Lady Mustangs to face Hallettsville in Area after sweep

The Lady Mustang softball team: Dezarae Perez, Felicia Guzman, Mariah Joseph, Gabi Sontoya, Bryanna Perez, Biviana Figueroa, Gabby Contreras, Megan Castro, Samantha Sanchez, KK Lara, Caprice Sanchez, Trista Vera, Julianna Morales, Angelina Zapata, Julianna Morales, and Daniella Garza.

The Natalia Lady Mustangs were able to out-hit the Florence Lady Buffalos 22-8 which led to a combined 20-3 scoring edge during the Class 3A, Region IV Bi-District series last weekend at Kyle Lehman High School. University of Florida commit (Junior Pitcher) Rylee Trlicek and the Hallettsville Lady Brahmas will be the next opponent in line, as the two squads will meet for a second straight season this coming Friday (7:00 p.m.) and Saturday (3pm/to follow) in a best of 3 Area Playoff.
If you re-call, a season ago Hallettsville knocked off Natalia in the same round, by scores of 5-3, 6-4. Hallettsville went on and advanced until they were knocked out of the playoffs in the Region IV Final vs. eventual state finalist Santa Gertrudis Academy.
“Against Florence, we came out and hit the ball well against them,” Coach Travis Crowley said. “We were able to be aggressive on the bases and put pressure on them.”
Game 1: Natalia struck in their first at bat during their Thursday night battle in Lehman. Bryanna Perez started things off with a single, before scoring thanks to a stolen base and back-to-back singles by JuJu Morales and Biviana Figueroa.
In the bottom of the 1st, Natalia forced a fly-out to right field, a ground out to 2nd base and finished off the inning with a Garza K.
In the top of the 2nd, Natalia went back to work overwhelming a youthful Florence squad who played very timid early and often during game one. After watching Felicia Guzman get on thanks to a walk, Guzman stole second before advancing to third on a Jimena Figueroa single. She was able to score on a pass ball as was Figueroa who stole three straight bags to give the girls in blue a 3-0 lead. This lead stood, until the top of the 4th.
Natalia used a Trista Vera single, a double by Guzman, a J. Figueroa hit by a pitch, a fielder’s choice put into play by Megan Castro and a single by Gabi Sontoya to increase their lead to 5-0.
In the bottom of the 4th, Florence scored their only runs of the game by a literal fluke. They got runners on thanks to back to back singles, but scored thanks to two “illegal pitches” which were called by the home plate umpire. Per rule, a home plate umpire is NOT in charge of calling illegal pitches due to the fact he does not have the proper angle. There were umpires on the corners of the infield which it should be either of their call. Regardless, Florence got on the board which had the Natalia coaching staff and fans livid.
Natalia responded with a vengeance, as they scored five huge runs in the top of the 5th. These were courtesy of a Morales walk, a triple by B. Figueroa, a double by Garza, a HBP by Vera, a walk by J. Figueroa and an error put into play by Sontoya allowing the girls in blue to take a 10-2 lead.
The Lady Mustangs added a run in the 6th thanks to a hit batter, two stolen bases and a fly out before finishing off the Lady Buffs with a big 7th inning.
In the 7th, Natalia’s Morales got on base with a single after watching Perez ground out. Next up, the Lamar Softball commit, sophomore Biviana Figueroa blasted arguably her longest home-run over the right field fence which was “slightly fake news” landed on the IH-35 access road in New Braunfels according to a “source”. All kidding aside, this led Natalia to a three run inning and eventual 14-2 victory.
Natalia finished the game with a 13-3 hitting advantage and the defense surrendered only two errors. Garza was dominant on the mound, pitching all 7.0 innings, allowing three hits, walking 0 and striking out seven in the game.
At bat: Garza 2-5-1RBI, Mariah Joseph 0-0-1run scored, Vera 0-2-1RBI-2runs scored, Sam Sanchez 0-0-1run scored, Guzman 2-2-2RBIs-1run scored, J. Figueroa 1-2-3runs scored, Perez 1-5-2RBIs-1run scored, Morales 2-4-1RBI-2runs scored, Castro 1-4-1run scored, Sontoya 1-3-1RBI, Caprice Sanchez 0-1 and B. Figueroa 3-4-3RBIs-2runs scored.
Defensive Put-outs: B. Figueroa 8, Gabby Contreras 5, J. Figueroa 3, Perez 2, Castro 1. Assists: J. Figueroa 3, Garza 3, B. Figueroa 3, Perez 1.
Game 2: The Natalia offense was not quite as hot when they returned on Saturday, as they put the ball into play numerous times, but right at their opponent.
The Lady Mustangs still managed to play stand-out defense holding Florence to five hits scattered among the seven innings. Garza remained strong on the mound, striking out eight Lady Buffs allowing just one earned run during the game.
“Overall, our pitching was stellar by Daniella Garza as she accounted for 15 Ks in the two games,” Crowley said.
After a scoreless first inning, Natalia got things rolling in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Natalia’s Vera started things off with a triple, which was followed by a Guzman single to the right side. Natalia then used a J. Figueroa error to left field, followed by singles by Sontoya and Perez to give the girls in blue a big 4-0 lead.
Florence scored their lone run in the top of the 3rd, as they used a single, a pair of ground-outs and another single to get on the board.
Natalia closed out scoring in the bottom of the 3rd. Natalia used a Garza single followed by a Trista Vera homerun to give the girls in blue all they would need in a 6-1 lead.
Natalia was able to hold Florence scoreless for the remainder of the game en route to a 6-1 victory.
At bat: Garza 1-3, Joseph 0-0-1run scored, Vera 2-2-2RBIs-2runs scored, Guzman 2-2-1RBI-1run scored, Contreras 0-1, J. Figueroa 0-3-1run scored, Perez 1-4-1, Morales 0-3-1RBI, Castro 0-3, Sontoya 1-2-1RBI-1run scored and B. Figueroa 2-4. Defensive Put-Outs: Contreras 8, B. Figueroa 8, J. Figueroa 2, Perez 2, Guzman 1. Assists: Perez 3, Guzman 2, B. Figueroa 2, J. Figueroa 2, Contreras 1, Garza 1.
Area Playoffs vs. # 9 Hallettsville
This coming Friday and Saturday a re-match will take place at Schertz Clemens High School as Natalia and Hallettsville square off for just the second time in the history of the two storied programs. Hallettsville is led by junior stand-out pitcher and University of Florida commit Rylee Trlicek who is a force to deal with on both sides of the ball.
Just as Natalia saw a season ago, she is talented but is only one player who can only do so much by herself.
“They are a very tough team loaded with talent,” Coach Crowley said. “We will have to execute in all phases of the game. The main thing will be putting the ball in play against their hard throwing pitcher.”
A season ago, Natalia had their chances as Trlicek did get a bit startled at times including having to rally her troops back from a late deficit versus Natalia in game two.
“Our defense will need to be solid and if Garza can do what she has done all season, we will make it a great game,” Crowley said.
Natalia and Hallettsville flipped for numerous things including location and series. Natalia wanted a one game series and Hallettsville wanted a best of three. Natalia wanted to play at Clemens (dirt field) and Hallettsville wanted turf (Marion). Natalia was able to win the field flip, but unfortunately not the series flip.
Regardless, to be the best you have to beat the best and Natalia is no stranger to the playoffs nor battling top teams in the region year in and year out.
Friday night, Schertz Clemens Field will be filled with blue and white on one side and maroon and white on the other as these two teams battle in game one at 7:00 p.m. This will mark the first time Natalia has played at Clemens since the 2003 battle between state ranked Natalia and #1 Weimar who was led by the great Jenna Kubesch.
Game two will be held on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. with a third game to follow if needed.
“Thanks for the support from the Natalia community and parents,” Crowley said. “Our program really appreciates it and we look forward to seeing Clemens HS packed with blue this weekend.”
By Eric Smith