The Natalia Lady Mustangs may be a bit wet under the ears when it comes to varsity experience, but they jumped right into the middle of a competitive 5A Varsity Tournament last weekend showing no fear.
Right out of the gate, a Natalia Varsity team which started five freshmen in their 2017 season opener versus Medina Valley showed plenty of positives, as well as plenty of areas of growth needed.
When the two days of competition came to a close, the girls in blue had faced a total of six opponents which included 5A Medina Valley, 3A Blanco, 6A El Paso Burges, 5A Somerset, 5A Boerne Champion and 5A Kerrville Tivy.
Sizing up the competition, the Lady Mustangs were able to come away with wins versus Somerset and Champion, ties versus Blanco and Burges and losses to Medina Valley and Tivy.
For the first time since the early 1990s, the Natalia Lady Mustangs battled cross county foe Medina Valley on the softball diamond. Errors doomed the Lady Mustangs early and often in an 8-2 loss to the Lady Panthers. Only three of the eight runs were earned as the girls in blue earned one of their two runs.
Sophomore Danielle Garza took the loss on the mound for the Lady Mustangs as she gave up six hits, struck out two and walked one in the contest.
At bat- Garza 1-2-1RBI-1run scored, Jasmine Gomez 0-2, Felicia Guzman 0-2, Gabby Contreras 1-2, Bryanna Perez 0-2, Regina Garza 0-1, Dezarea Perez 0-2, Biviana Figueroa 0-1-1run scored and Gabi Sontoya 1-1.
Natalia’s second game on Friday was versus the Blanco Lady Panthers. The error bug proved costly for the Lady Mustangs once again, as they had seven in a five inning timed contest.
After trailing 2-0 going into the top of the 4th, the girls in blue responded with a big three run inning. This was courtesy of a Guzman single, a Garza base on balls and a Contreras single allowing the Lady Mustangs to charge ahead.
Unfortunately, Blanco used a pair of doubles, a single and a SAC bunt in the 5th to tie the game and this is how it would stand when time expired.
Junior Felicia Guzman took the tie from the mound, as she pitched 5.0, allowed six hits, walked 0 and struck out 1 giving up just 1 earned run.
At bat-D. Garza 1-2-1run scored, Guzman 1-3-1run scored, Contreras 2-3-1RBI-1run scored, Camryn Arizola 0-2, B. Perez 1-2, R. Garza 0-2, D. Perez 0-2-1RBI, Figueroa 1-3 and Sontoya 0-1.
Natalia’s final game on Friday was against a 6A El Paso squad the Lady Mustangs had handled with ease over the past two seasons at this same tournament.
Errors on top of a somewhat stalled offense resulted in a 3-3 tie when the five inning timed contest came to an end.
After trailing 2-0 going into the bottom of the 3rd, the Lady Mustangs scored a pair of runs thanks to a D. Perez HBP as well as a single by Garza and a double by B. Perez.
Burges surged back ahead in the top of the 4th thanks to three singles before Natalia tied things in the bottom of the 4th. The Lady Mustangs tied the game thanks to a Guzman single, a double by D. Garza and a single by Gomez. This is how the game would end tied, 3-3 after five complete.
Garza pitched all five innings on the mound for the Lady Mustangs.
At bat- D.Garza 1-2, Gomez 1-2-1RBI, Guzman 1-3-1run scored, Contreras 0-2, B. Perez 1-3-2RBIs, R. Garza 1-3-1run scored, D. Perez 0-1-1run scored, Figueroa 0-3, Sontoya 0-1.
Saturday began with the Lady Mustangs battling the reining 29-5A Champion Somerset Lady Bulldogs in their 4th overall game of the tournament.
Natalia’s bats came alive early and often as they hammered 14 hits into play en route to a huge 10-4 victory over the Lady Bulldogs.
Guzman took the win on the mound for the Lady Mustangs, as she pitched all 5.0 innings, allowed just three hits, walked 0 and struck out five in the game, giving up 0 earned runs. The downside to the contest was the fact the Lady Mustang defense surrendered six defensive errors.
At bat- D. Garza 2-2-2RBIs, Guzman 1-2-4RBIs-1run scored, Contreras 2-3-1RBI, Arizola 2-3-1run scored, B. Perez 3-3-3runs scored, R. Garza 1-2-2runs scored, D. Perez 0-3, Figueroa 3-3-3RBIs-3runs scored, Sontoya 0-3.
Natalia’s second toughest test when it came to true overall talent of an opposing team was versus the Boerne Champion Lady Chargers.
The bats remained hot versus the Kendal County squad, as Natalia belted out ten hits during this contest. To compliment a hot offense, the defense had one of their better games surrendering just one defensive error.
Garza took the win on the mound, as she pitched 5.0 innings, allowed seven hits, walked 0 and struck out 3 in the contest.
After jumping ahead 1-0 in their opening at bat, Champion was able to score two runs in the 1st, one in the 2nd and one in the 3rd to hold a 4-1 lead on the Lady Mustangs.
Natalia came alive with a huge 5th inning.
Natalia used a Sontoya HBP, singles by D. Perez, Arizola, R. Garza, a fielder’s choice by B. Perez, and singles by Figueroa, Guzman and D. Garza to score in five huge runs fueling them past Boerne Champion 7-4 when time expired.
At bat- D. Garza 1-3, Guzman 2-3-2RBIs, Contreras 0-3, Arizola 1-2-1run scored, B. Perez 0-2-1run scored, R. Garza 3-3-1RBI-2runs scored, D. Perez 2-2-1run scored, Figueroa 1-3-2RBIs-1run scored and Sontoya 0-2-1run scored.
After riding two great games of momentum, things fell apart a bit in their final game versus the Kerrville Tivy Lady Antlers. This was the same team Natalia had outscored in scrimmage play just days prior, but the Lady Antlers came to play on their home field.
Kerrville Tivy out-hit the Lady Mustangs 10-4 and played better defense with just one error compared to three by Natalia.
When you combine that with the fact Natalia lost their second starter to injuries for the weekend, it resulted in a tough 8-2 tourney ending loss.
Guzman took the loss on the mound, as she pitched 5.0, allowed ten hits, walked one, struck out one. The interesting note was that just one of the eight runs was earned, showing just how costly errors can be. Once again, errors will happen when you are dealing with youth, but the positive is the potential is there for this young ball club and time will really deal wonders on the experience side of things.
At bat- D. Garza 1-3, Gomez 0-1, Samantha Sanchez 0-1, Guzman 0-3, Contreras 1-3, Arizola 0-2-1run scored, B. Perez 0-1, R. Garza 0-2-1run scored, Figueroa 2-3-2RBIs and Sontoya 0-1.
“One good thing that came out of the that tournament was that our girls competed hard in every game,” Natalia Head Coach Travis Crowley said. “Also our younger girls got some experience in close games and had to come back in a couple of games to pull out some wins. Obviously we wanted a couple more outright wins, but we learned from each game. We have a lot to work to get where we want to be and where this program expects to be. Too many errors on routine plays cost us some games. When we get fully healthy I think we will be alright. We will be battle tested when it’s time to start district. Daniella Garza and Felicia Guzman led us all tournament not only with good pitching but offensively as well. Our youth showed at times (5 freshmen starting) but at other times they gave a spark to our team.”
The Lady Mustangs hosted 6A Laredo United South on press night. This coming Friday and Saturday, they travel to Atascosa County to battle in the Jourdanton Best Show on Turf tourney.
By Eric Smith