Weslaco High eyes chance at State Tourney, seniors ready for Regional Final

WESLACO — Weslaco High has had a solid core attempt since underclassmen to help the Panthers back to the softball state tournament, only to come up just short the past two season, but this year feels different.

The Panthers have another shot at making to the state tournament when they face San Antonio Brennan in a three-game series beginning at 8 p.m. today at Cabaniss in Corpus Christi. 

Weslaco High made it to the regional championship two seasons ago, losing to the eventual state champions San Antonio O’Connor and then eliminated by O’Connor again last season, but this was in the third round. There are a healthy amount of Panthers on the team that picked up experience the last two seasons and will need that playoff exposure against Brennan. 

Weslaco High senior second baseman Mia Rodriguez was in the crowd in 2016 when the Panthers played in the state semifinals, and ultimately losing against Pearland. Rodriguez said it was a tense atmosphere as a fourth-grader watching in the stands as her father, head coach Mario Rodriguez was leading the Panthers. 

“I remember always getting pulled out of school for the weekends to go watch the team play,” Rodriguez said. “I probably did not fully understand what was going on in a way, but I remember the environment and being with my mom and how stressed she was. It is all just flooding back.” 

Weslaco High’s Mia Rodriguez (34) attempts to beat the runner at first base against La Joya High in a Regional Quarter Finals one game at the La Joya Baseball Complex on Thursday, May 9, 2024, in La Joya. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Rodriguez is grateful for being able to be a part of the a program with a winning tradition after growing up her life around it. Mario Rodriguez took over when the second baseman was a baby, 18 years ago. 

Rodriguez is one of the key hitters on the team and an experienced infielder that will play at Midland College next year. The Panthers infield is senior heavy with other collegiate talent. 

Weslaco High’s Elizabeth Craig celebrates a home run against Lake Travis at the Region IV-6A semifinals in Beeville. (Andrew Cordero/Special to RGVSports)

Senior first baseman Elizabeth Craig is one of the best first baseman in the region with one of the best stretches in the state. Craig also has a terrific bat and will be playing at Angelina College in Nacogdoches next year. 

The goal at practice this week for the Panthers was to really hammer down, focus and be sharp – the first baseman said. 

“We have to have little to no errors in these next couple of games and just really focus on what we can control,” Craig added. 

Throwing to Craig from the opposite corner is another standout, senior third baseman Alexis Soliz. 

Soliz is headed to Texas A&M Kingsville next year. Soliz is also one of the best in the region at her position and expects a lot of work this series at third base. Brennan does not have many home runs this season, but are a really good hitting team. 

“They are real quick on their feet,” Soliz said. “We just have to play our game and we will be fine.” 

Rodriguez, Craig, Soliz and Romy Nuñez all hit home runs against Lake Travis in the fourth round. Nuñez is also part of the infield and plays behind home plate, but also takes up the role as designated hitter. 

Nuñez signed with Schreiner University in Kerrville in January.

“Our bats are great, (Madelynn Cantu) is doing great, our lineup has been consistent and we just to have to keep playing our game like we have been doing,” Nuñez said. 

Weslaco High’s Romy Nuñez celebrates a home run against Lake Travis in the Region IV-6A semifinals in Beeville. (Andrew Cordero/Special to RGVSports)

Weslaco High’s game is a strong hard-hitting lineup that can score runs in a hurry and with a great defense behind Cantu, the Panthers hard working sophomore pitcher, they have been great in the playoffs – going 8-2 in the playoffs so far. Sophomore short stop Andrea Ortiz and sophomore Clarissa Mejia rotates with Nuñez at catcher and designated hitter to round out the infield. 

Senior Ema Galvan is joined by Dayla Hinojosa and Lola Reyes in the outfield. All three have some power in their bats as well, but are also great around the bases. The Panthers bench is loaded with fast runners and solid pinch hitters.

Weslaco High teammates rally from the dugout in a Regional Quarter Finals series game 2 against La Joya High at Weslaco High School on Friday, May 10, 2024, in Weslaco. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Brennan is not going to be easy and were one of the likeliest teams out of the region to join Weslaco High in the regional championship. Bears pitcher Bryannah Campos is a solid leftie that struck out 27 batters in three games against Schertz Clemens in the regional semifinals. 

Rodriguez, Craig, Soliz and Nuñez all spoke fondly of their time in the program, playing youth softball not only in Weslaco, but across the Valley and will look to have one more week in purple and white.