Santa Gertrudis Academy tops No. 1 Grandview to advance to state title game

AUSTIN — The Santa Gertrudis Academy softball team placed an emphasis on defense, knowing the Lions would be playing freshmen in the circle in 2023.

Those gloves came into play on Wednesday at Red & Charline McCombs Field in the Class 3A state semifinals, helping a five-run second stand up in a 6-3 win to advance to Thursday's state championship game.

The Lions turned three double plays to back up D'Andra Fernandez and thwart the top-ranked Zebras in both school's first appearance at state since 2018.

"Credit to D'Andra for giving us those opportunities," Santa Gertrudis Academy coach Thomas De Los Santos said. "I don't think we've ever had two, much less three in the same game, and he were are in the state semifinal game and pull three. Our defense is superb — the best we've ever had. We knew going into the season we had freshmen pitching.

"We really put an emphasis on defense."

SGA used a five-spot in the second inning after falling behind 1-0 in the first.

Santa Gertrudis Academy faced Grandview in a Class 3A UIL State Softball semifinal at Red And Charline McCombs Stadium in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

Carina Palacios reached on a walk after her pop out was called back due to an illegal pitch called on Grandview freshman star pitcher Madi Doty. Trinity Silguero's RBI single was followed by Julia Guerrero's two-run single and capped by a bases-clearing triple from Taylor Reyes.

"We knew we had to responded quickly," junior shortstop Audi Mireles said, who started two double plays. "We saw what (Doty) had and the first three batters talked to the other girls and told them what she was throwing. They knew what they had to do to hit the ball. We stayed positive, because we always do. We knew we would come back."

Guerrero was 2-3 with two RBI for the Lions while Reyes had one triple and a solo home run in the fifth.

Santa Gertrudis Academy (40-5) will face Coahoma or Rains at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Class 3A state championship game.

Santa Gertrudis Academy's Carina Palacios scores against Grandview in a UIL Class 3A state softball semifinal at Red and Charline McCombs Stadium in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

Wednesday's highlights

Grandview freshman pitcher Madi Doty struck out the first three Santa Gertrudis Academy batters, turning it over to the Zebras' offense in the bottom of the first.

Grandview capitalized on a leadoff single from Sydney Mann and an RBI single from Jaley James to take a 1-0 lead eight pitches into the game.

Fernandez settled in to limit the damage to the single run, setting up SGA's second-inning heroics.

Palacios walked after initially popping out but she was called back to the plate after an illegal pitch was called on Doty.

Kieanna Cruz bunted Palacios over and an error allowed Alexxis Moreno to reach to load the bases.

Trinity Silguero and Guerrero gave the Lions a 3-1 lead before Taylor Reyes' triple dealt a huge blow bringing in two runs and giving SGA the 5-1 advantage.

After the second-inning outburst, it was the Lions defense that dominated the game. Hannah Reyes, who sped from third to all the way near home plate and laid out to catch a foul pop for the first out in the second inning, turned a 5-3 double play to end the third.

Mireles started double plays in the fourth and fifth to stop any Grandview momentum until the sixth.

Thursday's stars

Reyes was 2 for 4 with a two-run triple and a solo home run to pace Santa Gertrudis Academy with three RBI.

The 7-8-9 hitters for the Lions combined for five hits. Silguero was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Guerrero was 2 for 2 with two RBI.

Fernandez had one strikeout and scattered eight hits, inducing three double plays.

Mann, James and Doty all finished with two hits for the Zebras.

They said it

Santa Gertrudis Academy coach Thomas De Los Santos on the second inning answer and figuring out Grandview pitcher Madi Doty: "Our lineup has no weakness. We were trying to find out at the beginning of the game. It wasn't fun to be the first three hitters to see what she had. We knew she hit 68 but it is different hitting off a machine vs. someone with movement. We took a little while to adjust. The middle and bottom of the lineup came through, which they had all year."

Santa Gertrudis Academy third baseman Hannah Perales on her diving grab in the second and the play of the Lions defense: "We work on it day-in and day-out. Every day. No matter what I knew that any ball that was in the air or any ball that was on the ground, we were going to do anything we can to make a play for our pitcher."

Santa Gertrudis Academy junior shortstop on turning three double plays and backing up D'Andra Fernandez: "I knew we had to be there for our pitcher. We knew they were capable of hitting the ball and we needed to be on our 'A' game no matter what. Expect every ball to come to you. All of us stepped up today and I'm really proud of how we did today."

This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: SGA softball beats Grandview to advance to state title game