After one of the most inspiring seasons in recent memory, one in which they came two runs away from playing in the state championship game, the San Benito Lady ’Hounds can now add 2015 San Benito News Citizens of the Year to their seemingly endless list of accomplishments from this year.
The Lady ’Hounds took the community of San Benito on a four month thrill ride that resulted in winning the district, bi-district, area, and regional championships before falling in the State tournament. This was the second time in the last three years that the Lady ’Hounds made it to the final four, no other Valley team has even made it once.
Headlined by two time All-Valley player of the year Crystal Castillo, San Benito consistently had a dominant crowd no matter where they would play. “This season was incredible. The amount of the support at every game was just crazy,” said Castillo. “Just being able to be a part of something that big… It makes me proud to be a Lady ’Hound.”
The regular season saw San Benito dominate again, en route to their 5th consecutive district title. In the playoffs, the San Benito faithful traveled in packs even to games in Corpus Christi and Austin. The purple and gold cheering section became such a sensation; opposing teams even took to twitter to warn others of the intolerable crowd. “I think that just shows how united this community can become. It’s really something special to see that many people come out consistently,” added Castillo.
Castillo has been the lone member of the team to sign on with a college program so far, but that’s not too much of surprise considering only four members of this year’s team graduated. “There’s still a great core there to work with so there’s no reason to think they can’t do this again, maybe even win State,” added Castillo.
In addition to the superstar pitcher, San Benito will also be losing first team all-district shortstop Ja’vana Gonzalez, second base Melanie Gonzalez, and third base Ali Huerta. Joanna Gonzalez, Audrey Huerta, Stephanie Contreras, Aleiyah Mireles, Diandra Padilla, Alexis Cavazos, Cindy Rodriguez, and Kim Harper will all be returning for the upcoming season
Despite their undeniable brilliance, long time head coach Elias Martinez decided to leave the program a few weeks after the final game. While a new softball coach has not yet been named, the lure of coaching one of the most successful programs in Valley history should enable San Benito to have a plethora of elite coaches to choose from once that process begins.
Even with the loss of Martinez, expectations for the upcoming year are sky high, as is usually the case for the Lady ’Hounds. “One thing for sure is that those girls will be ready,” said Castillo. “When you’re in a program like this one, you get used to those kind of expectations… I’m excited to see what they have for next year.”