Rio Hondo drops Games 2, 3 in series loss

MGN Online
  1. BEEVILLE — The Rio Hondo Lady Bobcats simply ran out of outs in their softball season Saturday in Beeville.

After winning Game 1 of a Class 4A regional semifinal best-of-three series 5-2 against Fredericksburg on Friday in Three Rivers, the Lady Bobcats suffered back-to-back losses Saturday in Beeville, 11-0 in five innings and 4-2. Saturday’s wins enabled the District 28-4A champion Lady Billies (33-9) to advance to the coming week’s 4A regional final against District 30-4A champion Geronimo Navarro (34-8).

District 32-4A champion Rio Hondo, which captured its sixth straight 32-4A crown in 2019, ended its season at 27-13-1, having advanced four rounds in the playoffs. The Lady Bobcats were trying to reach the regional final for the second time in three seasons, but it wasn’t meant to be.

“We couldn’t be any prouder of our girls and the season we had,” Lady Bobcats coach Brett Esparza said. “The season wasn’t made in one game, so we don’t take the final loss to really speak for our season. We had a season full of dramatic moments and memorable moments that the girls will hold on to forever.

“We’re proudest of the fact that these girls played for the community,” he added. “They played with pride, and they played together.”

The Lady Bobcats had bases loaded during the top of the first and fifth innings of Saturday’s opening game, but could not come up with a play to bring in a run in their 11-0 setback.

Meanwhile, Fredericksburg didn’t waste any time in scoring one run during the bottom of each of the first three innings to build a 3-0 advantage. They added four runs during the bottom of the fourth and four more during the fifth to win 11-0 via the 10-run rule.

Highlighting the Lady Billies’ offensive eruption to open the day Saturday were a three-run homer by Karlee Reyes during the fourth and a three-run homer by Ashlyn Weinheimer during the fifth. Weinheimer’s shot over the outfield wall came with two outs and the score at 8-0. It ended the contest early and sent the series to a deciding third game.

“They got on us early in the first game today, and we couldn’t respond,” Esparza said. “They kept us off-balance, and we were off flat. They struck first blood. We settled down and came out well in the deciding game with a fresh approach.

“We stranded nine runners in that third game,” Esparza added. “You get even half those runs and it’s a different story. But that’s the nature of the beast. This game will break your heart.

“My heart goes out to our girls because they played their behinds off all season long. They really believed in each other and really believed in the program. I know it hurts right now, but we couldn’t be prouder.”

During the final game of the day, the Lady Bobcats went up 1-0 during the bottom of the first on a sacrifice play by Kayla Castaneda that brought home Savannah Gonzalez from third. Fredericksburg tied it at 1 during the top of the second on a solo homer by Reyes over the center-field wall.

An RBI double by Fredericksburg’s Weinheimer during the top of the third made it 2-1. An RBI single by Rio Hondo’s Dominique De Jesus during the bottom of the inning tied the score at 2.

The Lady Billies had success bunting the ball most of the day. A sacrifice bunt by leadoff batter Madi Finley during the top of the fourth made it 3-2 for Fredericksburg. It became 4-2 on Kate Wenzel’s RBI bunt single during the top of the seventh.

“This feels awesome,” Fredericksburg coach Melissa Hall said. “We came in with one plan in mind to win two, and we got the job done. It was huge having the momentum we had from Game 2 going into the third game. We just fought through once we got to Game 3.

“I think we had some key people step up today,” Hall added. “Emery Boettcher pitched pretty much both games, and she’s a senior, so it was great for something like that to happen for her in her final season.”

Erika Cortez pitched her heart out for the Lady Bobcats, throwing all but a couple innings on the day.