SOFTBALL: Freshman’s triple ensures Aztecs win home opener

Farmersville’s early season win comes from the unlikely bag of freshman Alexis Hernandez in the team’s 5-4 win over the Sierra Chieftains

FARMERSVILLE – After falling behind in the second inning, freshman Alexis Hernandez’s triple allowed the Farmersville Aztecs to pull ahead of the Sierra Chieftains. They held the lead and won 5-4.

The Aztecs hosted the Chieftains for their first home game on Friday, March 3. After a scoreless first inning, the Aztecs fell behind the Chieftains 3-1 at the start of the bottom of the second. After another  run for the Aztecs, with two runners on base, freshman Alexis Hernandez hit a triple that sent both runners home and the Aztecs pulled ahead 4-3. Thanks to senior Stephanie Cruz’s pitching, the Chieftains only managed one more run and the Aztecs won 5-4.

“We have a group of freshmen that have really changed the culture of the team in a positive way,” Farmersville assistant coach Albert Romero said. “The other girls are just feeding off of it. They’re coming together as a team more so than previous years.”

Hernandez showed how much of an impact she has on the team as just a freshman with her game-winning triple. She recorded two runs batted in with her hit and landed on third base smiling as she watched her teammates easily make their way home while the Chieftains scrambled. Sophomore Janessa Garza was next up at bat and she hit a single, sending Hernandez home for the Aztecs’ fifth and final run of the game.

Alexis Hernandez and her twin sister Alexandra Hernandez have become an integral duo for the Aztecs. Alexandra plays shortstop and Alexis plays first base, two positions that are often in contact. They’ve played together, along with centerfielder Emily Alatorre, another freshman, for so long that they’re in sync. Even as a freshman, Alexis has become a leader on the team.

“She spends plenty of time making sure that others are prepared and making sure that they understand the game,” Romero said. “And she’s not afraid to share, she’s got so much patience with the other girls. We’re truly blessed to have somebody like that.”

The other critical player on the team is senior Stephanie Cruz. The left-handed pitcher bewildered the Chieftains with her unique pitching style. Cruz takes up the entire pitchers’ mound with her throwing style, which can be confusing for batters. For Sierra’s young team, they struggled to get hits and got most of their batters on base through bunting.

“Our girls were struggling with keeping the ball fair because of her movement,” Sierra head coach Sun-Shuri Naylor said. “It was like all over the place, so good job by their pitcher.”

Chieftains sophomore Lexi Valle scored the final run of the game in the fifth inning to make it 5-4. The Chieftains would need two more runs to win, but Cruz held them off with some help from her infielders, who began to anticipate the bunts. The Aztecs made quick work of the Chieftains in the final two innings, holding them in the top of the seventh so they didn’t have to bat.

This is the Aztecs’ third win of the season and their first at home. However, it is also the first game in which they didn’t score at least 10 runs. Romero chalked it up to anxiety and the Chieftains making strong plays. Despite struggling against Cruz, the Chieftain offense still managed to score four runs and make it a one-point game.

The Aztecs will play in the Cardinal-Titan Tournament at Orosi over the weekend. Their next home game is on March 6 against Kennedy High School.

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