Seguin head coach John Garcia might not have predicted the Lady Mats would have ever gotten this far this year.
But after an 0-5 start to a season which began with players in new positions all over the field, the girls turned things around. To the tune of a 29-6 run all the way to Friday night’s regional semifinal game in Beeville with Calallen.
“We had to move some people around because we got hit hard with graduation last year,” Garcia said. “Once everybody got comfortable we started rolling.
“I couldn’t be more happy with how we played as we went along. We had a lot of confidence, so once we got into the playoffs it was no big deal to the girls. They were used to it, accustomed to it, and we expected it.”
The run — and the season — came to an end in Beeville.
Seguin would out hit Calallen, but the Lady Mats couldn’t overcome three Wildcat home runs Friday night and fell in the one-game, winner-take-all semifinal, 4-2.
“It was a very tough game against a very good team,” Garcia said. “We missed a couple of opportunities to score some runs, while they took advantage of their opportunities. Give them credit — they came out on top.”
Two of the Lady Wildcats home runs came from their pitcher, Lizette Del Angel, who also went the distance in earning the win.
“She made the right pitch selection on a couple of pitches we threw, made a couple of good swings, put the bat on the ball and came through for her team,” Garcia said.
Seguin took the lead in the first inning, when Katie Guzman reached on an error, advancing all the way to second.
Presley Pence singled to move Guzman to third, and she scored on a passed ball to put Seguin up 1-0.
“The girls were really pumped up, the energy was good and we were able to get the run,” Garcia said.
Seguin held the lead until the fourth, when an error allowed Calallen an extra batter, and Seguin gave up the first home run of the night. The home run staked the Wildcats to a 2-1 lead.
“We made the error, they capitalized on it and it kind of took the wind out of our sails,” Garcia Said. “They tried to stay up and continue on, but it’s hard to get the momentum back when it swings the other way.”
Calallen added another run in the fifth for the 3-1 lead, before the Lady Mats scored again in the bottom of the inning.
Tate Smith doubled to lead off the inning, and moved to third on another passed ball. Pence got her second hit of the game to drive in Smith, and the Lady Mats trailed by one, 3-2.
Del Angel got her second home run of the game in the sixth for the two-run Wildcat lead, and Seguin was unable to score in their final two innings.
“We had a few opportunities,” Garcia said. “We didn’t have trouble getting anybody on, just the last two series, we had a problem getting them home. We seemed to get people on no problem, but it felt like we would just kind of go flat, make a mistake, swing at a pitch we shouldn’t have, or have a call not go our way.”
Seguin went down to its last at bat threatening to score.
“We didn’t have a problem creating pressure all night, and it came down to the last inning,” Garcia said. Smith had singled to get on, but Guzman and Pence struck out swinging and flew out to left field to end the game.
“We had our No. 3 hitter up, the pressure was always there, we just never did complete it,” Garcia said.
The defense kept Seguin in the game, making several great catches in the outfield to keep it close.
Pence made a couple of diving catches, and Caitlyn Nieto did the same in the seventh inning to prevent a run.
“The outfield did a great job, the infield was really solid,” Garcia said. “Take away the one error and we played a great game defensively.”
While Seguin will lose six starters to graduation this year, his returnees give the coach a great corps to start with for next season.
Interchangable pitchers and first base players Marissa Bradley and Mackenzie Neumann return, as does slugger and catcher Maddie Bone.
“That’s huge, we get our battery back and they’ll have four years experience as seniors next year,” Garcia said. “That’s really going to help and we have players we feel like we can plug in.
“Hopefully they can step up and do the job that we got from our seniors this year.”
The Lady Mats finish the year at 29-11, and were bi-district and area champions.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor for the Seguin Gazette. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com