“Sometimes when you start a new season you're nervous or jittery,” Lady Buck sophomore third baseman Jenica Portillo said. “This year I feel like we picked up where we left off in the playoffs. We’re ready to start a new season and dominate.”
Last year Alpine High School saw its 10-year softball District title streak come to an end. Almost everyone was playing a new position, and several freshmen experienced a trial by fire on the varsity team. But after losing their first eight games in 2019 the 2020, the Lady Bucks took three out of five tournament games in Fort Stockton last Friday and Saturday.
“You put in the work, you get a good outcome,” added Jenica. “We all trust each other. We know what we can do as a team, so we’re very positive thinkers.”
The busy tournament games were played under a strict time limit. Yet all three Alpine wins were decisive even though they only lasted two or three innings.
On Feb. 21 the Bucks thrashed Sonora 12-1. Senior ace hurler April Watley hit her first home run of the season, and knocked in four runs. On the mound she surrendered only three hits over two innings. Watley homered again in game 2, but Alpine lost to Fort Stockton 11-3.
Their third contest was close, but the Lady Bucks couldn’t push across the tying run in a four inning, 4-3 defeat. Watley struck out five batters, but San Elizario's Leslie Munoz fanned 10 and tripled at the plate. Zaydrien Alaniz had 2 RBI for Alpine.
Feb. 22 was a better day. Alpine topped Ozona 5-0, and blew away Marfa 15-2. Nicole Baca had 4 RBI against Marfa, and Watley added three more hits. Over two days, she threw 11 innings, and was named Player of the Tournament by the umpires. Alpine travels to Ozona for a full seven-inning game on Friday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.
Senior Osiris Alferez saw her first action behind the plate on Saturday, but the primary catcher this season is freshman Kiara Castillo. So far everyone is pleased with her first foray at the high school playing the most demanding position on the field.
“She’s doing really good, this being her first time catching April,” said Portillo. “She’s probably never caught speeds as fast as April’s. I think that she's going to improve and get better as she goes.”