CIBOLO – Early fireworks Friday foreshadowed success for the Hays Rebels as they opened the postseason with a lopsided 11-1 bidistrict round victory over the San Antonio Madison Mavericks.
With an area round matchup against the state-ranked New Braunfels Canyon Cougarettes looming, Hays High sophomore catcher Annaliese Rodriguez believes a continued focus at the plate could pay off in the next round.
“We’re going to work a lot on offense,” Rodriguez said. “They (Canyon) have a good offense as well, but our focus is going to be offense and making sure we come out on top.”
Hays wasted little time in flexing its muscle at the plate Friday, scoring four runs on three hits and two Madison errors. The frame was highlighted by back-to-back RBI base hits from Rodriguez and Amaya Guerrero. Hays expanded its lead to 5-0 after two innings following an RBI single from Brianna Rodriguez.
The Rebel lead swelled to 7-0 before Madison orchestrated its only response in the bottom of the fourth frame, which came via a solo home run from Leah Hayes.
Lisa Cone, Hays High head softball coach, said familiarity with Madison pitcher Madison Morgan helped the Rebel cause on offense. Cone said the team knew what to expect because they had played Madison during a pre-district tournament.
Annaliese Rodriguez said Morgan had velocity, but also was “piping it in there, instead of having movement.”
A trio of strong practices also allowed the Rebels to build confidence at the plate as well, Cone said. Executing with runners in scoring position, and with two outs, also played a vital role in Rebel success on offense.
Ten of Hays’ 11 runs in the game were scored with two outs on the board.
“Early in the season, we struggled with that, getting those timely hits,” Cone said. “In the latter part of the season, we’ve been doing a better job of not panicking and hitting the ball where they’re pitching it to us.”
But Annaliese Rodriguez also attributed success at the plate to a more team-centric mentality. While the Rebels have worked on hitting all season long, it wasn’t until recently the team began to “work off of each other’s hits.”
“For a while, we had been playing selfish and thinking about our own hitting,” Annaliese Rodriguez said. “We’re really starting to hit as a team now. That’s what got us started, was getting hit after hit.”
On the defensive end, Hays pitcher Maxine Valdez cruised through her 6.1 inning outing, finishing with 13 strikeouts and conceding only two hits and one run in the game.
Rebel eyes now focus on a one-game playoff against New Braunfels Canyon, which tore through 14-6A, but was forced to rally from a 4-1 deficit to eliminate San Antonio Brennan in the bidistrict round.
While the Rebels fell to Canyon to open the 2018 campaign, Cone said Hays was a “totally different team” back then and made a “lot of mistakes that night.”
“They are going to have to fight. But when we play our best game, we can beat anyone. But we have to go out and play our game and do the best we can,” Cone said. “If we do that, we might give everyone in the region a run for their money.”