AP NEWS

Knights stay strong without senior standout, thump Providence

April 9, 2019

All-stater Brianna Rangel has arguably been Holy Cross’ most valuable player for four seasons. Now the Knights are learning to play without her, a little earlier than expected.

Rangel, who had eight home runs, was injured in practice in late March. The Midland College commit sustained fractures in her nose, nasal cavity and orbital bone. She was expected to miss six weeks but may return for the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Maggie Nava has shifted from first base to catcher to replace Rangel and Holy Cross has kept rolling.

The Knights (17-8-1, 5-0) remained undefeated in TAPPS District 3-II with wins over San Antonio Christian (10-10, 3-2) 10-1 April 1 and Providence (10-5, 3-2) 10-0 April 4. Those teams are Holy Cross’ closest district challengers.

“I told the kids that losing a girl like Brianna would create a void,” veteran Holy Cross coach Angel Cedillo said. “But if we get a piece from the other eight starters, we’re going to fill that void together. We’re going to get as far as we can get, so that if God wills it, we’ll be there so Brianna gets another chance to play.”

Make a difference

Rangel had been batting about .600 to supplement her defense and leadership. Sophomore pitcher Janelle Martinez explained what Rangel’s presence and her absence meant and what the team has been doing to help bridge the gap.

Martinez said she and Nava were working together with Cedillo to call pitches.

“Maggie and I have connected very well,” said Martinez, who didn’t allow Providence a hit until the top of the fifth. “Whenever I want the ball on the inside or the outside, she makes the call.”

But Martinez said she’s hoping she gets to play with Rangel again.

“Brianna’s an amazing catcher and she frames the ball very well,” Martinez said. “She has helped me so much. I’ll be so grateful if I get to work with her again.”

Holy Cross took a 4-0 lead on Providence in the first inning. Sarah Rangel, Darrian Barrera and Daisi Salas contributed RBIs.

Sarah Rangel also drove in shortstop Analysa Vasquez in the second inning. Rangel is Brianna’s cousin. She played for the Knights in 2016 and 2017, but transferred to Holmes last year.

“Sarah is doing a great job hitting the ball and she anchors the defense,” Cedillo said.

Providence’s youth

Caroline Medina led off the Providence fifth with an infield single that broke up Martinez’s no hitter.

“I have a very young team,” Providence coach Kat Chavarria said. “Physically, they’re very good, they just don’t carry it over mentally against a team like Holy Cross. I reminded them that last year, we played (Holy Cross) a lot better the second game.

“We were doing very well in district. It’s just that a couple of teams have pitchers that are much faster than the other teams. We just have to keep working.”

Martinez did not issue another hit against the Provets, who crunched Austin Hyde Park 18-1 April 2. Providence didn’t hit a ball to the outfield in five innings.

“My coach has been helping me,” Martinez said. “I’ve been working very hard on getting my spots down.”

A run-scoring single by Charlize Moreno and an RBI double by Alexia Olivo keyed a five-run Holy Cross rally in the fifth.

“I feel like we have a team that can go farther,” Martinez said, well aware that the Knights reached the state semifinals before losing to champion Fort Bend Christian in 2018.

“At the final four last year, we talked about life problems and what we wanted to do. It brought us so much closer.”