Slow start allows Lake Travis to take district opener against Lady Rattlers
San Marcos can’t make many mistakes if it wants to be competitive.
On Tuesday night, San Marcos welcomed Lake Travis, a top-10 team from the Austin area and District 26-6A playoff team from a year ago, onto its home field for the district opener.
After a three-run second inning by Lake Travis, San Marcos played them evenly but the deficit was too much to overcome in a 6-3 loss to the Lady Cavaliers at Rattler Softball Diamond.
“We made a couple of costly errors,” head coach Cathy Stoughton said. “Overall, they just out-hit us. I think they had 10 or 11 hits and we had eight, and their hits were a little more timely than ours. We stranded a few baserunners tonight, but I told the girls, this is as patient and disciplined as we’ve been at the plate in a long time. They kept the energy going, they brought intensity. We were just a few hits and maybe one or two defensive miscues short of being right there with them and having a tie ballgame.”
On the first hit of the game by the Cavaliers, the hosts showed off their defensive prowess with a relay from junior centerfield CJ Castilla to the cutoff — sophomore second baseman Brycelyn Pinales — who threw it to third baseman McKeanne Saenz before the runner could slide to third.
The second inning was much different as Lake Travis (4-1, 1-0 district) loaded the bases with two outs and a walk by starting pitcher Kayli Saenz awarded the visitors with their first run of the night. They followed that up with back-to-back hits that led to two more runs scored. Saenz was relieved by senior pitcher Mercedes Layton, who got the Rattlers out of a jam by striking out the first batter she saw.
The damage was already done as San Marcos (3-7, 0-1) trailed 3-0 and followed that up with a scoreless bottom of the second. Stoughton said this year’s team will have to be mistake-free as they play tougher opponents.
“We can play with anybody but we obviously can’t make as many mistakes,” Stoughton said. “You don’t ever want to make mistakes in a game but we have a smaller margin for error.”
Layton did a good job containing the black and red offense in the third inning and that gave the Lady Rattlers some hope as Castilla recorded an RBI single which cut the lead to 3-1.
With two outs again, San Marcos surrendered a hard hit to left field that brought in two more runs for Lake Travis as they took a 5-1 advantage. All night, the Rattlers struggled with two outs on the board and getting out of the inning.
“They definitely need to shut down the inning,” Stoughton said. “We need to make sure that we make those pitches so that when we have two outs we’re taking advantage of it. My zone just went from here to here because that hitter’s knowing there’s two outs, she’s going to try to make something happen. I might be a little more flexible, where I can throw the ball and I think we got a little too much of the plate tonight with two outs.”
The hosts took advantage of a passed ball that allowed a runner to cross the plate for their second run of the night. However, Lake Travis negated that with a home run in the bottom of the sixth. San Marcos did score once in the final inning but it wasn’t enough to make a comeback as the team fell 6-3 at home.
San Marcos takes a short break from district play when it travels to San Antonio for a matchup with Veterans Memorial (2-4, 0-1) this Friday at 7 p.m. It’ll be the second time the Lady Rattlers and Lady Patriots have met this season with Veterans Memorial snatching the first meeting, 7-1, on Feb. 19.
Stoughton described this team’s differences from years past and how they view themselves diving into the long season ahead of them.
“I think this team is a sleeper,” Stoughton said. “I think because we struggled so much last year with injuries, we’ve got some young girls. We have two sophomores that have stepped up and played some shortstop for us, and we’re hungry. We have a good solid team. We can play with anybody. This year I’ve got a good problem. I’ve got some good ballplayers who are on the bench.”