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March 22nd, 2009
Rattlers fall short in finals

San Marcos third baseman Meagan Villegas tried to recover from fielding a screamer Saturday in the San Marcos Spring Break Tournament. The Rattlers softball team finished in second place. Photo by Jason Jump.

Sports Reporter

It was the same song, just a different verse being sung Saturday night in the Gold Bracket finals of the Lady Rattlers Spring Break Classic.

Last year the San Marcos High School softball team fell in the title tilt due to a controversial call that sealed its demise.

Another questionable call surfaced again this season in a 3-0 loss to Brock that ended the Rattlers’ title hopes in the championship game.

“We had a questionable call last year, and to have that questionable call – I mean that wasn’t a questionable call. It was just a bad call,” Rattlers head coach Cathy McBride said after the game.

The dispute arose in the Brock half of the third inning, after the first three batters reached to load the bases. The Rattlers battled, trying to maintain a scoreless tie. San Marcos pitcher Allyson Morris popped up Brock’s Cheyenne De La Garza to left for the first out, but the bases remained loaded. Then, Morris appeared to have fanned Hannah Wagner for the second out, but the home plate umpire called a foul tip. keeping Wagner alive.

“That should have been two outs,” McBride said. “He (home plate umpire) said she tipped the ball, (but) she didn’t touch it.”

Wagner took full advantage. On the very next pitch, she crushed a screamer off the leg of Rattlers’ third baseman Meagan Villegas, allowing the first run to cross the plate. Then Dayla Jones hit a grounder to short, but Jena Gonzales could not come up and a second run crossed the plate.

“We started kind of booting the ball around a little bit after that call,” McBride said. “They’ve got to be a little bit tougher than that, mentally. But, at the same time, I know with the week we’ve had that they’ve put in so much. I can’t really ask too much more than what I got out of them this weekend.”

Morris battled back to strike out the next two batters she faced to keep her squad in the game, but ultimately to no avail as the San Marcos bats, which had produced 11 runs in the two previous bracket games, went silent in the finals.

“We’re putting up phenomenal (offensive) numbers, and you’re going to hit speeds bumps every now and then, but Brock had a good pitcher,” McBride said. “They are a 2A school, but they are a good squad, and it’s good for us to see that competition. We need to see that kind of pitching and competition, so we are ready for district play.”

Katie Nichols led off the game with a single, but the Rattlers did not see another base runner until April Cervantes’ one-out single in the top of the fourth inning. Neither runner was able to advance past first base.

Brock added an insurance run in the bottom half of the fourth inning on a wild pitch. Ingram was hit by a pitch and then moved to second on an error. De La Garza advanced her to third with a single to center, putting her in position to score on the errant pitch.

San Marcos’ best scoring opportunity came in the top of the fifth inning, when Gonzales ripped a one-out double to the left-center field fence. But Hays struck out the next batter she faced, then ended the game on a grounder back to the pitching circle.

McBride said this was another tough loss for her squad to take.

“As competitive as we are, it’s more difficult than you would think,” McBride said of keeping the loss in perspective. “This was our 10th game this week, and for them to actually be here (in the championship game) was, I think, a great accomplishment. But we know we’re a good team, and we have high expectations for ourselves.”

McBride also said her team has to overcome obstacles like the foul tip call, but repeated that the squad had endured a tough week and just didn’t have the juice to fight through it.

“The momentum changer was that call at the plate, because I think we were thinking, ‘Here we go again, just like last year,'” McBride said. “Sometimes, you know especially (with) as long a week as we’ve had, it’s hard to get yourself (to) stay mentally tough, and it’s easy to succumb to the little things like that. I think that’s what happened to us tonight.”

San Marcos moved into the title tilt with a commanding 5-1 win over Corpus Christi Moody in the semifinals, and a 6-0 shutout of Andrews in the opening round.

Dawn Villegas picked up both wins for the Rattlers.

San Marcos will return to District 17-4A action Tuesday with a 7:15 p.m. home date against Lehman. The Rattlers will look to get back to the .500 mark in district action with a win.

Jena Gonzales takes a rip for the Rattlers. Photo by Jason Jump.

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