Lyford primed for rematch with Santa Gertudis

LYFORD — Two years ago, Lyford met Santa Gertudis in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals. The Lady Lions ended Lyford’s season that year, and now both clubs are set for their rematch this weekend in Round 3.

In 2017, Santa Gertudis lost in the state final to Little River Academy. In 2018, Santa Gertrudis won the UIL state championship with an 8-3 win over Hughes Springs.

Needless to say, Lyford will have its hands full this weekend when it takes on the defending state champs in a best-of-three series starting Friday at Edcouch Elsa, with the first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. Game 2 will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, and, if needed, Game 3 will follow 30 minutes after Game 2. Both games will be played at Freer.

“Knowing that they are the district champs and defending state champs,” Lyford coach Joey Rios said. “Playing them in the past and us knowing that we would meet up in the third round, we knew that there would be some bumps in the road and this is one of them, and now we have a choice. Its either we get over the hump or we fold.”

There are three players on the roster who were on that 2017 team. Karla Medina, Jerrica Rojas and Jessica Cruz were on that team, and they got a taste of the third round.

“Now that we know they won state and we are a bit older now, we feel that we can compete with them,” Rojas said. “Honestly, I feel this is one of the biggest series of my career. We are undefeated, and I’m positive if we can play our game we like we have been we can get it done.”

Rio Hondo, meanwhile, is back in the third round for a third straight year. The Lady Bobcats will tangle with Sinton in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals in a best-of-three series starting at 7 p.m. Friday in Rio Hondo.

Games 2 and 3 will be played at Sinton. Game 2 will be at 5 p.m., and, if needed, Game 3 will follow 30 minutes after.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to raise our game yet again,” Rio Hondo coach Brett Esparza said. “Our kids have shown outstanding resolve and are a dugout full of believers.”

Sinton enters the series having never played Rio Hondo in the postseason. The Lady Pirates, like Rio Hondo, won their district and enter the series on a roll. Sinton managed to sweep Raymondville during the first round and followed it with a sweep of La Vernia over the weekend.

“Sinton has played very well and consistently throughout the season,” Esparza said. “So we have to be this new intense, focused and relentless team that has gradually grown stronger here in Rio Hondo.”

Harlingen South will square off against PSJA North in what will be a Valley regional quarterfinal matchup. The best-of-three series will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at PSJA North. Game 2 will be at 5 p.m. Saturday at Harlingen South, and Game 3 will follow 30 minutes after if needed.

The Lady Raiders have been the Cinderella story this postseason. PSJA North is in unfamiliar territory under first-year coach Stephanie Lugo. The Lady Raiders swept Laredo Alexander during the first round, and followed it by edging perennial power Weslaco High in three games.

“They have a lot of speed as a team,” South coach Elias Martinez said. “We need to neutralize their team speed when they get on base. That is one thing they do well, and they also have a lot of power. They present a lot of different challenges to us, and now it’s just a matter of executing during the game and (seeing) who can handle the pressure and can make the routine play.”

The Lady Hawks are back in the third round for a third straight year and are looking to get back to the Sweet 16 for the second time in the past three years.