The Weslaco High Panthers and PSJA North Raiders each picked up crucial wins in shutout victories to highlight Friday’s bi-district action across the Rio Grande Valley in the Class 6A softball playoffs.
The Panthers went on the road and shut out Edinburg Vela — the 24th-ranked 6A team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll — 5-0 in the second game of their bi-district playoff series to earn the series sweep over their former district rivals.
Panthers pitcher Katia Reyes delivered in the circle during her second consecutive postseason start and rebounded nicely after allowing a pair of home runs during her team’s 10-4 Game 1 win.
The Weslaco junior tossed a complete game while striking out six and yielding no walks and only one extra-base hit to the SaberCats.
Right fielder Jordan Diaz led the way for the Panthers offensively with a 3-for-3 night at the plate that included a run and game-high two RBIs.
Weslaco improves to 17-4 on the season with the victory and becomes the first RGV team in Class 6A to advance to the area round, where the team will face either Eagle Pass or San Antonio Harlan next weekend.
PSJA North, meanwhile, kicked off its postseason Friday with a 5-0 home victory over San Benito to take the first game of their best-of-three bi-district series.
The District 31-6A champions were led by pitcher Ariella Saenz, who struck out two and allowed just five singles in a complete-game shutout against the Greyhounds.
Saenz also led the way for the Raiders offensively out of the cleanup spot tallying a double and three RBIs as part of a 1-for-3 night. Catcher Angel Lozano tripled while scoring and driving in a run and center fielder Victoria Espinoza also collected an RBI double in the win.
PSJA North will head to San Benito to face the Greyhounds in Game 2 at 1 p.m. today with Game 3 to follow immediately afterward if necessary.
BROWNSVILLE VETS, MERCEDES, PIONEER PUNCH TICKETS TO AREA ROUND
Three Rio Grande Valley teams in Class 5A punched their tickets to the area round of the playoffs Friday by concluding bi-district series sweeps, as Brownsville Veterans, Mercedes and Sharyland Pioneer all secured their spots in Round 2.
Brownsville Vets jumped on PSJA Memorial early in Game 2 of their best-of-three bi-district series, scoring at least one run in each of the first five innings and six of seven frames overall.
The Chargers collected 17 hits during a complete team effort offensively led by junior catcher Natalie Mendoza, who nearly hit for the cycle. She finished a 4-for-5 night with four runs, two RBIs, a triple and a home run.
Brownsville Vets improves to 18-5 with the win and will play either Corpus Christi Ray or Rio Grande City in the area round.
Mercedes followed up a perfect game in its Game 1 victory over Valley View with another dominant performance, winning 17-5 in five innings to eliminate the Tigers from the postseason in their first home playoff game in program history.
Mercedes, the District 32-5A champion, advances to face Victoria West in the area round next weekend with game times and locations still to be determined.
Finally, Sharyland Pioneer took care of business in Game 2 against Edcouch-Elsa to hand the Yellow Jackets a 13-1 loss while picking up the team’s fifth consecutive win.
The Diamondbacks will go up against Corpus Christi Flour Bluff in the area round next weekend with game times and locations for that matchup yet to be determined.
TRIO OF 30-5A TEAMS BOUNCED FROM PLAYOFFS IN BI-DISTRICT ROUND
A trio of District 30-5A teams was bounced from the bi-district round of the playoffs Friday evening, as La Joya Palmview, Mission Veterans and Roma each had their seasons ended.
Palmview jumped out to an early lead on Flour Bluff after senior slugger Bianca Fernandez put the Lobos on the board first with an RBI double in the bottom of the first inning.
Kimberly Martinez and Fernandez later scored on a wild pitch and sac fly, respectively, to put La Joya Palmview out in front 3-0 by the end of the first inning.
Flour Bluff, however, battled back to tie the game up in the fourth before surging ahead during the later innings to secure a 10-3 victory.
Mission Vets traveled to Robstown to face Victoria West in a one-game, winner-take-all bi-district round matchup but struggled to generate enough offensive consistency to keep pace with the Warriors.
The Patriots were held to one hit during a 10-0 defeat in six innings.
Roma looked to rebound against District 29-5A champion Corpus Christi Carroll in Game 2 of their series after a difficult first game in which the Tigers tossed a perfect game.
The Gladiators scored three runs during the first two innings of play, thanks to a double by senior captain Kelsey Vera, who scored on a fielder’s choice, a solo home run by third baseman Becca Ochoa and Ari Barrera’s steal of home plate on a wild pitch.
Roma, however, ultimately did not claw back from an early deficit and fell to Carroll 17-3 in five innings.
Friday’s contests also marked the first home playoff games for both La Joya Palmview and Roma in their respective programs’ histories.