Mercedes freshman pitcher Vento is All-Area Newcomer of the Year

WESLACO — Mercedes freshman pitcher Mika Vento is a fierce competitor. Her early accomplishments have impressed, but the few mistakes she makes still stay with her.

“I think we had a really good season,” Vento said of the Lady Tigers, who finished 24-9. “The only thing I kind of kick myself for was against (Corpus Christi) Carroll (in the UIL 5A regional quarterfinal round). I walked one of the girls who wound up scoring, and we lost by one. I sort of think, ‘If I didn’t walk her, maybe we could have tied or won or could have been a different result.’ I guess we’ll never know.”

Based on her numbers, giving up the one run in that regional quarterfinal game to Carroll didn’t impact her statistics enough to ruin her season. Vento still wound up with a 9-1 record overall, a 1.04 earned run average and struck out 68 batters while only walking five. In addition, Vento pitched complete games in seven of her 10 starts in 2017 and was named The Monitor’s All-Area Newcomer of the Year.

“We’ve had good freshmen pitchers before,” Mercedes assistant coach David Gonzales said. “Mika was mentally tough, which is rare to see with freshmen. She carried a good composure about her on and off the field. Coach (Veronica) Morrell was very confident in her, because she was always prepared well in practice. We tell the girls the way you prepare in practice is how you’ll play in the game. This showed that she prepared well every time she started a game or entered in relief.”

Vento’s play on the RGV Thunder softball travel team had a lot to do with her maturity in the circle.

“It’s done a lot for me,” Vento said. “I’m not pressured as much when I’m in tight situations. I just go with it.”

Vento learned longtime coach Morrell had announced her retirement as Mercedes’ softball coach after 20 seasons in the dugout.

“There had been talk about it (her retirement), but we weren’t sure until the season was over,” Vento said. “It was an honor to play for Coach Morrell. She was a great coach and is a great person. She always had the right kind of mood at practice by pumping us up. She’s really going to be missed.”