The Lyford Lady Bulldogs are alive and well in the 2019 softball playoffs.
After a convincing bi-district win over Corpus Christi London last week, Lyford will be faced with a few new challenges at 7 tonight as it kicks off its best of three series against Mathis in the Class 3A area round.
Game 2 will be played at 7 p.m. Friday, and, if needed, Game 3 will be played at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, with the series being played at Cabaniss Field in Corpus Christi.
The first task will be adjusting to a turf field. Lyford has played on turf once this season and took its practice to La Villa earlier this week to get accustomed to the turf.
“We played against Roma earlier this season, and that was the only turf field we played on this season,” Lyford coach Joey Rios said. “We were able to practice at La Villa, and that is about it. The kids noticed the ball had some more bite to it and jumped a little more, but they responded well and we took a lot of defensive reps. The kids really enjoyed working and sliding on the turf, but overall it was a good session for us.”
Mathis, meanwhile, is coming off a sweep against Dilley in which the Lady Pirates outscored their opponent 25-2 in their best of three series.
Despite Lyford moving up a few days, the change of pace did not affect the Lady ’Dogs’ mentality.
“Honestly, I left it up to the girls,” Rios said. “We all sat down and had a conversation, the girls felt they waited too long and were ready to go. They just want to get out there and play ball, and we feel the sooner the better, and the kids are fired up about the opportunity.”
Harlingen South, meanwhile, will prepare for a best-of-three series against Eagle Pass in the area round.
The series begins at 7 p.m. Friday. Game 2 will be played at 3 p.m. Saturday, and, if needed, Game 3 will follow 30 minutes after Game 2. All games will be played at Sinton.
The Lady Hawks are back in the area round for a third straight year under fourth-year coach Elias Martinez and are looking for a third straight trip to the third round.
South will have its hands full when it squares off against the Lady Eagles. Eagle Pass is coming off a sweep against La Joya High. Both offenses could provide some fireworks, with Eagle Pass’ offense scoring in double digits in seven of its past eight games.
“Right now, we are all happy to be playing softball and we are upbeat,” South skipper Elias Martinez said. “We are getting healthy and feeling good.”
Martinez has history with Eagle Pass. In his time as the coach in San Benito, Martinez faced the Lady Eagles in 2013, in the third round of the playoffs.
“When I was in San Benito we played Eagle Pass a lot, and I know their coach well,” Martinez said. “We have an idea on what they like to do. From what we have seen this year, they are doing things they have always done. They are a power team and have speed on the bases, and their pitching is good. They are a sound club.”
San Benito, meanwhile, will be in its second one-game playoff in as many weeks. The Lady Greyhounds slugged past Edinburg High last week and will need their offense to swing away when they meet Laredo United in an area matchup at 6 p.m. Friday at Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway.
The Lady Longhorns’ offense has provided plenty of runs during the past few weeks. United enters Friday’s game on a three-game winning streak dating to its regular-season finale, a 16-9 win over Del Rio.
United outscored McAllen Memorial 27-1 in two games and will look to carry that over into the area round. Look for San Benito’s offense to counter with the young bats of Jordan Ramos and Jaeylnn Huerta.
Brownsville Veterans Memorial will meet Corpus Christi Calallen in a best-of-three series in the Class 5A area round.
The series kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday at Brownsville Veterans, and the series then shifts to Calallen with Game 2 scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Friday and Game 3, if needed, following 20 minutes after Game 2.
“It is basically managing the pitching situation to be able to extend it to three games,” Lady Chargers coach Rayner Cardenas said. “That is really the logistics for us on having a one-gamer to a series. It is just a matter of handling the innings and who gets Game 1, 2 and 3. Other than that, everything else is the same.”
Calallen enters the series as a well-tested ballclub, having faced tough competition throughout the regular season.
“From top to bottom, they will be one of the best teams we have played this year,” Cardenas said. “We have played some good competition this season at the College Station tournament and in Laredo, but from what we have seen they rank right up there with some of the best teams in the state.”
During last week’s bi-district win over Sharyland High, the Lady Chargers roared out to a five-run first inning and seven-run second. Brownsville Veterans is hoping for another fast start to help give senior ace Mia Anzaldua some run support.
“I think the key for us is to scratch off some runs early and get that pressure off of us, and for us to get into our game,” Cardenas said. “Our job is to score runs in order to win and for Mia to do her job in the circle, and it will help set the tone early if we are able to get some runs early and will give us confidence.”
Rio Hondo will take on Pearsall in the area round. Their best-of-three series begins at 8 p.m. Friday. Game 2 is scheduled for 5 p.m., and Game 3, if needed, will follow 30 minutes after Game 2. All games will be played at Alice.
“The key for us is to play with tempo,” Rio Hondo coach Brett Esparza said. “Our kids play better when they play with urgency, and when the tempo can run high that works into our favor, and being aggressive at the plate and in the circle as well, it’s a matter of us getting ahead in the count.”
Rio Hondo edged Orange Grove in three games this past weekend and will be up against another tough opponent in the Lady Mavericks, who are coming off a sweep against Pleasanton in bi-district.
“We just assume that anyone that gets into the playoffs is a quality softball team,” Esparza said. “Last week they showed the ability to score 11 runs and then win a low-scoring game, so we need to be prepared. One thing I have learned is to perfect what you do and play quality defense, and (have) timely hitting. You will be in business.”