on catcher Manny Martinez’s RBI single.

Central Catholic held the lead for the next two innings, but weren’t able to increase it. Ethan Rodriguez produced a leadoff single and Manny Martinez walked, but both Buttons runners were stranded on base.

“Our only problem was that we were leaving balls up,” Gomez said. “We started walking guys. The ump obviously wasn’t calling strikes up in the zone, but we didn’t adjust. Finally, we gave up those hits.”

In the top of the fifth, the Crusaders’ first two batters reached base. Andrew Butzin was safe on a base hit and Regan Hahn laid down perfect bunt that hugged third-base line for a single. Butzin and Hahn were the first of eight-consecutive St. Michael’s players to reach base.

In fact, both drove in runs later in the inning.

The Crusaders scored eight runs on eight fifth-inning hits, including two-run doubles from Reed Carlton and Grant Gilmore. They finished with 10 hits.

Sophomore first baseman Max Grullon (2-for-4) and senior starting pitcher Josh Godfrey began Central Catholic’s half of the fifth with infield singles. Godfrey beat out a bunt, sending Grullon to second base. He took third on a fielder’s choice from Ramirez, but was the last of eight Buttons runners to be left on base.

St. Michael’s only stranded two. The Crusaders drew three walks and two hit batsmen.

McGuigan and closer Brett Cook combined to retire the last eight Central Catholic batters in order.

In Austin, the Buttons outhit St. Michael’s 10-3 in a 9-4 victory.

“Last time, we threw strikes,” Gomez said. “We got ground balls and we got them out. The big thing is that we kept the ball down and kept them off-stride.”

Gomez stressed that having his pitchers hit their targets would be vital against St. Pius X.

“That’s something we always need to do,” he said. “We’re going to hit the ball and score runs.”

 

BASEBALL: Area playoff pairings (complete)

 

NOTE: teams we cover are in boldface

Games of April 27-May 3

Monday’s game

TAPPS CLASS 5A

State quarterfinals

Houston St. Pius X (18-14) 9, Central Catholic (16-13) 1

 

CLASS 5A

BI-district round

Southwest (12-10-1) vs. Brandeis (14-11): best-of-3 series: Game 1: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, at Southwest; Game 2: 7:30 p.m., Friday, at Northside ISD Field No. 2; Game 3 (if necessary): 2 p.m., Saturday, at SAISD Field No. 1.

South San (14-13) vs. O’Connor (28-1): best-of-3 series: Game 1: 7 p.m., Thursday, at Northside Field No. 2; Game 2: 7 p.m., Friday, at South San; Game 3 (if necessary): 2 p.m., Saturday, at South San.

 

CLASS 4A

BI-district round

Brackenridge (14-8) vs. Clemens (17-9): best-of-3 series: Game 1: 7 p.m., Wednesday, at Clemens; Game 2: 7:30 p.m., Friday, at SAISD Field No. 1; Game 3 (if necessary): 1 p.m., Saturday, at Clemens.

Burbank (8-16-1) vs. Hays (23-4): best-of-3 series: Game 1: 7 p.m., Thursday, at SAISD Field No. 1; Game 2: 7 p.m., Friday, at Hays; Game 3 (if necessary): 1 p.m., Saturday, at Hays.

Harlandale (12-12) vs. Corpus Christi Calallen (29-3): best-of-3 series: Game 1: 8 p.m., Thursday, at Frank Tejeda Complex; Game 2: 6 p.m., Friday, at Corpus Christi Calallen; Game 3 (if necessary): 8:30 p.m., Friday, at Corpus Christi Calallen.

Highlands (10-13) at Seguin (21-4-1), 7 p.m., Friday. 1-game playoff

McCollum (24-5) vs. Gregory-Portland (13-7-1 ???): best-of-3 series: Game 1: 7 p.m., Friday, at Tejeda Complex; Game 2: 2 p.m.Saturday, at Gregory-Portland; Game 3 (if necessary): 4:30 p.m., Saturday, at Gregory-Portland.

SOFTBALL: Area playoff schedule/results (thru May 3)

 

NOTE: teams we cover are in boldface

Games of April 27-May 3

 

Thursday’s games

CLASS 5A

BI-district round

San Marcos (27-9) 5, East Central (25-7) 4 (best-of-3 series, San Marcos leads 1-0)

Judson (28-6) 8, Southwest (27-9(best-of-3 series, Judson leads 1-0)

 

Friday’s games

CLASS 5A

BI-district round

San Marcos (28-9) 4, East Central (25-83 (best-of-3 series, San Marcos wins 2-0)

Southwest (28-9) 14, Judson (28-7) 4 (6 innings) (best-of-3 series, series tied 1-1)

 

Saturday’s games

CLASS 5A

BI-district round

Southwest (29-9) 14, Judson (28-8) 7 (best-of-3 series, Southwest wins 2-1)

 

Games of May 4-10

Monday’s game

TAPPS CLASS 4A

State quarterfinals

Holy Cross (26-10-1vs. Victoria St. Joseph (21-11), 4 p.m., at Texas A&M University 

 

Thursday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV quarterfinals

Southwest (29-9) vs. Steele (19-12) at Northeast ISD east field, 7:30 p.m.

 

Friday’s game

CLASS 5A

Region IV quarterfinals

Southwest (29-9) vs. Steele (19-12) at Villarreal Field No. 1, 7:30 p.m. Game 2: best-of-3 series

 

Saturday’s game

 

CLASS 5A

Region IV quarterfinals

Southwest (29-9) vs. Steele (19-12) at Northside ISD Field No. 2, 7:30 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): best-of-3 series