Special to the NEWS
RIO HONDO – With several playoff appearances to their credit, it’s hard to believe the Rio Hondo Lady Bobcats have never won a softball playoff series.
Time and again, the Lady Cats have come up just short in the second season, sometimes in heartbreaking fashion.
But that’s in the past. The Lady Cats are hoping to exorcise those demons when they take on Raymondville in a Class 3A bi-district best-of-three playoff series beginning Friday night.
Game 1 will be at Lady Kat Field in Raymondville at 8 p.m. Friday with Game 2 following at 10 a.m. Saturday morning in Rio Hondo. Should a third game be necessary it would be played Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in Rio Hondo. The winner of this series will face Devine in the area round playoffs next week.
“Our girls are fired up and they’re excited about the opportunity to win that first playoff game,” Rio Hondo coach Brett Esparza said. “It’s something we want to get accomplished. We feel we match up fairly well with Raymondville and if we get hot with our sticks and play good defense that we can win the series.”
Rio Hondo (14-15) came in second in District 32-3A and lost its regular season finale to district champion Port Isabel, 13-11. But Esparza said the Lady Cats’ rally in that game could serve as a good springboard for the playoffs.
“We came out flat against PI but we got hot and it was a good wake-up call for us,” Esparza said.
In that game at PI, Rio Hondo got hot at the plate, belting out 17 hits to crawl back from a 12-0 second-inning deficit. Ashley Canas and Brittany Beltran each went 4-for-5 at the plate with triples. Amanda Torres and Destiny Hernandez went 2-for-3 as well.
On the season, the Lady Cats were one of the best hitting teams in the district. Their team batting average (.455), slugging percentage (.623), on-base percentage (.523) and runs per game (6.8) were among the highest in the area.
“We know we can hit the ball and we want to come out hot, come out on fire and come out focused against Raymondville,” Esparza said.
Although they must go to Willacy County to open the series Friday, Esparza said having Saturday’s and Monday’s (if needed) games at home is a plus for his club.
“We’ve played really good at home all year,” Esparza said. “We respect Raymondville but our girls are excited. They want to raise the bar for themselves.”