By Melissa McCaghren
The Slaton Tigerette Softball team shook off a lot of dirt from a bumpy start this past weekend, defeating Seminole 6-4 on Wednesday night (March 3) and having several big wins in the Seminole Tournament.
Head Coach Brandon Langston was proud of the team’s game against Seminole Wednesday, saying they came out with a “big win.”
“We were down 4-3 after Madi Englund’s solo homerun to lead off the fourth inning and Seminole brought their ace pitcher in,” he said. “We were able to scratch out a couple of runs against her in the fifth and sixth.”
“Adrianna Martinez-Zapata pitched a good game against Seminole and our defense stepped up with some really good plays behind her. It was the best we have played up to this point in the season.”
The team then competed in the tournament Thursday and Saturday.
In the Thursday matches, the team defeated Brownfield 15-7 and Presidio 13-3, while Saturday they beat Denver City 23-3, Estacado 17-3 and Midland High JV 16-5.
While Langston was pleased the teams did well and won all their games, he wasn’t satisfied.
“The level of teams we faced was not necessarily what we were hoping for right before starting District play but we did what we should have done against these teams,” he said.
Among the top plays of the week included:
• Nata Soto hitting for a cycle, which is a homerun, triple, double and a single against Denver City Saturday.
• Madi Englund was 16 for 21, with two homeruns, two triples, six doubles, 15 runs and 14 RBIs on the week.
• Samantha Gatica was 16-21 with two homeruns, two triples, two doubles, 15 runs, 15 RBIs and a stolen base.
Justyne Zapata also chipped in two homeruns.
A total of seven home runs were hit during the entire tournament by the Tigerettes.
“Those stats are kind of crazy but the girls are hitting the ball really hard right now,” said Langston.
Langston said the team has seen a different season of leaders on the field than in the past few years – both infield and outfield.
“We started off the season not able to practice much and were not playing very good. After our game against Midland Lee a couple of our girls called a team meeting and kinda went back over our expectations and really came out that day in practice and had a great day and since then we have gotten a little bit better every day,” he said. “Justyne Zapata is kind of our vocal leader who isn’t afraid to speak up, Madi Englund has spoken up about different in-game situations, Erica Brooks is kind of our calm person that gets us back in the right defensive situations, Samantha Gatica has really been our spark and energy for us in practice and games.”
“Defensively we are starting to make the plays we are capable of making, we moved Genesis Ortiz to the outfield and she has improved our defense out there, Samantha and Madi just make really good defensive plays when we need them to like they have in the past,” Langston added. “Justyne has continued to get better at shortstop and made some good plays for us and Nata Soto has done a good job behind the plate and has made some big plays throwing runners out on the bases.”Now, the fun is over – District starts this week.
Langston added these teams are also ready for action to vie for a spot in playoffs, doubly so after the season was canceled abruptly last year.
“I believe Idalou is ranked No. 4 in the State, Abernathy is coming off winning the Tahoka tournament, Childress just won the Pampa tournament, Shallowater played well in the Seminole tournament so we have to continue improving,” he said, adding they traveled to Idalou Tuesday (March 9) for play.
The team will then play in Shallowater Saturday, then Roosevelt and Abernathy next week to round out the first two weeks of play.
That said, he added the team is preparing to fight their way to making yet another playoff appearance, hopefully to better their Regional Semifinal appearance in 2019.
“We have talked about now is the time when games start to count and just continuing to improve everyday and focusing on us and what we need/suppose to do. Every game will be a tough one in District and just need to focus on one at a time. It is fun to see this group of ladies start to come together and start to see some of the things that they are capable of doing,” he said.
Games will be reported in next week’s edition.