Confidence is key for the Lady Coyotes. Every time the group steps onto the field, they believe they’re going to win.
The winning mindset Head Coach Charlie Rodriguez has instilled in his team has La Joya off to a 4-0 start in District 30-6A and 16-8 on the year. Even more impressive, they’re outscoring district opponents 62-5 in those four games.
“They play with a lot of confidence,” said Rodriguez. “They come out and they believe they’re going to win every game. Has it happened? No, we haven’t won every game, but the effort is always there and they believe they’re going to win. We have an aggressive approach to the at-bats and we’ve done well, so far. I’m happy with where we’re at.”
The Lady Coyotes’ aggressive approach was on display in the team’s latest outing, a dominant 16-0 victory over Juarez-Lincoln Tuesday night at La Joya High School. The Lady Coyotes pounced on the Lady Huskies early and didn’t relent until the game was called after three innings due to the 15-run rule.
In La Joya’s first at-bat, leadoff hitter and senior shortstop Monica Garcia set the tone with a booming homerun that skied over the centerfield wall. The Lady Coyotes’ went on to score nine more first inning runs, followed by six in the second inning to give La Joya a commanding 16-0 lead.
Garcia has four home runs on the year and said her mentality has been to grind from day one. The grind has paid off with positive results as Garcia, a Coastal Bend College softball commit, is batting leadoff for the Lady Coyotes for the first time in her career.
“My mentality was to come in, do work, get the grind going with the girls and win district,” she said. “I would say the work ethic is the key to our start. We work hard, practice hard and always get it done.”
Garcia finished the game with one home run and four RBIs, while fellow senior Alexandra Alaniz went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs.
The pair of Alaniz and Garcia provide the Lady Coyotes with power, leadership and experience in the lineup which has rubbed off on their teammates.
“The biggest key has mostly been leadership,” Alaniz said. “It’s not just seniors leading, it’s the juniors, the sophomores, the freshmen stepping up and doing their jobs. It’s also discipline, we’re determined to go for that district championship. We really want to make a come back this year and it’s really our motivation right now.”
One of those teammates who has stepped right in to a significant role is Leslie Ochoa, a sophomore utility player with sound defensive ability and another threat at the plate for La Joya.
Ochoa went 2-for-2 against Juarez-Lincoln with a pair of doubles and one RBI.
“We work so hard for this,” Ochoa said. “Last year, we were pushing ourselves to do as best as we can and even though we didn’t get district, we pushed ourselves all summer, all offseason to be number one this year. Fight every team, treat every team the same way and it’s been working out good for us.”
La Joya senior pitcher Sabrina Salinas’ is leading the way on the mound for the Lady Coyotes. A 30-6A All-District 1st Teamer a year ago, Salinas racked up six strikeouts in just three innings and has been out to prove she deserves to be in the conversation for this year’s district Most Valuable Player award.
“On the mound, I know that as long as I put the ball there and do my job, I have no problem with the bats coming up to play,” she said. “It really makes me more confident because I can put any pitch wherever I want to, because I know we can come back and I know we can get ahead, so it’s really confidence-boosting.
I just want to take my team far and dominate as much as I can,” she said. “I have a lot of people who doubt me and I’m competing for MVP this year. My mentality is just proving people wrong.”
Next up for the Lady Coyotes is Nikki Rowe (12-8-1, 3-1), another 30-6A team who has district title aspirations of their own. La Joya swept the Lady Warriors by a combined score of 19-5 in their two meetings a season ago and is looking for more of the same as the Lady Coyotes hope to tighten their hold on the district lead.
“We have to go out and compete like we do and we’ll be fine,” Rodriguez said. “The team goal has been to win a district title, they really have worked hard and worked together towards it.”
The Lady Coyotes and Lady Warriors are set to meet tonight, Friday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at Nikki Rowe High School, as both teams fight their way through district play.