April 30, 2021
By Greg SelberClick here for game photos
For the first time since 2009, no city softball outfit will advance to the area round of the playoffs, after North and Vela were knocked out in the bi-district stage this week, by Los Fresnos and Weslaco.
The Lady Cougars were defeated 10-0 by Los Fresnos Saturday, a day after the Lady SaberCats lost at home to the Pantherettes, 5-0. North was in a one-game series while Vela had also been beaten, 10-4, in Game One Thursday in Weslaco.
Starting in 2010, the local girls had at least one school get past the initial stage each year, sometimes two, but this season a very tough 32-6A did the job against its 31-6A counterparts, leading to the end of a good, long streak of performance.
For the Lady Sabes, who had gone to the Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons starting in 2018, the defeat to Weslaco was made even more emotional when Coach Jon Maples officially announced that the game Friday had been his last at the school. After five terrific campaigns, Maples is moving upstate, leaving Vela with a vacancy to fill.
There is also a hole in the middle of the batting order for 2022, as some tremendous seniors will soon graduate, opening up some spots in the starting lineup for a new coach and the remaining Lady Sabes. Eight of the roster members were seniors this season, meaning that shortstop Victoria Rogers, second baseman Sarah Cortez, and left fielder Ava Perez will form the nucleus around which the Lady Sabes will build.
North will return some very good players in 2022 but will surely miss seniors such as center fielder Mara Guerra and second baseman Annabel Segoviano, among six veterans set to walk the stage soon. The Lady Coogs will count on shortstop Kaylee O’Bryan and teammates Juliana Mancha (pitcher) and Liana Urbano (catcher) to stay in the hunt for honors and glory.