Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s softball team, the Jaguars, took on the Howard Payne University Yellow Jackets in back-to-back games in their home opener. The Jaguars were victorious in their first game but lost a nail-biter in their second game. Both games took place on Feb. 21 at the Tejeda Sports Complex in San Antonio.
Jaguars swat the Yellow Jackets away
In their first game, the Jaguars defeated the Yellow Jackets 3-0.
From the opening pitch the Jaguars were aggressive. They quickly racked up the outs and scored just as fast, taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
The Jaguars also held their own defensively, led by senior pitcher Ebbie Rodriguez and junior catcher Sam Gaona. Rodriguez pitched consistently while Gaona kept the defense organized and connected.
The Yellow Jackets began to find a rhythm in the fifth inning, but the Jaguars clamped down defensively to prevent them from gaining any momentum.
Gaona emphasized how important communication is after each batter goes. She said it helps their defense prepare for the next one, keeping everyone on the field in tune with one another.
“Every pitch you see our defense shifts either right or left,” Gaona said. “That’s why we communicate to the outfield what pitch we’re going to call.”
Jaguars get stung in tense match-up
The Jaguars lost their second game against the Howard Payne University Yellow Jackets, 8-5.
The Yellow Jackets matched the defensive intensity the Jaguars had in the beginning of the first match, not giving them a chance to gain any momentum offensively.
They even mirrored their scoring by taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
In the bottom of the fifth the Jags mounted a short-lived comeback, scoring five unanswered points and taking the lead back 5-3.
The Yellow Jackets didn’t go quietly, and they tied up the score with a home run at the top of the sixth inning.
With that momentum the Yellow Jackets never looked back, beating the Jaguars 8-5.
Yaya Jones, a junior third baseman that hit the double that gave the Jaguars the lead in the fifth, said she felt the Yellow Jackets’ comeback deflated the team.
“We kind of slowed our pace down, but in the end that’s learning from mistakes,” Jones said.
Head coach Nicole Dufour said the team’s biggest point of improvement was consistency.
“I don’t think we came out ready,” Dufour said. “We [allowed] three runs right off the bat and then we’re working from a hole. We just need to come out ready and play 14 innings, not seven.”
The Jaguars’ next match will be their first conference games. They will play back-to-back games against the Huston-Tillotson University Rams at noon and 2 p.m. at Krieg Field in Austin.