DONNA — There’s nothing more important to the Edcouch-Elsa Yellow Jackets than starting early.
The Jackets’ extra emphasis on landing lead-off hitters on base paid off in a major way Tuesday, as Edcouch-Elsa placed its lead-off batter on base to start five of seven innings.
That early-inning success at the plate fueled an offensive explosion and powered the Yellow Jackets to an 11-5 rebound win over the Donna High Bravettes, as one of the Rio Grande Valley’s hottest offenses caught fire again.
“My philosophy is (to) always try to get the lead-off girl on,” Edcouch-Elsa head coach Lubin Garcia said. “If we can get the lead-off hitter on, I know we can move her over with different philosophies and the arsenal we have here on this team.”
The Yellow Jackets got started early at the plate and never cooled off.
Edcouch-Elsa seized a 3-0 edge during the top of the first inning after getting the first four batters of the game on base safely and never gave the lead back.
Despite stringing together a few rallies at the plate, Donna was unable to match or slow down the Jackets’ offensive firepower.
The dominant victory marked the fourth time during the team’s last five games that Edcouch-Elsa had tallied at least nine runs in a game, while scoring 48 runs during that two-week stretch of softball.
“Our strength is pretty much our hitting,” Garcia said. “Our hitting has been coming around these last couple of games. We’ve hit the ball very well. We didn’t hit very well Saturday, but we had been hitting the ball really well in our two games before that.”
The Bravettes were able to trim the deficit down to 3-2, but the Jackets’ execution at the plate only improved in the later innings.
Edcouch-Elsa found its groove during the top of the fourth and the team landed its lead-off hitter on base to start each inning from that point forward and scored in every frame.
The Yellow Jackets used a barrage of extra-base hits during sixth and seventh innings to blow the game wide open. The team was led by center fielder Josie Alvarado, who recorded a 2-for-3 night at the plate with a stand-up triple to lead off the seventh and three runs, and shortstop Destiny Muñoz, who tallied a 3-for-3 performance with a double, two RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
“I was very happy with them because they made adjustments at the plate. You could tell towards the end of the game they started making adjustments up there once they started getting used to the pitching,” Garcia said.
“I was a little worried early because I thought we were still having that Saturday hangover from the loss, but we caught our stride in the third or fourth inning. That’s when we started hitting the ball like we know this team can do.”
Edcouch-Elsa improved to 8-7 overall and 7-3 in district competition with the win, while Donna fell to 3-8 overall and 2-8 in District 32-5A.
The victory also serves as a signature bounce-back win for the Yellow Jackets after falling to first-place Mercedes on Saturday.
That loss to the Tigers was one of the few occasions when Edcouch-Elsa’s deep lineup was stymied at the plate since early March and a sign that the team’s offense was able to recapture the momentum it had been building up for several weeks.
The Yellow Jackets, who now sit in a three-way tie for second in 32-5A, are hopeful their hot streak at the plate can continue when they return to action to wrap up their district slate with home games against Brownsville Pace and Brownsville Veterans and road trips to Brownsville Lopez and Brownsville Porter.
“We’ve been hitting the ball really well. I attribute it to these girls, who have been hitting the ball really hard in practice. They’ve really been focusing on the hitting part of the game lately,” Garcia said. “We’re really starting to hit our stride towards the playoffs. Hopefully we can make a run in the playoffs.”
Edcouch-Elsa returns to the diamond to host Pace at 7 p.m. Friday, while Donna will travel to face Porter at the same time.