Weslaco High wins state softball title with walk-off grand slam

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AUSTIN — Things looked desperate for the Weslaco High Panthers after going down 9-3 to Waco Midway entering the bottom of the seventh inning in the Class 6A state title game Saturday at McCombs Field in Austin.

The Panthers never gave up and battled to set things up for sophomore shortstop Andrea Ortiz with bases loaded and Weslaco High down 9-7.

Ortiz smashed a grand slam to lift the Panthers to their first ever state softball championship and the first for a Valley program, beating Waco Midway 11-7. The win also meant it was the first state title for a girls sporting program in Valley history.

“At the end we just told the girls give yourself a chance, keep fighting, keep fighting,” Weslaco High head coach Mario Rodriguez said to the media at McCombs Field in Austin. “We knew they had a powerhouse over there and we were just trying to slow them down a little bit. I did not know if we could stop them, but we were going to slow them down.”

Rodriguez said in the end, it came down to quality at bats.

The Panthers started off with an out in the bottom half of the seventh. Sophomore Dayla Hinojosa made it to third on an error and was driven in by senior Alexis Soliz. A couple walks and a hit batter later, seniors Elizabeth Craig and Romy Nuñez drove in runs to make 9-7.

Next up, Ortiz.

“I knew I had it,” Ortiz said. “I told my coach and I told everybody I got you guys, I got you guys. Our saying is, ‘we got our backs’ and I knew I had to come through for my team. So, I believed in myself as much as I could and I came through.”

Waco Midway had hit four home runs off of Weslaco High and the Panthers did not do themselves favors with a couple of errors to build the 9-3 lead.

No team from the Valley had made it to a state title game in softball before Harlingen South and Weslaco High did it this weekend.

Harlingen South played the earlier game against a tough Melissa team loaded with D1 talent for the Class 5A state title.

The Hawks would lose 8-0, but it was a terrific season filled with playoff magic to send one of the Valley’s best softball programs to their first ever state tournament.

Harlingen South, Weslaco High and San Benito are the only Valley programs to make it to the state tournament.