By ARMANDO GARZA
Special to the NEWS
When hitting is good, teams have a chance.
But when pitching and defense are on point, they’re just about unstoppable.
Behind another sterling effort from pitcher Crystal Castillo (14 strikeouts), the San Benito Lady ’Hounds notched a critical win on Saturday morning, 4-1 over Los Fresnos to assume control in the District 32-6A race.
San Benito (14-1 overall, 3-0 district) took a stranglehold of the district standings behind arguably the Valley’s best pitcher and a 13-hit barrage against a gritty Lady Falcon club.
Things got going for the Lady ’Hounds in the second inning when Ali Huerta singled to center field and Melanie Gonzalez laid down a gorgeous bunt down the first base line to put runners on the corners with one out. Then Castillo helped her cause when she hit a dribbler the same way Gonzalez went to load the bags.
That brought up catcher Kim Harper, who crushed a two-run double to bring in the pair for the quick 2-0 lead on Falcons starter Marisela Gaytan. Shortly after, Stephanie Contreras slapped an RBI-single to plate Castillo’s courtesy runner, Kimberly McCommas and it was 3-0 San Benito.
Unlike Friday night’s 10-0 coast past Harlingen, Castillo and the Lady ’Hounds had to be wary of a very good Los Fresnos team.
In the Lady Falcon third, Gaytan drew a walk and Vivikah Pecina singled to put two on with nobody out. With one out, those two stood on third and second, respectively, but Castillo made an incredible diving stab for the second out and then sat down Karina Gonzalez to get out of the jam clean.
Castillo found the “groove” she spoke of the previous night when she struck out the Los Fresnos side in the fourth. On the afternoon, Castillo was masterful, scattering five hits and walking one on just 90 pitches, another day at the office for the star, who in three district games now has 47 strikeouts.
After a quick Falcon fifth, the Lady ’Hound added an insurance run when Joanna Gonzalez singled and later scored on an infield error.
Trailing 4-0, Los Fresnos didn’t go quietly as Karina Gonzalez skied a solo homer to left with one out in the sixth. But Castillo settled down and struck out three of the next four Falcons she faced to end the threat.
With the win, San Benito goes into spring break with a game edge on the Falcons, regarded as the main threat to the Lady ’Hounds in the league along with Harlingen South. The girls will go to Brownsville Veterans Memorial on Tuesday night before entertaining Brownsville Lopez at Lady Hound Field next Friday as 32-6A play rolls on.
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