CORPUS CHRISTI — Harlingen South flexed its muscles and won back-to-back games to bolt down a Class 6A regional quarterfinal series win Saturday afternoon against South San Antonio at Cabaniss Field.
The Lady Hawks will now face San Antonio Brennan in the regional semifinals later this week.
After taking a thrilling 8-7 win in Game 2, the Lady Hawks held on for a 4-3 Game 3 victory as South San had runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh.
After the final out, there was question as to whether a ball that was hit to third base was fair or foul. It was ruled fair, sending the Lady Hawks and their fans into a euphoric frenzy.
“The umpires made the right call. It was fair and we knew that,” said South coach Elias Martinez. “That’s Lady Hawk softball at its finest. Last night didn’t go our way, but we don’t wilt under pressure.
“Today we had to come out and win two, and our girls fought until the bitter end. They always believe in each other and today was one to remember. They (South San) won their district and we knew it would be tough, but I told our girls we can play with anybody. Playing in District 32-6A helped us prepare for the playoffs. Our girls just don’t know the word quit and that has shown all season.”
After three scoreless innings to start Game 3, the Lady Green Birds broke things open with a three-run fourth inning. Kaitlynn De La Fuente got the inning going with a leadoff single. The Lady Hawks followed with consecutive RBI doubles from Kayla Rogers and Kelsey Rivera giving them a 3-0 advantage.
Harlingen South relied on the arms of Krystal Gonzales and De La Fuente, who took turns as both catcher and pitcher.
De La Fuente kept the Lady Bobcats’ bats silent with five shutout innings while scattering four hits. The duo fought off the heat and gutted out a valiant effort.
De La Fuente showed her versatility by starting game 1 and 2 in center field and played both catcher and pitcher in Game 3.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said De La Fuente. “This is amazing how we came back and won both games. I’m exhausted; it was defiantly a hot one today, but we didn’t use that as an excuse. I knew Krystal and I had each other’s backs, and we did a good job on picking each other up.”
South San Antonio rebounded with a three-run sixth inning that tied the score at 3-3. However, in the top of the seventh, South regained a 4-3 lead after Katana Muniz scored on a fielder’s choice.
Muniz, a freshman, had quite the series, batting 4 for 10 with two runs, two doubles and a triple.
Senior Ashley Reyna, who went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles in Game 2, went 0 for 3 in the third game, but still checked in a 3 for 9 series.
“As a senior, making it to the Sweet 16 is the best feeling,” said Reyna. “We never gave up and we just kept playing. I felt good all series at the plate and I thought I saw the ball well. We’re excited to keep playing softball and none of us is ready to turn in our stuff.”