Seniors have helped pave the way for Rio Hondo

RIO HONDO—Fresh off their bi-district title, the Rio Hondo Lady Bobcats are alive and well in the second week of the state softball playoffs.

The Lady Cats bounced Rockport-Fulton 12-5 this past Friday thanks to a bevy of offense and stellar pitching.

Rio Hondo’s core of five seniors has tasted success all four years with a district title each season. This year, the senior group won its second bi-district title and is aiming for an area crown. The last time they claimed both a bi-district and area title was during their freshmen season.

“It means a lot for these seniors to win another district title and bi-district title, but not only to them but our program overall.” said Rio Hondo coach Brett Esparza. “It’s great to send them out on a high note, whenever that might be. This group knows how to play together and it has shown. I think as a team we are clicking at the right time.”

Shortstop Alexa Castellanos, second baseman Kaila Zepeda, center fielder Tianna Sandoval, and pitchers Miranda Martinez and Jennifer Flores make up the senior class.

The duo of Martinez and Flores combined for an ERA under 2.00 throughout the season, while both pitchers amassed 109 strikeouts.

“We pick each other up,” said Flores. “I know if I’m having a bad game Miranda will pick me up and the same goes with me. We work well together and we both know our defense will make plays when we need them to.”

Sandoval patrols center field and bats leadoff. She is second on the team in average batting .597 and has 46 hits, which also ranks second.

“This season has been great; our team chemistry is there and we know how to pump each other up,” said Sandoval. “We know this week will be tough; the pitching will be faster, but we just need to have quick hands and we will be fine.”

The middle infield consists of Castellanos and Zepeda.

“To see how far we’ve come is something special,” said Castellanos. “We started out hungry and continued to push each year; that has never stopped. Being able to grow with this group of girls has been something special. We want to continue the tradition here at Rio Hondo, we want our program to be out there and for people to know what Rio Hondo softball is.”

Rio Hondo will shift its focus to Somerset in the Class 4A area round. The Lady Bobcats will play in a one-game playoff at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Calallen High School.

“At this point everyone is going to get better, as the playoffs go on,” said Esparza. “They (Somerset) beat a solid Devine team last week. Their entire district is still in the playoffs, so it’s going to be a challenge. Offensively we hit the ball well. Rockport came in ready to go so much credit to them. We’re excited to be in this position and we have an idea on what Somerset will present.”