It was kind of like the BCS in college football: losing early in the season is better than doing it late, for the rankings. As Edinburg went against Brownsville Hanna Monday at home, the Lady Bobcats suffered their nightmare first, and it ended up being less horrible than Hanna’s.
After falling behind 8-2 and then 9-4 with a quartet of fielding errors and a couple of mental gaffes, EHS rallied for 12 runs in the fourth, thanks to shoddy Lady Eagle defense but also to a dominant batting performance. The result was a 17-9 win for the Lady ‘Cats, who were 3-2 heading into the La Joya Tournament Thursday.
Coach Jesse Banda shuffled his field unit around a bit after a series of boots on routine plays gave the Lady Eagles enough momentum to plate four runs in each of the first two frames.
“I wanted to send a message to the girls that we’re looking for people who can make the plays under pressure,” said Banda, a fierce presence who spares neither criticism nor praise of his charges. “Once we made some changes and started hitting, it got a lot better for us.”
Strapping junior Sarina Rios started on the hill for EHS, fresh off a shutout victory over Weslaco East in the Mission Tourney. She threw well enough but the infield committed errors at second and third early on, and the scrappy Lady Eagles took advantage, building an 8-2 lead through two.
The home side got two back in the bottom of the first on a solid hit by freshman Anyssa Gonzalez, who had a monster game with four hits, five runs, and four RBI, coming off a quad pull that kept her out of the action in Mission.
But the big inning was No. 4, when Banda’s Bombers sent nine to the dish without making an out. Down 9-4, the Lady ‘Cats slammed Hanna pitching for nine hits in the frame, and there were three errors to aid the cause.
The big blows were a bases-loaded double from Gonzalez and a bases-clearing triple by Rios, who was 3 for 3 with three RBI. Seventeen kids batted in the fourth inning.
The huge outburst made a winner of soph Leeanne Hinojosa, who had relieved Rios with two outs in the top half of the inning, getting a fly ball to center for the third out with the sacks juiced.
She went on to retire the last nine hitters with ease, fanning four, and contributed three hits at the plate to boot. Infielder Mariah Ozuna drove in four while shortstop Tory DeLeon continued her flawless play in the field and scored three times while socking two base hits.
“We got some clutch hits and our fielding got better,” Banda said. “We just had to settle down out there and make the easy plays. We have the comeback capability this season, we showed that tonight.”
NOTES: EHS (6-3) won third place at the La Joya Tournament over the weekend with a 5-3 decision over Harlingen. The Lady ‘Cats knocked off San Benito on Saturday before beating the Lady Cards.
North (8-1) has allowed just 11 runs all season, and captured the championship at its softball tourney Saturday, avenging a loss last year to Mission, 8-0 over the Lady Eagles.