Their sport of choice may be called softball but when the Mission High Lady Eagles take to the field they’re anything but soft. Need proof? Just ask their District 31-6A opponents.
With the first round of district play now behind them the hard-ball playing Lady Eagles are sitting pretty in the standings. That’s because their 5 – 1 record has them in second place just one game behind the undefeated Nikki Rowe Lady Warriors. The fact that they have achieved such a high level of success in this their first year as a 6A team and in their first year ever without Coach Iris Iglesias in the dugout is quite an achievement.
After 35 years of coaching at Mission High, and as the only coach the Lady Eagles’ softball team ever had, Iglesias announced her retirement at the conclusion of the 2013/2014 school year. The departure of Iglesias opened the way for the promotion of her former assistant Reuben Trigo who is now making the most of his first-ever head coaching opportunity.
“While there are challenges involved in taking over a program from a long-time coach like Iris Iglesias, the fact that this is an established program has also made it easier in some ways,” explained Trigo. “There is already that tradition that the girls coming in know what is expected of them and they know what they represent as Lady Eagles. Also the fact that I was here as an assistant coach for six years has made the transition easier as well because I am already established as part of the program.”
“Coach Iglesias let me handle a lot of the day-to-day coaching duties over the last two or three years which prepared me for this opportunity,” added Trigo. “I’ve learned a lot from her and she did a great job of preparing me so I thank her for that.”
While other Mission High sports teams have struggled against 6A competition this year, the Lady Eagles softball team has defied the odds and is in the thick of the playoff hunt. Mission senior first baseman Amanda Hernandez attributes that fact to the team’s never-say-die attitude.
“We see a challenge and we set out to conquer it,” Hernandez said. “With only four seniors on this team we’re young but we don’t play young because we have a lot of heart.”
With six games left to play and a rematch against the only team to hand Mission a district loss so far this season, Nikki Rowe, still on the schedule, the Lady Eagles could very possibly find themselves fighting for a share of or possibly an outright district title in the weeks to come.
As Lady Eagles’ junior shortstop Alyssa Olivarez explained however that’s not something they’re dwelling on at this time.
“A district championship is a goal for our team,” expressed Olivarez. “Our coach is always pushing us to achieve excellence. But we don’t like to think too far ahead so right now we’re just taking each game one at a time and hoping for a win every time.”
As for what it means for her to be a member of the Lady Eagles softball team Olivarez said, “It is a big honor to be part of this team. It’s a big blessing too because I get to play for coaches that give us good discipline and coaches that bring out the best in us by challenging us on a daily basis.”
With the opening game of the second round being scheduled to have been played last night against McAllen High, the Lady Eagles’ remaining schedule includes home games against Palmview (April 7), Nikki Rowe (April 17) and McAllen Memorial (April 24) as well as games at La Joya High (April 14) and at Juarez-Lincoln (April 21).