SOFTBALL: Difficult loss helps give Wiatrek clarity on college choice

East Central softball all-stater/cheerleader/valedictorian Kirsten Wiatrek
East Central softball all-stater/cheerleader/valedictorian Kirsten Wiatrek

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Coaches ask their teams to learn from a loss.
What Kirsten Wiatrek learned from East Central’s last defeat in arguably the school’s best softball season blindsided her like a safety blitz. In fact, in ways yet to be revealed, it may have changed the course of her life.
When the Hornets lost their area-round game to Smithson Valley, and whose 2013 season continues in the Region IV finals, it wasn’t the margin of the 17-2 defeat that stung Wiatrek. What stunned the Hornets’ captain and all-state center fielder most was her unpredictable reaction to it.
“It was difficult to decide,” Wiatrek said, referring to the choice between playing collegiate softball or devoting that time to academics. “It was strange but, once we lost that playoff game, I had a sense of relief.
“I kept thinking that, if I was going to keep playing softball, I shouldn’t feel this way.”
At the time, the senior was mulling whether to accept a softball scholarship offer from St. Mary’s University. The message East Central’s valedictorian gleaned from the experience was that it was time to end her playing career.
Wiatrek decided instead to attend the University of the Incarnate Word. If she competes for the Cardinals, it won’t be on the diamond but in the classroom and possibly in cheerleading competitions.
She will major in pharmacy at UIW. It’s an academic path she couldn’t follow at St. Mary’s, a factor which complicated the decision.
“Academics, right now, is the game plan,” Wiatrek said. “I’m an early admit in pre-pharmacy. In two years, I’ll be able to enter the School of Pharmacy.
“I was really torn. The scholarship offer St. Mary’s gave me was really generous. It was hard knowing I was going to walk away from softball. But as much as I loved it, I also hated it.”
After 14 years of softball in one form or another, Wiatrek explained that she enjoyed the games much more than the practices. She also understood that college softball would require a much greater time commitment than the sport had at East Central.
“Everyone tells me that softball is like a job in college,” Wiatrek said. “With what I’ll be doing academically in college, softball really isn’t an option. If you’re not going to a (major college), you really have to love softball to play in college. I had my time with it, but I really had to walk away.”
When she was a freshman and sophomore at East Central, Wiatrek thought a legal profession might be her calling. So, when St. Mary’s came through with the offer of a softball scholarship, it reawakened her interest in that field and she entertained the idea of becoming a pre-law major.
Therefore, she was not only hamstrung between two catholic universities, but two completely different academic courses – both extremely challenging and involving.
“I probably would have walked-on at Incarnate Word,” Wiatrek said, referring to playing without a scholarship. “I wasn’t pursuing a softball scholarship until St. Mary’s wanted me. I was considering cheerleading in college.”
While East Central softball coach Bryan Waller supports Wiatrek’s decision, he knows that she was capable of performing well at the college level.
“I think she’d definitely do a great job,” Waller said, “if she had chosen St. Mary’s under Coach (Donna) Fields. I think she would be successful in whatever she chooses to do in life. Kirsten is one girl who, when she sets her mind to it, she gets it done.”
The EC alumna has everything it takes to have a great experience at UIW, according to her former softball coach.
“I see her doing exceptionally well,” Waller said, referring to Wiatrek’s academic potential. “She’s already accepted into pharmacy school there, so she has that lined up. Incarnate Word was where she had to go, because it’s one of the best for her career.”
Wiatrek plans to enter the six-year pharmacy program in her junior year. She plans to attend UIW as both a undergrad and graduate student.
“I was kind of burnt out from practicing three to four hours a day every day,” Wiatrek said of softball. “I sympathize with most high school seniors. It was time to give it up.”
Fortunately for her, there were bigger and better opportunities on the not-too-distant horizon because of an admirable track record in high school.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Thornton takes hoop dreams to California

Click here to read the full story on the Southside Reporter website:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/article/Thornton-to-play-at-San-Jos-State-4532199.php

Sam Houston senior Isaac Thornton has accepted a scholarship offer from San Jose State University, the school’s website reported May 3.

Thornton, a Class 3A all-state player, averaged 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds while leading the Hurricanes to the Region IV finals. He was selected as the District 28-3A most valuable player as a junior and as a senior at Sam Houston.

“I was trying to keep all my options open,” Thornton said, “but when they came forward with an opportunity and I examined it a little more, I knew that’s where I had to be.”

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior was an Express-News all-area selection this year.

“Isaac embodies everything I want in a student-athlete,” first-year SJSU coach David Wojcik said in a statement on the San Jose, Calif. school’s website. “He is a terrific person, student and basketball player. He is a very athletic and skilled guard who is able to score with his jump shot or take it to the basket.

“Isaac will represent the San Jose State basketball program, the university and the community exceptionally well. I am delighted that Isaac will be a part of the San Jose State family.”

Wojcik said he began recruiting Thornton on the recommendation of his friend Tim Littlefield, athletic director at the Gervin Academy.

Littlefield had recommended Warren High grad and Tulsa University standout Ben Uzoh to Wojcik when he was an associate head coach there. Uzoh has had three stints in the NBA since leaving Tulsa in 2010.

“Tim and I reached out to each other,” Wojcik said. “He told me about Isaac and recommended him. I flew to San Antonio and watched Isaac’s workout. Then one thing led to another.”

Thornton is the sixth player to sign with San Jose State for the 2013-14 season. SJSU is a NCAA Division I school which currently competes in the Western Athletic Conference along with the University of Texas-San Antonio. The Spartans will officially join the Mountain West Conference July 1.

SOFTBALL: Holy Cross’ dream season ends in region round

By Mike Considine

For the second-consecutive year, Holy Cross (23-15-2) established a new standard for its program.

The Knights’ season ended Monday, just shy of the TAPPS Class 4A final four. Fort Bend Christian (25-13) of Sugar Land shut out Holy Cross 6-0 in a region-round game at Texas A&M.

Eagles pitcher Elizabeth Fox limited the Knights to one hit. Holy Cross had scored 13 runs in its previous playoff game.

Fort Bend Christian scored four runs in the third inning and their last two runs in the fourth. The Eagles finished with nine hits.

Holy Cross won the season-opening SAISD Tournament and finished second in the TAPPS 3-4A district tournament.

BASEBALL & SOFTBALL: Senior-led Edison pushes Tivy to brink in 7-6 bi-district loss

Southwest softball bows to New Braunfels Canyon in marquee area series

THIS STORY CONTAINS INFO ABOUT: Edison baseball, Central Catholic baseball and Southwest softball.

FOR A FULL STORY ON THE BURBANK-HAYS BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES (May 3-4, 2013), click here:

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FOR INFO ABOUT: McCollum baseball, South San baseball, Harlandale baseball, Highlands baseball, and East Central softball, click here:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/article/Sports-roundup-4492360.php

By Mike Considine

Baseball

Edison

The Golden Bears (15-15) , the No. 3 seed from District 29-4A, went out like the senior-dominated team they are.

Edison tied the score twice in the early going and rallied for three runs in the seventh Friday at SAISD Field No. 1, but couldn’t extend their Class 4A bi-district series to the limit. Kerrvillle Tivy handed Edison a heart-breaking loss 7-6.

The Golden Bears tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning. Edison also responded in the fourth after the Antlers had broken the tie for a 3-2 lead in the top of the inning. But Tivy again took a one-run lead in the fifth and added three more runs in the top of the seventh.

Edison rallied for three runs of its own to close within a run in the bottom of the inning, but couldn’t score the equalizer. Tivy took the lead on an unearned run.

Kerrville Tivy won the opening game in the best-of-three series 6-0 Thursday in Kerrville.

Antlers pitcher Payeton Becker shut out the Golden Bears, allowing four hits.

Tivy, which had 11 hits, never looked back after scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning in Kerrville. The Antlers increased their lead to 4-0 in the fifth and scored twice in the sixth.

Central Catholic

The Buttons (22-9-1) ended their season last Wednesday with a 6-3 loss at Houston St. Thomas (26-6) in the TAPPS Class 5A area round.

St. Thomas is coached by former Houston Astros all-star Craig Biggio.

Rawlings Elam, Greg Hoffman and Cavan Biggio, the coach’s son, all had two hits for the Eagles. Hunter Pallasch hit a home run and drove in three runs.

Softball

Southwest

New Braunfels Canyon (31-5) closed out the Class 5A area-round battle of two of the best teams in the metroplex, defeating the Dragons (31-7) 8-6 Friday at Southwest.

Canyon, No. 2 in the Express-News area rankings, staked out an eight-run lead in the first five innings behind senior pitcher Marilee Burge. The Cougars took the lead with help from a solo home run by Bianca Prada and a four-run outburst in the fifth.

They had to hold off a furious rally by the Dragons, who seldom lose on their home field, thereafter. No. 4 Southwest began its comeback with senior shortstop Miranda Medina’s 10th home run of the season in the sixth inning.

Trailing 8-2, the Dragons got another home run from catcher Gabby Flores in the seventh. Consecutive doubles from Amanda Sanchez and Elizabeth Phillips, followed by a run-scoring Canyon error brought Southwest within three runs. Freshman Caitlin Terrazas added another run with a two-out, RBI single.

Canyon ended the game on a ground out.

In Game 1, Canyon made it tough on Southwest early. They put up six of seven runs in the bottom of the first.

The Dragons narrowed the gap a bit with single runs in the second and third innings, but Canyon added an insurance run in the bottom of the third. Southwest scored its last two runs in the sixth..

The loss ended Southwest’s five-game winning streak.

SOFTBALL: Holy Cross on cusp of TAPPS state semifinals

By Mike Considine

It was a bold move for TAPPS Class 4A team Holy Cross to schedule tough Class 5A teams like Johnson and Steele earlier this year.

The benefit of facing that level of competition may have been hard to visualize when the Knights were being shut out by lopsided scores. It’s crystal clear now.

Holy Cross (23-14-2) will play Fort Bend Christian (24-13) from Sugar Land 7 p.m. tonight in the TAPPS 4A region round. If they Knights win the game at Texas A&M, they’ll advance to the state semifinals.

“It’s pretty cool stuff,” Holy Cross coach Angel Cedillo said. “The girls have had a good year. We’ve played pretty good teams and been pushed a lot. They’ve learned a lot. Playing that kind of competition is going to either break your spirit, or you’re going to get better.

“In our district, the only team we couldn’t beat was Victoria St. Joseph. We lost to them 3-1 and 5-1, and they were district champions.”

The Knights are the last remaining area baseball or softball squad in the 2013 season week of the playoffs.

“I’m very proud of the progress the team has been making,” Cedillo said. “We’re excited to be playing in the college environment.”

To prepare his team for the crowd and the atmosphere, Cedillo has compared Holy Cross’ chances to those of Milan, Ind. in the movie “Hoosiers.”

In fact, he’s even referenced the tape measure scene, where the team’s coach measures the height of the baskets to reinforce to the players that playing there won’t really be any different than it would be in their home gym.

Of course, the girls had never seen or heard about the movie.

“I tell the seniors that, although they’ve never been there, you can’t take away the things they’ve learned this year,” Cedillo said. “They’re going to be excited, but we want it to be fun.

“We want them to be excited, but we don’t want it to get the best of them.”

Holy Cross is anchored by a core of players that established their playoff credentials last year. It defeated Argyle Liberty Christian 2-1 in the postseason opener before falling 3-1 to Houston St. Pius X in the area round as a Class 5A team.

The Knights have only offered softball for a seven years. Cedillo is in his third season as coach and Holy Cross has only been playing on campus the last two years.

Holy Cross recently played host to its first on-campus playoff game. The Knights have not played since that game, in which they defeated Houston Northland Christian 13-1 April 27 in the area round.

The Knights took control of that game early, scoring 11 runs in the first two innings.

“Coach Ernie Garcia has been with us since the beginning,” Cedillo said of his batting coach. “Our offense has been very, very spotty at times. But in this game, we were hitting very, very well.

“We played a warmup game against Harper, and it wasn’t our best showing. I actually canceled practice the day before the game.”

Cedillo confessed that he used the ploy to make sure his team was in the right frame of mind for the Northland Christian game.

“They looked at me like I was possessed,” he said, “but it helped. It was a 3 p.m. game and they were supposed to (report) at 1 p.m. But when I got there at 12:30, they were already dressed to play. They came out (in the game) and started hitting and running.”

Holy Cross was coming off a second-place finish in the TAPPS 3-4A district tournament. The Knights won their first two games by substantial margins, defeating Corpus Christi Incarnate Word 10-0 and Austin Domenic Savio 12-2. They lost 5-1 to St. Joseph in the title game.

The Knights are experienced team with several seniors playing key roles.

Nicole Gomez is a key offensive player at first base, Brianna Casillas is a defensive standout at second baseman and Sabrina Casas is a converted infielder who has filled a hole in right field. Gomez leads the team wth a whopping 48 RBIs.

“We have some seniors who are fine leaders and strong people,” Cedillo said. “We have three seniors (Gomez, Casillas and Casas) who’ve been with us since freshman year. They stepped up last year.”

Senior Marisa Hernandez (11-3) shares pitching duties with junior Julia Ibarra, when she’s not patrolling center field. Another senior, Gabby Lopez, has taken over at designated hitter and relieved Hernandez of her hitting duties.

“Marisa does two things for us already,” Cedillo said. “Gabby has been contributing by giving us big at-bats for Marisa. She has done a great job in that role.”

Among the underclassmen, Ibarra (12-10) is the team’s primary pitcher and sophomore Marisol Ortega is a defensive wizard at shortstop. Ortega was all-district as a freshman. Ibarra authored the shutout of Incarnate word and limited Northland Christian to two hits.

“Julia throws about 70 percent of the games and she bats second,” Cedillo said. “We just give her the ball and see what she can do that day. We have play good defense, if they want to bunt her. We work hard at it. We take a lot of pride in our defense, and it’s really worked out.”

Despite the long break between games, Holy Cross seems to have kept its edge.

“We’ve had really, really good practices,” Cedillo said. “Fort Bend Christian is a good ballclub. They’ve been whupping the people they’ve played (in the postseason).”

Cedillo wanted the team to get the experience of playing at a college facility. Although he wasn’t thrilled about the day of the week they’ll be playing on, the exposure to a top-flight environment was the over-riding concern for the sake of building the program.

“We tried to find middle ground,” Cedillo said. “This was one of our options. I don’t like to play on Monday. No coach likes to play Monday, but it was the only day the college program has off.”

Fort Bend Christian will be a formidable opponent.

“They have a good pitcher and catcher,” Cedillo said. “Their pitcher throws the ball really well and she keeps the ball where it needs to be thrown. Their strength is that they’re so utterly solid.

“Our kids know what they need to do. It’s execution. We have to have a little of that. It’s going to come down to which team executes more effectively.”

After a strong showing in the playoffs last year and great performances to date in the postseason this year, the Knights coach believes his team is ready for the challenge.

“We want the girls to get after them,” Cedillo said. “They’re excited, and they really want to be there. We’re one step away from the Final Four.

“They’re close, and they’re good enough to get there. It’s just a matter of believing it themselves.”

BOYS BASKETBALL: Thornton takes hoop dreams to California

Sam Houston senior Isaac Thornton has accepted a scholarship offer from San Jose State University, the school’s website reported Friday. Thornton, a Class 3A all-state player, averaged 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds while leading the Hurricanes to the Region IV finals. He was selected as the District 28-3A most valuable player as a junior and as a senior at Sam Houston.

He was an Express-News all-area selection this year.

“Isaac embodies everything I want in a student-athlete,” first-year SJSU coach Dave Wojcik said in a statement on the San Jose, Calif. school’s website. “He is a terrific person, student and basketball player. He is a very athletic and skilled guard who is able to score with his jump shot or take it to the basket.

“Isaac will represent the San Jose State basketball program, the university and the community exceptionally well. I am delighted that Isaac will be a part of the San Jose State family.”

Thornton is the third player to sign with San Jose State for the 2013-14 season. SJSU is a NCAA Division I school which currently competes in the Western Athletic Conference along with the University of Texas-San Antonio.

BASEBALL & SOFTBALL: complete local playoff results 2013

NOTE: teams we cover are in boldface

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

Monday’s game

SOFTBALL

TAPPS Class 4A

Regional

Sugar Land Ft. Bend Christian Academy (25-13) 6, Holy Cross (23-15-2) 0 (Ft. Bend Christian advances)

APRIL 28-MAY 4 SCHEDULE

Saturday’s games

BASEBALL

Class 4A

Bi-district

Gregory-Portland (23-7-1)  12,  McCollum (22-6) 2 (best-of-three series, Gregory-Portland advances 2-0)

Friday’s games

BASEBALL

Class 5A

Bi-district

O’Connor (25-4-2) 1, South San (16-15-1) 0 (O’Connor advances)

Class 4A

Bi-district

Victoria East (26-13) 8, Harlandale (13-13) 2  (Victoria East advances)

Kerrville Tivy (23-7-1) 7, Edison (14-15) 6 (best-of-three series, Kerrville Tivy advances 2-0)

Clemens (20-8-2) 13, Highlands (8-18) 0 (Clemens advances)

Hays (19-9) 9, Burbank (12-16) 7 (best-of-three series, Hays advances 2-0)

SOFTBALL

Class 5A

Bi-district

New Braunfels Canyon (31-5) 8, Southwest (31-7) 6 (best-of-three series, New Braunfels Canyon advances 2-0)

Thursday’s games

BASEBALL

Class 4A

Bi-district

Hays (18-9) 10, Burbank (12-15) 1 (best-of-three series, Hays leads series 1-0)

Gregory-Portland (22-7-1) 10, McCollum (22-5) 4 (best-of-three series, Gregory-Portland leads series 1-0)

Kerrville Tivy (21-7-1) 6, Edison (14-13) 0 (best-of-three series, Kerrville Tivy leads series 1-0)

SOFTBALL

Class 5A

Area

Smithson Valley (21-7) 17, East Central (21-12) 2 (Smithson Valley wins series)

New Braunfels Canyon (30-5) 7,  Southwest (31-6) 4 (best-of-three series, New Braunfels Canyon leads series 1-0)

Wednesday’s games

BASEBALL

TAPPS Class 5A

Area

Houston St. Thomas (26-6) 6, Central Catholic (22-9-1)  3

Monday’s games

SOFTBALL

Class 5A

Bi-district

Southwest (31-5) 12, Brandeis (20-9) 3 (completion of game suspended Saturday; Southwest wins best-of-three series 2-0)

.

APRIL 21-27 SCHEDULE

Saturday’s games

SOFTBALL

Class 5A

Bi-district

Southwest (30-5) vs. Brandeis (20-8) at Villarreal Field No. 1, (best-of-three series, Southwest leads 1-0) (postponed to Monday)

Class 4A

Bi-district

Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway (22-8) 2, Harlandale (14-11) 0 (Tuloso-Midway advances)

Friday’s games

SOFTBALL

Class 5A

Bi-district

Southwest (30-5) 8, Brandeis (20-8) 4 (best-of-three series, Southwest leads 1-0)

East Central (21-11) 7, Warren (15-12-2) 3 (East Central advances)

Class 4A

Bi-district

Lockhart (24-13) 7, Brackenridge (14-16-1) 0 at NEISD East Field, 6 p.m. (Lockhart advances)

Clemens (24-8) 6, Edison (14-16-2) 0 (Clemens advances)

Hays (26-4-1) 12, Jefferson (13-15) 0 (Hays advances)