Runs came early and often for the San Marcos in Friday night’s Class 5A bi-district playoff game against San Antonio-Churchill, allowing the Lady Rattlers to score their first playoff win in two years with a 7-5 victory at San Antonio’s Northeast Softball Complex.
San Marcos never trailed after opening the game with two runs in the top of first and three more in the third. Additional runs in the fourth and fifth innings proved to be just enough to hold off Churchill’s powerful lineup.
“One advantage of being visitor, you have the opportunity to come out and put runs on the board, put pressure on them and force them in a defensive posture before they even have a chance to hit,” SMHS head softball coach Cathy Stoughton-McBride said. “We did that tonight.”
San Marcos also benefited by hustling down the base line for numerous infield singles, and also came through with several heads-up defensive plays late in the game.
Sophomore second baseman Ellie Hernandez led the Lady Rattlers at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI doubles, while a starting a 4-5-6 double play after bobbling a grounder and catching Churchill base runners off guard.
“She has been struggling offensively, so we put her in the six hole just to take some pressure off her and maybe see some better pitches, and she hit the ball tonight as hard as I have seen her hit in a long time,” Stoughton-McBride said. “She has been working hard on her cut this week and really came through big tonight.”
Gabby Guerrero also came through with a poignant play in center field, alertly gunning out Churchill’s Aspen Shade who was trying to stretch a single into a double after Guerrero fumbled with the ball in the outfield.
“Those are the type of plays you have to make to win at this level,” Stoughton-McBride said.
Freshman pitcher Victoria Vasquez gave up five runs on 10 hits, but was able to work her way out of several jams, particularly in the bottom of the seventh. Churchill trimmed San Marcos’ lead to two with a run and had runners at the corners with two outs. Vasquez struck out Breanna Smith to end the game.
With the win, San Marcos advances to face San Antonio-O’Connor in an area playoff Friday at a site and time to be determined.
San Marcos wasted no time getting on the board with two runs off three hits in the top of the first. Stephanie Marmolejo led off with a walk, followed be a well-hit single from Mariah Delgado. Rene Contreras followed with a 2-run single into right field, giving SMHS an early 2-0 lead.
The Lady Chargers countered with Kyliegh Allie’s RBI double in the bottom of the first, before San Marcos tacked on three runs in the third.
Hernandez’ double off the left-field wall scored Vianey Villalpando, as a Lady Charger error allowed Hernandez to score. Vasquez gave SMHS a 5-1 lead with an RBI infield single to third base.
Churchill’s Taylor Anderson cut the lead to 5-2 with a RBI single in the bottom of the third, before Hernandez hit her second RBI double in the top of the fourth, handing SMHS a 6-2 lead.
Contreras pushed her third RBI of the game across with a sacrifice bunt in the fifth, as Churchill posted a solo homer from Anderson and a RBI single from Grace Tritchler, cutting the lead to 7-4.
The Lady Chargers tried to rally back with a run in the seventh, but Vasquez and the SMHS defense held tight, getting out of the inning for the win.
San Marcos collected a total of 15 hits off the Lady Chargers.
“We had some jitters and made some mistakes but the way the girls hit the ball and Victoria pitching strong offset those mistakes,” Stoughton-McBride said.