The Lady Trojans came through in the clutch to dispose of the Mercedes Lady Tigers in two straight games (8-4, 1-0) in Kingsville to advance into the regional softball quarterfinals this Friday night against Robstown. The next round will be a one-game, winner-take-all, affair at 7:30 p.m. at the Lady Cotton Pickers’ home field.
“We coaches are real proud of the girls. It was a great display of mental toughness. We kept our composure and we played as a team,” said Lady Trojan head coach Adolfo Dominguez.
After two scoreless innings, the Lady Trojans broke the first game open with three runs in the bottom of the third. Mari Garza singled to open the frame and moved to third on a single off the bat of Mel Gonzalez. Courtesy runner J.J. Hernandez came in for the Lady Trojan pitcher Gonzalez and promptly stole second base. Another passed ball plated Garza with the first run of the contest and moved Hernandez to third. Hernandez drew a throw from the Lady Tiger catcher Crishele Gonzalez that hit the Beeville runner in the back and skipped into foul territory down the left field line. Hernandez scampered in for a 2-0 JHS advantage. Two outs later the Lady Trojans continued the rally as Kasha Clay blasted a double to left to put her in scoring position. Audrey Dominguez brought her home on a single, but was caught trying to stretch the hit a little too far at third for the final out of the inning. The three-run rally put the Lady Trojans in front and took a little wind out of the Lady Tigers.
Three more Beeville runs came across in the fourth with the big blow a two-run double from Renee Treviño. She knocked in Garza and courtesy-runner Brianna Folsom. Both Garza and Beeville hurler Gonzalez reached on base hits to begin the inning. An infield hit by Clay and a subsequent throwing error on the play allowed Treviño to score the Lady Trojans’ third run of the frame to move out to a 6-0 advantage in the contest.
Mercedes scored twice in the top of the fifth with a two-out rally. Two straight singles and three stolen bases along with one error cost the Lady Trojans two runs in the inning. Entering the bottom half of the fifth it was a little closer at 6-2, but the Lady Trojans weren’t done yet. Beeville scored two more in the fifth to make it 8-2 going into the final two innings. Casandra Rodriguez led off the fifth for Beeville with a double. Garza was hit by a pitch to put two Lady Trojans on base. Treviño singled to knock in Rodriguez and then Amber Contreras hit a RBI single that scored Garza.
The Lady Tigers scored single runs in both the sixth and seventh, but it was too little, too late as the Lady Trojans captured game one of the best of three series, 8-4.
Rodriguez, Garza, Gonzalez, Treviño and Clay all contributed to the win with two hits on the night. Contreras and Dominguez both collected one hit. Gonzalez pitched a complete game, striking out seven and allowing just four hits in picking up her 20th win of the season and helping the Lady Trojans up their record to 24-5 on the year.
Despite all the hitting and scoring of game one, game two turned into a pitchers’ duel. It wasn’t just three-up and three-down, though. Both sides threatened throughout the contest and it came down to a passed ball in the top of the sixth for the first and only run of the game to come across the plate.
Gonzalez was again in the circle for the JHS girls and she was going up against Alyssa Martinez, game one’s Lady Tiger shortstop. Martinez and Gonzalez both benefited from the play of their defenses. The Lady Trojans put runners in scoring position in all seven innings, but could not get the timely hit or a Mercedes error to get a run across the plate. That changed in the top of the sixth. A two-out walk to Clay got things started. Dominguez executed perfectly on a hit and run play that pushed Clay easily to third base. A Martinez pitch got away from Mercedes catcher Gonzalez and Clay dashed for home. The play at the plate was close but Clay slid under the waiting Martinez, who was guarding the plate, and the throw went past her as Clay was called safe.
The Lady Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but a pop fly that was hauled in by second baseman Contreras put an end to the rally without a run being scored. The Lady Trojans threatened in the top of the seventh, but a inning-ending double play kept the contest at 1-0. Mercedes had just one last chance to tie or win the game and force a game three.
The first Lady Tiger popped to Beeville hurler Gonzalez. The next two went down on strikes as Gonzalez rang up her fourth and fifth strikeouts of the contest to preserve the 1-0 victory and a sweep.
“Mercedes had several opportunities to score, however, we found ways to get outs and that is what you need if you are going to win games during the playoffs,” said coach Dominguez.