By Pat Turner
So far, the softball season is looking pleasant for Holmes.
The Huskies (10-1) are off to their best start in the program’s history. In addition, they’re sitting at the top of District 28-6A with a 4-0 record after taking sole possession of the top spot this past week with a 2-1 squeaker over Warren and a 15-8 come-from-behind victory over Jay.
“We are playing well,” Holmes coach Brian Sandera said. “The one we lost (2-1 to The Woodlands) we had a chance to win. We’ve been hitting the ball well. We’re getting good pitching and defense. We’re working hard and putting a lot of sweat into what we’re doing.
“We’re better than last year. We have experience with a lot more grit.”
This past week was a huge accomplishment, especially the win over Warren.
The Warriors (6-3-0, 2-0-0), who advanced to the Region IV finals a year after finishing second to Holmes in league play, didn’t make it easy by any means.
On this day, Holmes got the upper hand. Jalissa Alicea was equally stout on the mound, tossing a five-hitter with six strikeouts. She also received strong defensive support, which included two running catches by left-fielder Grace Martinez.
“We knew Warren was a great team,” said Alicea, who has verbally committed to A&M International. “We knew we had to play our best. I felt good with my pitches. My curve and riser were working. I had great defense behind me. We just focused on doing the little things.”
Holmes provided Alicea a 2-0 cushion in the third as three walks set up Alissa Martinez’s two-run single.
Warren sliced Holmes’ lead in half in the fourth.
Austin Germain led off with a single and scored two outs later on Lauryn Hernandez’s hit.
Alicea kept the Warriors’ bats silent the next two innings, but trouble occurred with two outs in the seventh.
Anissa Rodriguez dropped a single into shallow right and pinch-hitter Alivia Mata followed suit. However, the Holmes pitcher ended the threat with a groundout.
“This was a big win,” Sandera said. “They’re all big and we take it one game at a time. But it’s always big when you play the Big Purple. They have a lot of good players and are well-coached. This one was circled a long time by a lot of people.
“We only had one clutch hit, but sometimes all you need is one hit.
Holmes ran into trouble a few days later when Jay put the Huskies in an early 6-1 hole.
Holmes’ bats came to life as home runs from Jimmie Lee Garcia, Erykah Guerrero and Desiree Rojas got the Huskies going.
Still, the Huskies weren’t in the clear until breaking an 8-8 tie with seven runs in the seventh inning.
Warren rebounded from its loss as Litterio tossed a five-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 blanking of Stevens.
Brennan (8-3, 3-1) stayed near the top with potent bat work during a 16-5 blasting of Taft (6-4, 1-3) and Brandeis (8-3, 3-1).
The Bears were locked in a tight battle with Taft in the early innings, scratching out a 6-5 lead before going to bat in the fourth frame.
That turned out to be Brennan’s breakthrough as the Bears, who pounded out 19 hits, erupted for 10 runs, nine coming with two outs.
Allison Bocook made her presence felt from start to finish. She started the scoring with an RBI single. She then wrapped things up later in the frame with a two-run single.
In between, clutch hits also came from Tairisai Chawayipira, Alexandria Torres, Sierra Schottler and Hailey Neira.
Schottler and Neira also came up big against Brandeis. Schottler drove in three runs during a 3 for 4 outing at the plate. Neira went 4 for 5 with two RBIs.
Marshall (5-6, 3-1) pulled out two close games, including a 10-9 walk-off win over Clark. Prior to that dramatic finish, the Rams struck early and held off a late Stevens rally for a 6-5 victory.
The Rams got their offensive lift from Mariah Cerna-Garza, who ripped a three-run homer, Maddie Fernandez (2 for 4, 2 RBIs) and Michelle Arias (3 for 3).
Against Clark, the Rams, plagued by five errors, went into the final inning with a 9-8 deficit after the Cougars struck for four runs in the sixth and seventh, the biggie being a three-run blast from Madison Cuellar.
The Rams ended the game on a high note as Arias, who went 2 for 5 with three RBIs, unloaded a two-run triple.
Marshall had other offensive highlights, including a two-run homer by Fernandez. Zoey Zuniga went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs.
O’Connor (5-3, 2-2) recovered from an 0-2 start in 28-6A with convincing wins over Jay (10-0) and Taft (13-3).
Leighann Goode ignited the Panthers by driving in five runs in both contests. Her highlights included a two-run homer and a two-run triple in the Jay contest and a two-run blast and two-run double against Taft.