Three Rio Grande Valley softball teams are alive in the 2019 playoffs and two of them, are from the lower valley.
Rio Hondo and Harlingen South are back in the Sweet 16 for the second time in the last three years.
Both clubs will enter the Sweet 16 with a best-of-three series on the horizon.
Harlingen South will meet a familiar opponent in New Braunfels Canyon, with Game 1 scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night. Game 2 will begin at 5 p.m. and, if needed, Game 3 will follow 30 minutes after. The series will be played at Tuloso-Midway High School in Corpus Christi.
Rio Hondo will square off against Fredericksburg. Game 1 will be Friday at 7 p.m. at Three Rivers High School before the series shifts to Beeville Jones High School for Game 2 at 3 p.m. Game 3, if needed, will follow 30 minutes after.
Rio Hondo is no stranger to the Sweet 16. Two years ago, the Lady Bobcats reached the fourth round and eventually made the region final.
The Lady ’Cats will look to carry the momentum into their series against Fredericksburg after completing a sweep against Sinton this past weekend.
“ Getting to the Sweet 16 is something special,” said Rio Hondo coach Brett Esparza. “Not very many teams get to accomplish this. So for us to do it again, for a second time in the last three years, is a testament to how hard our kids work and we are humbled by the opportunity.”
A series win this weekend would send the Lady ’Cats to their second region final in program history, but Esparza and company know there is still a series to be played before that happens
“ We know what our ultimate goal is and we remain grounded,” Esparza said. “As far as Fredericksburg goes, we really don’t know too much. We do know that they are at the top of their district and they played in a competitive district.”
Harlingen South to no surprise is alive and well in the postseason.
The Lady Hawks swept through the regional quarterfinals with a sweep over PSJA North this past weekend.
Last year, the Cougarettes met San Benito in Round 4 in a one-game playoff and came out with the win. Their series win over Hays this past weekend punched their ticket to the sweet 16 for a fifth straight year and for the ninth time in the past 11 seasons.
“ When I came in four years ago, the mentality that I saw was the girls were satisfied on getting to the playoffs,” Harlingen South head coach Elias Martinez said. “And that was good, but we changed the mindset about us making a run in the playoffs as deep as we can. This is a big accomplishment for our girls and especially our senior class. This is their second go around in the Sweet 16.”
The senior class is no stranger to the postseason, reaching the playoffs each year. This year, South’s senior class is looking to get pass the Round 4 hurdle.
“ All of us as seniors, we are no different than anyone else,” said senior shortstop Krystal Gonzales. “Everyone has stepped up with their leadership roles when we don’t and we all step up in different way. That means a lot for the program because, when we leave, the next group will step up.”