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BI-DISTRICT SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS
PEARSALL OVERCOMES ROUGH START, WINS TWO STRAIGHT IN AREA PLAYOFF SERIES TO TOP ZAPATA.
Pearsall’s area playoff series against Zapata started out horribly but ended in sweet victory as the Lady Mavs earned a 3-1 decision in Saturday’s third and deciding game to take the series two games to one in Freer.
The Lady Mavs advance to face Alice this week in a regional quarterfinal series in Kenedy.
“This playoff series against Zapata was a great display of the resilience of this year’s Lady Mavs softball team,” PHS Head Coach Melissa Sanchez said. “Zapata got a jump start on us, capitalizing on some of our defensive errors. The girls fought back, but unfortunately came up short [in game one].
“We regrouped and reset, then came back strong, winning the final two games in the series. This group of ladies have proven to be a hard team to keep down and a hard team to beat.”
Pearsall dropped a painful 9-8 decision in the series opener on Thursday, then tied things up with a 5-4 win in eight innings on Friday. The Lady Mavs then cruised to a 3-1 decision on Saturday afternoon to clinch the area title.
The series got off to a rocky start for the Lady Mavs, however, as the team allowed eight runs at the top of the first inning in the opener. The team would regroup in that outing and went on to allow only six runs over the course of the next two games, combined.
The Lady Mavs fought back from the 8-0 deficit to cut it to 8-5 at the end of the first. After a scoreless second, Pearsall added two more runs in the third as Alytris Rodriguez hit a solo homerun over the left field wall. Anisty Martinez singled to score another run in the inning but a baserunning error by a teammate at third nullified the score and ended the inning.
A two-out RBI single extended the Zapata lead to 9-6 at the top of the fifth. Pearsall stranded two runners on base in the sixth and in their final at-bat, Maddie Bradley hammered a two-run homerun to once again cut the Zapata lead to a single run but it would not be enough in the one-run loss.
Having settled their pitching and defense, Pearsall played a much more disciplined contest in the second game on Friday and eventually earned a tough 5-4 decision in eight innings.
In a pitching battle between Pearsall’s Kristen Morales and Zapata’s Claudia Garza, it was the Lady Mavs’ offense that seemed to be on the verge of breaking out at any moment. Ebony Garza drew a walk followed by singles from Morales and Sophie Garza to load the bases in the first with one out. A strikeout and pop out, however, ended the threat.
Pearsall allowed a runner on base in the second but then quickly forced three outs. Both teams would maintain the pace through the fourth. At the bottom of the fourth, first baseman Maddie Bradley belted a booming shot over the centerfield wall for a solo homerun and a 1-0 Lady Mavs’ lead.
Zapata, the District 32-4A champions, would answer in the fifth as they loaded the bases and scored once on a single to tie things up 1-1. Pearsall’s defense would respond, however, working out of the one-out, bases loaded jam with two defensive outs to avoid further damage.
The team then broke the game open at the bottom of the fifth as Ebony Garza beat the throw to first for a single and Morales belted a stand-up double to put runners on second and third. Deranda Talamantes then drilled the game-winning double, scoring Garza and Morales and putting Pearsall ahead 3-1.
In Zapata’s final at-bat, shortstop Ebony Garza made a diving grab of a line-drive shot for the first out. Morales, who moved to third as Sophie Garza came to pitch in relief duty, scooped up a soft grounder and threw to first for the second out. Ebony then hauled in another grounder and made the throw to Bradley at first for the game-securing third out.
“I commend the Zapata Lady Hawks for giving us such a great series last week and look forward to playing the Alice Lady Coyotes this week,” Sanchez said after the win. “I would like to thank the parents and community for coming out and showing the Lady Mavs how much you support us.”
The series win and regional quarterfinal berth marked the first for Pearsall since the 2010 season. Pearsall has twice won regional quarterfinal championships, once in 2003 and another in 2005.
The Lady Mavs will return to Joe Gulley Park in Kenedy this week as they host the Alice Lady Coyotes in a regional quarterfinal series. Alice is the second straight district champion Pearsall has faced in the playoffs. Game one is set for Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. Game two is on Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m. and a third game, if needed is set for Saturday, May 13 at 2 p.m.
The Lady Coyotes are 27-8 this season and were 9-1 district champions. The team is currently ranked fourth in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A rankings. Alice took on Zapata in a non-district contest this season and claimed a 1-0 victory over the Lady Hawks on March 13.