Behind their youth, Lyford continues historic season

LYFORD—After last year’s loss in the bi-district round of the playoffs, the Lyford Lady Bulldogs were at a crossroads.

A young and up and coming club would need to regroup and prepare for next season.

That time has come and Lyford has responded quite well with a 25-0 record with just five games remaining and a perfect regular season isn’t too farfetched.

“That playoff loss left a bad taste in our mouth,” Lyford coach Joey Rios said. “We took the first game and then dropped two straight. It is tough having to flip the switch when we head into the playoffs, but it is very humbling that when we get to the playoffs, everyone is a contender.”

“All In” is the 2019 motto in Lyford.

The two words carry weight around the Lady Bulldogs’ clubhouse and the results have shown.

Lyford has welcomed in a strong crop of freshman who have quickly adapted to their roles at the varsity level. The starting nine has four starting freshman, three juniors and two sophomores.

“We have had a few of these younger girls on our radar and coming into the season on that first day, you can feel the intensity and competitiveness,” Rios said. “There is communication all the way around and I had a talk with them about empowering on and off the field. When they step through that gate, they are ready to work.”

Juniors Jerrica Rojas, who is the clubs ace in the circle, can also play third base along with Jessica Cruz, who plays catcher.

Both players have provided the club with a wealth of experience and have become vocal leaders on and off the field.

“When I was a freshman, I was a little iffy and scared on coming up to the varsity with all the seniors,” Rojas said. “Now that I’m older, I want to do the same for the younger girls just the way the seniors did for me. I want to make them feel comfortable and want them to know we are here if they ever need anything.”

Cruz, meanwhile, has been a mainstay for Lyford behind the plate, calling balls and strikes with mastery.

“Ever since our sophomore year, it has been our class that has stepped in and have become the leaders,” Cruz said. “When we come together, our defense is solid and we hardly make errors and at the plate, we have a strong lineup and we have depth.”

“At the start of the season, the pressure did get to me, with the new group coming up and knowing I had to lead,” Cruz added. “But I have taken the roll to where I will be there for my team no matter what. That is my mentality.”

The quest for another district title and a perfect regular season continues tonight at home against Idea Quest, with the first pitch set for 6:00 p.m.

“I have never been on a team that has gone undefeated,” Rojas said. “I’m so proud of my team and we are all so humble about it. Our team is having so much fun because of the bond we have created. We had some ups and downs but along the way we knew chemistry would be a key for us to make a playoff run and we have that down.”