Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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Lady Rattlers golf team takes silver at state

20180525 STLadyRattlersGolfIt may be Ashley Garza’s first year as the girls’ head golf coach at Sharyland High School, but she has led the Lady Rattlers to their best ever finish at the UIL Girls Golf State Championship. That’s because the Lady Rattlers’ team made up of Raquel Flores, Laura Rodriguez, Carolina Cantu, Amanda Shinn-Roldan and Paulina Flores had a two-day score of 644 to place second among the 12 5A teams that earned the right to compete at the state tournament which was played at the White Wing Golf Club in Georgetown, Texas Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Formerly the assistant girls’ golf coach at Sharyland Pioneer High School, Garza took over the Lady Rattlers extremely successful program this year after former head coach Fernando Rodriguez retired. How successful was the program under Rodriguez? Six trips to the state tournament over the past six years should give you a pretty good idea.

“This was the seventh year in a row that the Lady Rattlers have made State,” Garza said. “Their best finish prior to this was three years ago when they placed third.”

Going into the second day of the tournament, the Lady Rattlers were in fourth place, three strokes behind third place Midlothian, four strokes behind second place Magnolia and 19 strokes behind first place Grapevine. As a result, unless Grapevine completely collapsed on the second day, first place was pretty much out of their reach as they took to the course on Tuesday. However second and third place were well within their reach and as Garza explained, her girls came through when they really needed to.

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Smith’s Diamondbacks making program history

20180504 STBaseball BVMHS vs SPHSIt didn’t take long for Casey Smith’s winning ways to carry over to Pioneer High School.

After eight years as the head baseball coach at Mission Veterans lined with playoff appearances and district championships, Smith made the move to lead the Pioneer Diamondbacks. In just one season, his impact has been evident as the Diamondbacks qualified for postseason play for the first time in program history and are now onto the area round after picking up a bi-district championship last weekend.

“From the beginning, one of the things that we tried to change was the culture, and just the idea that we’re going to work at the end of the day and keep coming back,” Smith said. “I think the most improvement I saw was in their mentality and their work ethic. ... It was really neat from a personal standpoint; it’s nice because you get to see kids raise their level of play, raise their level of expectation, and can see the fruits of that labor for them come through. It’s neat to see the smile on their faces, the excitement and the feeling of accomplishment for them.”

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Pioneer’s Howell gold favorite

20180507 Johnny HowellTo say that UIL State gold medals are hard to come by would be an understatement. Literally thousands of high school athletes from across the Lone Star state dream of bringing home a gold medal, year-in and year-out, but only a handful of them ever experience the thrill and honor of standing atop the awards podium and having a state gold medal hung around their necks.

When it comes to the Rio Grande Valley, the number of athletes that bring state gold medals home with them on a yearly basis can usually be counted on one hand. That is why it is such a big deal to have a valley athlete go into the state track and field meet as the favorite to take the gold medal like Sharyland Pioneer shot putter Johnny Howell is.

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It ain’t over for four Big 7 baseball teams

20180402 Baseball VVHS vs SHS LG-24Legendary major league baseball player, coach and manager Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

While Berra was referring to the 1973 National League pennant race at the time he uttered this quote, it applies extremely well to the seasons of four Big 7 baseball teams today. That’s because while the majority of high school baseball teams across the state of Texas have seen their seasons come to an end, teams like the La Joya Coyotes, the Mission Eagles, the Sharyland Rattlers and the Pioneer Diamondbacks have earned the right to keep playing on.

That’s because despite the fact that two of those teams are playing under first-year coaches and one of those teams had never posted a winning record prior to this season, the Coyotes, Eagles, Rattlers and Diamondbacks have all qualified for post-season play.

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Pioneer boys, Mission Veterans and Palmview girls bring home area championships

20180427PioneerBoysTrackDistrict. Area. Regionals. State. With each passing meet, the competition gets tougher. Three Big 7 programs proved to be the toughest in their area as the Pioneer boys, Mission Veterans and Palmview girls track teams were crowned Area Champions on April 19 and 20.

It was a clean sweep in the UIL 5A Area 31/32 Track Meet as the Diamondbacks and Lady Patriots pushed their way to first place team finishes, beating out 16 other programs.

Pioneer Diamondbacks
The Pioneer Diamondbacks scored 101 team points, 13 more than second place Brownsville Veterans Memorial, to pick up their second consecutive area title. Led by gold medal performances in the shot put, high jump and the 4x200 and 4x400 relays, the Diamondbacks are sending six athletes to compete in individual competitions, in addition to all three relay teams.

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Three Big 7 softball teams claim titles

Softball-STACK1Last year five of the seven Mission, Sharyland and La Joya schools’ softball teams, the Big 7, extended their seasons into the post season. With only three of the seven qualifying for the state playoffs this year, the Big 7 may not have the quantity of teams in the playoffs, but it certainly has the quality. That’s because unlike last year, when only one of the five playoff teams was a district champion, this year all three teams representing the Big 7 in the playoffs are district champions; one outright and two co-champions. And with one of those three teams having gone undefeated, there’s no telling how deep into the playoffs one or more of those teams may go.

With the bi-district round of the UIL state playoffs being played this weekend, let’s take a look at the three Big 7 teams that earned the right to play-on when so many other teams are already looking forward to next year.

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