SINTON - Industrial had the perfect start to the second game of its Class 2A regional semifinal series: Terri Kurtz brought in the silver noisemakers to excite the Cobras, they had the momentum and more importantly had an early lead.
But, a pair of five-run outbursts in the third and fourth inning were enough for Santa Gertrudis Academy to eliminate Industrial 11-1 Friday night.
No matter how much rhythmic clapping and chanting the Cobras fans and their Kurtz-provided noisemakers could muster, the venomous bats from the home team were too much for Industrial.
The District 26-2A champions end their season 24-8. Santa Gertrudis Academy (23-2) swept the series and will play San Diego or reigning state champion Danbury for a berth in the state tournament.
Through two innings, Industrial pitcher Miranda Hogsed didn't allow a hit to a team that averaged more than a dozen runs a game. She quickly retired the first two batters of the third, before the "bobble that put us in orbit."
The bobble was on a week grounder Santa Gertrudis Academy catcher Ashley Perez hit toward third. The Lions' first hit of the game kept the inning alive and signaled for the rest of the team to wake up from their offensive slumber.
"Everything was working for us. We had a bobble that put us in orbit. It was a simple, routine play and we just went downhill from there," said Industrial softball coach Chasity Matula. "You have to give it to Santa Gertrudis Academy, they have good sticks. They swing the bat hard. We let our brain get in the way. We let mental mistakes get us."
By the time Kim Ruiz grounded out to third, the Lions scored five runs on three singles, two walks and a two RBI double from pitcher Kristi Rangel.
This series was determined in the third and fourth innings of both games. In Game 1 Industrial loaded the bases in both frames, but could not produce the big hits. In Game 2, Santa Gertrudis Academy loaded the bases in both frames, and scored a combined 10 runs.
"The girls don't give up. All nine of my hitters are strong hitters, some have good days some have bad days," said Santa Gertrudis Academy softball coach Olinda Salazar. "Kristi, my pitcher, (Thursday) night couldn't hit squat. (Friday) when we were warming up I said 'Kristi you are going to be on tonight' and she says 'I feel good too.' They don't get down with two outs, they don't. That's just another challenge for them."
Rangel finished with a pair of doubles and 5 RBIs Friday night. After allowing a run in the first inning, the sophomore allowed just one more base runner.
Jordin Jones singled in the top of the first for Industrial. A Hogsed double to the gap in right field brought in Jones to give the Cobras a 1-0 lead. Hogsed was thrown out at third to end the inning.
Nevertheless, the Cobras were confident they could produce more offense.
Friday's loss ended the varsity careers of Hogsed, catcher Bianca Moreno and first basemen Lauren Kurtz. The trio has been in the program for four years and their departure was not an easy one for anyone in maroon and black.
"We're definitely excited. We made our first goal," said Moreno, noting the team's return to the regional semifinals. "Our second goal was to get past it. It was definitely a great season. They have a lot of potential and it's going to be a lot of fun to come back and watch."
With a smile, Moreno noted how special it was for her sister, Darcie, to throw out a runner at the plate in the series because usually Bianca drops the ball while applying the tag.
There were tears, which were inevitable, considering how close this team has become through the years. Matula, in her fourth year at Industrial, said the Class of 2012 will always be special because they were part of her first group.
"For four years they have done everything I have asked of them," Matula said. ".To see the willingness of those girls to make a sacrifice for their team over four years shows they are true team players and very coachable."
If there is one thing the Cobras hope to learn before next spring, it's the ability to bounce back from mistakes. The Cobras had three sophomores and two freshmen in their starting lineup Friday night, and that didn't include sophomore third baseman Brittany Berger who missed the game after catching a cleat to the knee in Thursday's 7-3 loss.
"We made mistakes and we didn't pick each other up," said Industrial sophomore Madison Garza. "We were dragging ourselves down. I think we could have played better as a team."
If they can keep their heads when all around them are losing theirs the Cobras have the foundation for a strong team next year, Matula said.
Even, in defeat there was evidence Industrial might be a team few want to see next year.
"Industrial is an awesome team. You could see it in their discipline and the way they played," Salazar said. "The girls knew they had to come out and play. We came out and started slow. But, the girls just don't give up. They wanted it more than anything to have a shot at that regional final again. They weren't going to let anyone stand in their way at that point."
Santa Gertrudis Academy 11, Industrial 1
Industrial 100 00 - 1 3 2
SGA 005 51 - 11 7 0
W: Kristi Rangel, L: Miranda Hogsed; Doubles: (Industrial) Hogsed, (Santa Gertrudis Academy) Danielle Gonzales, Rangel (2). Highlights: (Industrial) Jordin Jones 1-2, R, Hogsed 1-2, 2B, RBI, (Santa Gertrudis Academy) Ashley Perez 2-4, RBI, 2 R, Celeste Castillo 1-2, 2R, 3RBI, Rangel 2-3, 2 2B, 5 RBIs, 5 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 4K.
Records: Industrial 24-8, Santa Gertrudis Academy 23-2.