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District 30-5A softball preview

Lady Huskies, Patriots and Lobos ready to roll

District 30-5A consists of three of our Big 7 Softball teams: The Juarez-Lincoln Lady Huskies, the Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots, and the Palmview Lady Lobos and they all bring something special to the district. The rest of the district is made up by the reigning district champions Rio Grande City Lady Rattlers, the Roma Lady Gladiators, the Laredo Nixon Lady Mustangs, the Laredo Martin Lady Tigers, and the Laredo Cigarroa Lady Toros. Before we get into the thick of the season, here’s what you should know about our Big 7 Softball teams that will be competing this season.

The Juarez-Lincoln Huskies are coming off an 8th place finish in District 30-5A. Though far from first, the Huskies have made massive strides to get themselves out of last. The Huskies won four of the eight non-district games that they’ve played to start the season. This is one of the best starts to a season that the Huskies have had in a couple of seasons.

Progress Times spoke to Huskies head coach Javier Diaz about what’s different about this year’s team, “We got off on the right foot, it’s been many years since we’ve had a start to the season like this. It’s a combination of experienced players with our senior club but we have some freshmen that have come in and stepped up. They’ve injected a spark into the team. We have our freshman pitcher Natalie Gonzalez, she’s really good. We’ve had issues in the past with pitching and she’s come in and stepped up in her role in the varsity. Valeria Gonzalez, our freshman catcher, has also walked into a starting spot and she’s been great.”

The two freshmen have a good supporting cast of players such as senior right fielder Genesis Salazar, junior second baseman April Marroquin, and sophomore shortstop Sarai Gomez. These three have been taking on the majority of the offensive load for the Huskies while the freshman pitcher/catcher duo focuses on protecting their home plate. Coach Diaz went on to tell us, “We’re looking forward to getting our first district win. It’s been over 10 years since we’ve had a district win. That’s something that we have on our radar. We want to break that barrier. We want to get into the win column. We’ve set goals in our offseason. We want to make the playoffs. It really is a tough district. You have some softball powerhouses in Rio Grande and Mission Veterans, not to mention the schools in Laredo who all have their own fortes. It’s tough all around. There’s a lot of well-rounded teams with experienced players so it’s definitely a tough district to be in, but we know what we need to do. We have to keep doing what we’re doing. We have to keep chipping away at it. We started off with a couple of wins in our non-district play so we have some confidence going into district play.” Now that district play has started, the Huskies will have 14 chances to get their long awaited win. The best of luck to the Lady Huskies this season.

The Veterans Memorial Lady Patriots are coming off a second place finish in District 30-5A and competed in the playoffs. They lost to the Carroll Tigers in the bi-district round matchup that would close the book on that season. This season the Patriots have gotten off to a solid start to their season with a 4-3 non-district record.

Progress Times asked Patriots head coach Vivian Ray about a couple of key players that have been making a big impact on this year’s team, “Senior shortstop Brianna Solis, senior pitcher Crysta Robles, and senior left fielder Rebecca Guerrero. I think they’ve had several years under very good leadership from some of our past players so now they’re all stepping in to lead this team with their own personality. Brianna has been able to be moved around the same as Crysta. Rebecca has just gone to a whole different level. I think they’re able to hold and keep the team together.”

The idea is that this trio of seniors will be able to pass down some of their expertise to their predecessors. Coach Ray went on to tell us, “I’m excited to see how the team starts gelling. We’ve had to move kids up and down. I have a lot of young ones who are seeing playing time. It’s going to be exciting to see how they develop, grow up, and mature in this game as well as seeing what they pick up from our upperclassmen.”

A couple of those underclassmen include junior second baseman Mia Garza, junior centerfielder Jeselle Coy, and freshman catcher Andrea Vasquez, who have been helping out the Patriots offensively and defensively. We asked about the goals that this Patriots team has set for themselves before the season started, “For us, the one thing is that we need to be together. We’re not going to be successful if we’re not on the same page. Obviously we want to win a district title and go to the playoffs and get through the first round, but ultimately to get there, it has to be based on teamwork and unity. We’re all pushing each other and you develop a sense of team and belonging when we’re all going through the same thing. We’re going to work hard when we go out there and do what we have to do.”

The Patriots were two games behind the district champions Rio Grande Rattlers last season. The hope is that they’ll be able to jump the gap this season and dethrone the Rattlers while doing so. The best of luck to the Lady Patriots this season.

The Palmview Lady Lobos are coming off a third place finish in District 30-5A as well as a playoff run that ended in the first round to the Gregory Portland Wildcats. The Lobos tied with the Patriots with an 11-3 record, meaning they were also two games behind the Rio Grande City Rattlers who are the reigning district champions. This year, the Lady Lobos have brought home district championships for their volleyball and basketball teams. This year’s softball team wants to keep that trend going.

Progress Times spoke to senior pitcher Arianna Alaniz about doing just that, “Last year we were strong, but we lacked communication. When it got tough, we didn’t know how to push through it. This year is different. We did fall short last year but we have an opportunity to go for it this year, so we’re going to continue to work and push towards our goal of getting a gold ball as well as making history for this school.”

Alaniz won’t be doing this alone, she’s accompanied by sophomore outfielder Evoria Garcia, sophomore third baseman Alynna Gonzalez, and fellow senior outfielder Destinee Garza. Garcia chipped in her time as a part of the district championship winning season with the volleyball team and Garza is coming fresh off a district championship winning season with the basketball team. As these girls continue to work the offense of the Lobos, Alaniz can work the defense without any worry. Alaniz went on to say, “We all get along, no matter what when someone is down, we know how to pick each other back up and we’re always there for each other, we’ll always have each other’s back. We have the same mentality and we all have the same goal.”

That goal, win a chip. Only two games behind the championship last season, but they’ll have to get through teams like the Rattlers, Patriots, and the Gladiators to get there. The best of luck to the Lady Lobos this season.

After Week 1: Huskies 0-1, Patriots 1-0, Lobos 1-0.

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