By KEVIN NARRO | Staff Writer
HARLINGEN — The 2019 softball season saw plenty of young softball talent come through in different ways. Harlingen South received an upgrade on its roster when freshman Iliana Saucedo arrived.
Saucedo and older sister Alexa moved back home to Harlingen after living in Florida. The two broke onto the softball scene and helped Harlingen South make another run to the Sweet 16. The Lady Hawks needed an arm in the circle to team with sophomore pitcher Kylie Ruiz, and they looked for another bat in an already deep South lineup.
Iliana Saucedo’s breakout year earned her the Valley Morning Star’s 2019 ALL-STAR Softball Newcomer of the Year.
“This means a lot,” she said. “I have dedicated a lot of time into softball and my work is paid off because I spent a lot of time here at the field.”
Saucedo filled in the circle and served as the team’s designated player. It didn’t take long for her to fill in and contribute.
“I think when we were at the Laredo tournament, that is when I felt I was connecting and bonding with the team,” Saucedo said. “We were all eating at Peter Piper and we were just talking together and I felt then we were all together as one team.”
In the circle, Saucedo went 13-2 with 88 strikeouts in 79.6 innings of work, managing a 3.95 ERA. While Saucedo threw hard from the circle, it was her offense that separated her.
The young slugger slashed .420 with a team-high 12 home runs, four triples, 47 hits, 31 runs and legged out 12 doubles. The only other player in the district that hit more homers was Los Fresnos’ Reba Reyes who smashed 16 long balls.
Saucedo is a part of a special group of freshman and sophomores that range across the Harlingen area. While she has one full year under her belt, she believes the best is yet to come with the young crop of talent within the district.
“If you think about Harlingen High, they had seven freshmen on their team and about four or five of them were starters this season,” she said. “Here at South we have some sophomores and freshmen, too, and we all made it work and filled in, and made it to the fourth round despite our youth. However, I do think in the next few years it will be more challenging with the rest of our district because we will all be much better.”