By Constancio Martinez, Jr.
Special to the PRESS
This past week, the Port Isabel Lady Tarpons softball team participated in the 20th Annual Port Isabel / Los Fresnos Tournament. The 10-team, round-robin style tournament was played over a 3-day span, Thursday, February 27, through Saturday, February 29. Port Isabel came out of the tourney with a 3-2 record, with wins over Brownsville Pace, Brownsville Rivera and Devine while losing to Lyford and Sinton.
After going 0-2 in the first day of the tournament, the Lady Tarpons got off to a good start on Friday’s first game, beating the Brownsville Pace Lady Vikings 6-2 in four innings of play.
The Lady Vikings leadoff hitter opened the game with a triple off Port Isabel’s pitcher, Allison Gonzalez, but were held to one run in the inning. In the bottom of the first, PI’s leadoff batter, Whitney Zaloski, got on base on a walk. The next batter was struck out, but Allison Gonzalez managed to reach first base on a bunt. Celina Marchan was able to hit a line drive down the 3rd baseline, bringing Zaloski tying the game at 1-1. The Lady Vikings got the next batter on a pop up out, but Port Isabel’s Mary Jane Cantu hit a beautiful ball over second base for a double, bringing in another run. Layni Mata then hit the ball to centerfield, bringing in two more runners. The Lady Tarpons finished the inning leading 4-1.
In the second inning, the Lady Vikings batter hit a deep ball into right field, but Alanna Zermeno made a great catch for the out. The next batter advanced on a hit by pitch, but the next two batters were called out on a pop up out and a throw out to first base ending the Lady Vikings at bat. The Lady Tarpons bats cooled off a bit as only Viviana Cantu managed to reach base on a single.
Things got interesting in the third inning as in a blink of an eye the Lady Vikings managed to get bases loaded. Port Isabel pitcher Allison Gonzalez regained her composure and struck out the last two batters to close out the Lady Vikings at bat. The Lady Tarpons lead was cut down to 4-2. Port Isabel’s Marchan opened the bottom of the third with a single. Zermeno then followed that up with a double. Mary Jane Cantu then hit the ball to centerfield bringing in the two baserunners extending their lead to 6-2. The Lady Vikings pitcher stopped the bleeding by striking out the next three batters.
The Lady Vikings opened the fourth inning with the batter advancing on a double, but that was all they could muster against Gonzalez. Gonzalez struck out the next two batters and the final out came out on a fly ball. In the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Tarpons had three players on base when the game was called with the Tarpons taking the win 6-2.
One of the biggest wins came on the third day, where Port Isabel defeated Devine 4-3. On the team’s performance in that game, Port Isabel’s head softball coach Danno Wise said, “That was a big win for us over Devine, who was ranked #4 in the state in Class 4A last week.”
Lyford, who reached the third round of the playoffs last year, continues its domination in the area regardless of classification, as they finished the tournament 5-0. Lyford is currently ranked #6 in the state.
The Lady Tarpons will be participating in the 3-day Brownsville ISD Softball Tournament starting March 3.
“We expect to compete for the district title and make a run in the playoffs,” Wise said. “We have strong pitching. Still a bit inexperienced infield and don’t have much depth, but defense is playing well and we should be ok as long as we stay healthy.”