AP NEWS

Rockets blast off to rare territory

May 3, 2019

Judson senior first baseman Kadee Luna didn’t want to make more out of the situation than necessary.

With an opportunity to made an impact in a winner-take-all game, Luna told herself to just make contact. The simplest approach yielded the biggest results, propelling the Rockets to rare territory.

Sparked by Luna’s bases-loaded three-run double in the fifth inning, Judson defeated Johnson 4-2 Thursday in a Class 6A second-round series at Northside ISD Complex.

In winning the one-game series, the Rockets (26-9) advanced to the third round for the second time and the first since 1999. Judson will play Warren or Austin High.

“We know that we just have one game,” Luna said. “We’re going to bust our butts that much harder, have more fun.”

The Rockets accomplished their goal, defeating Johnson (23-15) for the third time. They also prevailed 4-1 on Feb. 23 at the East Central-Judson tournament and 4-3 in eight innings on Feb. 28 at the Seguin tournament.

The pivotal moment came in the fifth when outfielder Keely Williams reached on a one-out infield hit and moved to second when third baseman Destiny Rodriguez, who was 3 for 3, walked. Catcher Nyah Chapa reached on an error to load the bases with two outs.

Luna then drilled a shot that rolled to the left center-field wall, scoring Williams, Rodriguez and Chapa to put Judson up 4-0.

“Them getting on base, it made it more comfortable for me, and more relaxed, and I just needed a base hit just to score one run,” Luna said. “I wasn’t expecting that (bases-loaded double), but hey, it came out like that and I’m proud.”

Luna’s clutch hit tilted a contest delayed 10 minutes because of rain in the top of the third, on that early on appeared as if it would be a pitching duel between Judson’s Emily Ayala and Johnson’s Kailey Brown.

Judson scored a run in the fourth when shortstop Melissa Gonzalez singled in Arianna Alejandro, who pinch-ran for Rodriguez.

The Rockets turned to Ayala from there. The Jaguars (23-15) pulled within 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth on senior outfielder Kendall Wiles’ two-out, two-run single, but otherwise were held in check by Ayala.

“It was just about trusting the coaches, and what they called,” Ayala said after improving to 3-0 vs. Johnson this year. “I knew my team had my back, even if I missed my spot. That’s the good part about it.”

tthomas@express-news.net

Twitter: @en_terrence