Warriors ride pitching gem, timely hits into first place
Warren senior third baseman Lauryn Hernandez said she has felt the perception and mindset change all season.
Hernandez has seen it in how she, her teammates and others view the Warriors in the aftermath of last year’s landmark season that fell one win short of a UIL Class 6A state tournament berth.
What hasn’t changed? Warren’s penchant for dominating pitching from Annika Litterio, solid defense and coming up big in the clutch.
Those attributes were on display as the No. 3 Warriors blanked No. 2 Holmes 3-0 in a showdown for first place in District 28-6A on a windy Saturday at the Northside ISD Complex.
Warren avenged a 2-1 loss vs. Holmes on Feb. 27 to take the inside track to its first district title. The Warriors finished second to Holmes in 2018.
“We want to prove that we weren’t a fluke, and that we can do it because we all have faith in each other,” said Hernandez, who went 2 for 3 with a double, triple and two runs. “We’ve just got to stay within ourselves. We can’t go out and try to do more than we are. We’ve just got to play our game. When we play our game, we play great.”
As was the case in 2018 when the Warriors (15-4, 11-1) advanced to the Region IV-6A final with a roster that included only one senior and a handful of freshmen making key contributions, they manufactured a win behind fundamentals.
Warren racked up 10 hits — sophomore second baseman Dynasty Harpel was 3 for 3 with a double, and sophomore shortstop Austin Germain added two hits — but stranded 10 runners. The Warriors twice left the bases loaded but received enough timely hitting to prevail.
First baseman Tori Jimenez’s sacrifice fly in the fifth inning drove home Hernandez, who led off the inning with a triple. Hernandez led off the third with a double, moved to third on a groundout and scored when a popup dropped between two Holmes players.
Senior outfielder Cassie Davis’ second-inning single scored freshman utility player Allie Cruz, who reached on an infield hit, moved to third on Harpel’s double then recorded the winning run.
“We definitely love the pressure,” Hernandez said. “We love the feeling of, ‘All right, we’ve got to get this out. We’ve got to come clutch right here.’ We love picking each other up.”
Litterio, a sophomore pitcher who a year ago made the Express-News’ Super Team, did some heavy lifting for the Warriors. She tossed a complete-game one-hitter and had 11 strikeouts. Litterio struck out the first five Holmes batters she faced and seven of the first nine. She allowed Holmes (16-3, 10-2) only three base runners.
“Last year, no one had seen me, so I was just able to throw it pretty hard past them and get the strikeouts or the outs that we needed,” Litterio said. “This year, I have to learn the batters, understand the game, and pitch to what their weaknesses are and my strong suit.”