All nine 32-4A softball teams started the 2014 season with playoff aspirations. Four of those were successful and will be competing in the bi-district round playoffs this weekend. Mission’s Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots and Mission High Lady Eagles will be playing tonight in one-game, do-or-die scenarios against Corpus Christi teams – one at home and one on the road.
Coach Vivian Ray’s VMHS Lady Patriots will be hosting the C.C. Ray Lady Texans at 6:30 while Coach Iris Iglesias’ MHS Lady Eagles will be traveling to C.C. Flour Bluff to take on the Lady Hornets at 7:30.
As the only head softball coach the Lady Patriots ever had, Ray has led her girls to playoffs all but three of the 12 years she’s been at VMHS. Having earned the second seed in the district this year, the Lady Patriots will be looking to be the first softball team in school history to advance into the second round of the playoffs.
“We’re really excited to be playing Ray,” said Ray. “They’re somebody that we haven’t played before and we are feeling very confident going into this game that we’ll be able to take care of business. We’re looking to go further in the playoffs than we’ve ever been before.
“I think that we’ve accomplished a lot this season and I’m very proud of this team because they did what they had to do when our backs were against the wall and that’s all I can ask of them,” the coach added.
Ray will be relying heavily on the arm of her number one starting pitcher, and three-year letterman, Alysson Moreno tonight.
“Alysson has been on the mound for us since her freshman year,” explained Ray. “I have thrown a couple of other pitchers from time to time but for the most part I’ve been going with her.”
At the plate, Ray has counted on three juniors to get on base and drive in runs all season long. They are Ina Trejo, Maritza Bazan and Alex Quintero.
As for what it will mean for the Lady Patriots to win tonight and advance to the second round of the playoffs, centerfielder Maritza Bazan and pitcher Alysson Moreno expressed similar sentiments.
“I think it will be a great accomplishment for us and for the school,” said Bazan. “We would be the first ones to advance past the first round and I feel very good about our chances to go past two rounds this year.”
“It’ll mean a lot for us to advance because it hasn’t been done before,” added Moreno. “I am very confident in our team because we’ve come together as one. We have not had that kind of bond here over the past few years.”
In her 20th and final season as the Lady Eagles’ head coach, Iris Iglesias was honored by family, friends, players’ parents, former players and others last Thursday evening after Mission’s 10-0, six-inning win over the first place Mercedes Lady Tigers. Many brought homemade signs to the game expressing heart-felt sentiments of gratitude for all that Iglesias has done for Mission High and the Lady Eagles softball program over the past two decades. Players’ families were allowed to take to the field and thank her personally with words of support and hugs.
When asked what it felt like to be the recipient of such an outpouring of support and gratitude Iglesias said, “I have mixed feelings right now. I feel so blessed to have this done on my behalf, but I know that the reality of this being my final district game will set in soon. I’m okay with it though. Even though I’ve enjoyed every one of the 34 years I’ve coached here at Mission High, 20 of which have been coaching softball, I feel as if it’s time for me to step down. I just love this school and it’s been an awesome experience for me.”