The 2018 Yellow Jackets are primed and ready to make another run at the playoffs. The Jackets are lead by their sensational seniors: Ashley Colunga, Bailey Richey, Kassandra Vargas and Julia Vazquez. Junior, Laila Gonzalez is set to break out after a solid sophomore season in 2017. The Yellow Jackets are filling the void of losing 10 seniors from last years Bi-District Championship team, but with the young talent and program veterans on the varsity roster, the Jackets are looking to hit the ground running and make some noise in 23-5A.

 

GPHS Softball Update - Marshall
The Jackets were rained out of their March 29th match up versus the Marshall Buffs. The game was instead played on Monday, April 2nd. Marshall did little more than bat the line-up in this one. Galena Park hit and ran bases at will but elected to take outs by leaving base early rather than run up the score beyond the 15 runs needed to end it in three. Of the 11 G.P. hits, extra bases were earned by: Freshman Zoie Garcia (IPHR, 3B), Senior Bailey Richey (3B, 3B) Senior Ashley Colunga (2B), and Freshman Elaine Gonzalez (IPHR). Junior Laila Gonzalez went three for three. She was also the Jacket’s starting pitcher. She faced eight batters in two innings of work, allowing no runs on no hits with two strikeouts. Sophomore Abby Chavez closed it with seven pitches, striking out two. Final score: G.P. 15 – Marshall 0.


Shout out to G.P. softball alumna, Irma Gonzalez.  She will graduate from Texas A&M in May with two certificates from Bio Agriculture Engineering. She is a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Century Scholars Organization, and an organization for Process Safety and Therapeutic Manufacturing. Congratulations Irma!


Elkins arrived early on Tuesday, April 3rd to insure both games could be played ahead of bad weather. The altered start times did not affect attendance, both sides were well represented. The junior varsity game was a close contest. G.P. started sophomore Alayna Cain and used freshman Mariah Gaytan to pitch in relief. They did enough to keep pace with the Elkins starter. The game was tied at five in the bottom of the third. Freshman Judy Danas and sophomore Julian Garcia found their way on with back to back singles. Both runners would score with assistance from a couple of Elkins errors and a sac fly from sophomore Hailey Sanchez. Sophomore Graisi Arizpe was hit with a pitch and freshman Alexis Garcia benefitted from another error. Both were pinch hitting and then lifted for re-entering starters Natalie Macias (Fr.) and Alyana Cain to run for themselves. Sophomore Kassandra Pena plated them both with a single. Time expired and the Jackets were victorious. The final score: G.P. 9 – Elkins 5. Judy Danas was two for two, as was Julian Garcia. Julian’s first hit was a double.


The varsity game had an equally close start. Elkins has historically been a pesky team that always makes things interesting for the Jackets. They came out strong, scoring in both the first and third innings. Just as in the JV game, the bottom of the third saw G.P. take up their bats tied with their opponents. And, just as in the JV game, the Jackets came alive. It was a nightmare inning for the Knights. Senior Bailey Richey led off with a single in spite of an outstanding effort from the Elkins centerfielder. Then the wheels fell off for the visiting team. Seven hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and three errors later the Knights were toast. The Jackets went up the necessary 15 runs to end it. Richey busted things wide open with a grand slam during her second at bat in the inning but freshman Zoie Garcia made it a walk off with her three run homer seven batters later. Richey and Garcia had quite the night. Richey was three for three with five RBIs. Garcia was three for three with a double in addition to the homerun. She also had five RBI’s. Seniors Julia Vazquez and Ashley Colunga also hit for an extra base. Senior Kassandra Vargas got the win. She allowed two earned runs on six hits with four strike outs in her three innings of work. Freshman third baseman Elaine Gonzalez helped Vargas work out of some trouble in the third with a stellar play. With runners on first and second, Gonzalez laid out for a bunt popped up just beyond the catcher’s reach in front of home plate. It was quite the snag but she punctuated it by scrambling up to fire back to second baseman Ashley Colunga who was covering first. It was a much needed inning ending double play!  Another victory in the books for the Jackets! G.P. 17 – Elkins 2 Galena Park is now 18 – 4 overall and 10 – 2 in district play.

 

 

GPHS Softball Update - Willowridge
G.P. completes the first round of district play with a win against Willowridge. The Jackets made the road trip to Willowridge Tuesday, March 20th. The junior varsity team got an easy win with offense to spare.

 

The varsity match-up went no better for Willowridge. The Jackets put up 18 runs in three inning making it a short night’s work. Sophomore Abby Chavez got the start. She pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two, and allowing one hit. Junior Laila Gonzalez went to the circle for the third and completed the shutout. Meanwhile, the Eagles were unable to keep the Jackets off base. If a strike was thrown, it got hit…18 times. Extra bases were earned by: Senior Bailey Richey (triple & double), senior Kassandra Vargas (two doubles), senior Julia Vazquez (two doubles), and freshman Elaine Gonzalez who was three for three with a double. But as brutal as this game was for the home team, it was apparent that they  enjoyed playing. They were excited and proud of things done well and received lots of positive reinforcement from their coach. Both the JV and varsity teams crossed the field with smiles on their faces and cheerful greetings for their opponents.  For Galena Park this game allowed everyone some work and closed the first round with a win. They will face Shadow Creek on Friday, March 23rd beginning the second round in solid playoff contention.


The Jackets played host to Shadow Creek to begin the second round of district action on March 23rd. The junior varsity came out swinging, scoring four runs in the first inning. Sophomore Kassandra Pena lead off with a triple to start the offensive onslaught. Teammates Natalie Vale (Fr.), Judy Danas (Fr.), Mariah Gaytan (Fr.), and Julian Garcia (So.)  followed with hits that insured the lead. Pena and Vale would both go two for three in their night’s work with freshman Alexis Lance adding a single in the third to bring the hit total to eight. Sophomore Graisi Arizpe’s sac fly to center earned her an RBI to go with Judy Danas and Julian Garcia’s contributions of two RBIs each. Mariah Gaytan pitched a good one. She allowed one run in four innings of work. The final score was G.P. 7 – S.C. 1.


Senior Kassandra Vargas proved equally stingy while pitching the varsity game. She allowed one run on five hits in a 11 to 1 victory. The Jackets tallied 13 hits. Extra bases were earned by freshman Zoie Garcia who went three for four with a double, senior Bailey Richey (2B), and senior Julia Vazquez (3B). It was a short night for the Jackets. Zoie Garcia lead off the fifth with a single, stole second and was driven in by Bailey Richey to create the run rule win.

 

G.P. suffered a disappointing loss to Manvel on March 27th. Leaving runners on base and inopportune mistakes landed the Jackets on the short end of the stick in this game. In spite of out hitting their opponents 7 to 3 Galena Park could not generate the offense they needed when it mattered most. However, kudos do go out to junior Laila Gonzalez and sophomore Viviana Alaniz who both hit triples helping to keep hope alive until the final out. Senior Bailey Richey threw five and one third innings of good softball. She allowed two earned runs with six strikeouts but a hit, error, hit batter, and a double in the bottom of the sixth gave Manvel a 4 – 2 victory.  It was a quiet bus ride home, but the Jackets are still in second place in district standing and look to rebound quickly.

 

 

GPHS Softball Update - Marshall
The JV squad recorded their second district win with a 12 – 5 victory over the Buffs. That 12 runs were scored with no hits tells the story. Marshall’s pitching struggled. Sophomore Alayna Cain proved much more effective for Galena Park. She struck out three and allowed her defense to work. Shout out to freshman Judy Dangs for her extra effort trying to chase down a foul ball while at first base. Judy gave fans a moment’s pause as she ran through a mud puddle near the visitor dugout and found herself in an unplanned slide.  Fortunately, she jumped up and continued play in spite of a large skid mark down her back. Gonna need some Oxi Clean for that uniform!


The varsity game was a rout. Although the Marshall players displayed heart and improvement from last year’s showings, they were no match for the Jackets. Senior Bailey Richey threw 34 pitches in three innings to nine batters, recording 8 Ks. The Buffs cleanup batter managed a roller up the first baseline that senior Kassandra Vargas easily gobbled up to complete the perfect game. Marshall did get to take home an outstanding first inning of work. They turned a double play that ended the inning without the Jackets scoring but that would be as good as it would get for the Buffs. Galena Park plated 16 runs in the second. This allowed the 15 runs after three rule to make it a short evening of softball.  Kassandra Vargas claimed the only extra base hit with at three run triple to right center. She, along with Bailey Richey, and juniors Julissa Guerra and Valeria Villarreal all produced multiple RBIs in this one. 

 


GPHS Softball Update - Manvel
The junior varsity teams were well matched and made this a good game to watch for their respective fans. Sophomore Alyana Cain allowed only two hits in four innings of work. Jacket bats doubled that, but unfortunately they also committed twice as many errors and that was the difference in the game. The JV team battled to the final out but fell 4 to 3. They are now 2-1 in district play.


The Mavericks earned second place in last year’s 23-5A championship race. They finished  2017 with a strong second half, so Coach Richey viewed this game as her team’s biggest challenge so far. Senior Kassandra Vargas confidently took the ball to the circle for the Jackets and worked her magic through five. The middle of the Mavericks order found some success the third time around and managed to score a run in the sixth but that was too little, too late. The Jackets had come alive right out of the gate.  Freshman Zoie Garcia lead off with a double. Three batters later Vargas provided what would ultimately be enough to win the game with one swing, adding a second homerun to her tally this season. As the game continued her teammates would plate four more just for insurance. Junior Laila Gonzalez hit a triple in the third and was driven in as Bailey Richey followed her with a double. Richey eventually  scored on a fielding error.  Ashley Colunga lead off the fourth inning with double but was left on base. With two outs, sophomore Viviana Alaniz took one for team in the bottom of the sixth and was conveniently on base for Garcia’s second two bagger of the evening.   G.P. took it to the house with a 6 to 1 victory and their third district win. This game was punctuated with some outstanding defensive work.  Jacket fans are getting to enjoy watching the seniors make their mark as they are collectively leaving no question that they want to take it as far as they can this season. In addition to the contribution Vargas made in the circle and the batter’s box, seniors Julia Vazquez, Ashley Colunga, and Bailey Richey all had moments of exceptional play in this game. Replay worthy catches were made by both Vazquez and Richey but the gold star play came in sixth inning as Manvel was showing momentum with runners on second and third. A shot was hit just to the first base side of the second base bag taking Colunga a long way to make the play. She not only made the scoop but managed to turn and throw with just enough on it to get the ball to an outstretched Richey at first. This ended Manvel’s most significant threat of the evening. Richey came in to pitch the seventh in relief.  That’s when it became a freshman’s moment to shine. Zoie Garcia is as outstanding at shortstop as she is as a leadoff batter. Her speed and ability to read the ball off the bat earned her an scorekeeper’s exclamation mark for her great catch in shallow left field. She robbed Manvel of a leadoff base runner. The Mavericks went down 1,2,3.

 

G.P. will play on Tuesday, March 6th at Elkins then return home to host Galveston Ball on Friday, March 9th.  Games times are 5:00 and 6:30. Spring Break will begin with the Jackets in Texas City on March 10th. The JV game will start at noon, varsity at 1:30.

 

 

GPHS Softball Update - Crosby Varsity Tournament
The Lady Jacket varsity softball team competed at the Crosby Varsity Tournament February 22nd -24th. The Jackets came to this tournament knowing that it would be very competitive and a good learning opportunity before entering into the heart of district play. Learn they did! They learned they can win against good teams! Galena Park recorded four wins and one (ITB) loss in the course of three days.


Bridge City was the first opponent. Senior Kassandra Vargas was in the circle and threw a superb game.  She held this hard hitting team to one unearned run on two hits, striking out four. The Jacket offense got going early, plating three runs in the first inning. Freshman Zoie Garcia drew a leadoff walk. Two hole hitter, junior Laila Gonzalez landed a single and senior Bailey Richey was hit with a pitch. With the bases juiced, cleanup batter Kassandra Vargas grabbed an RBI with a sac fly to center. That worked so well senior catcher Julia Vaquez did it too. Senior Ashley Colunga contributed a single to keep the inning alive for freshman Elaine Gonzalez to drive in the third run. Two more runs scored in the third. Vargas, Vasquez, Colunga, and Gonzalez again getting things done. This forced Bridge City to send their ace SFA commit, Kassidy Wilbur to the rubber for the fourth.  Zoie Garcia again worked a leadoff walk and flew around to score when senior Bailey Richey sat back on a changeup for a double. The Jackets would not score again but the five run lead held up. In spite of a run allowing error in the second inning, the GP defense was outstanding.  Vargas pitched with such efficiency, Bridge City went three up three down in three of the five innings played and she faced only 18 batters. The Jackets recorded eight hits. Freshman Elaine Gonzalez and senior Ashley Colunga were both two for three with Gonzalez claiming three RBIs. It was a great start for Galena Park.


Game two was played against Huffman. This was a low scoring pitcher’s duel. Senior Bailey Richey took the ball for the Jackets. She gave up a double to the second batter in the first inning. That runner would score but that was all she would let them have. Six strike outs and the Jacket’s “eat ‘em up” defense made it a frustrating afternoon for Huffman. But, G.P. experienced frustration themselves, striking out four times in the first two innings. Luckily, the third inning began with junior Julissa Guerra’s quick feet generating two bases on an errant throw from the catcher as a result of a dropped third strike. Sophomore Vivianna Alaniz would hit a single deep enough to plate the first run and take second as a throw was attempted at home. Freshman Zoie Garcia sacrifice bunted Alaniz to third and junior Laila Gonazalez would finish moving her around. G.P. scored again in the fourth as senior Kassandra Vargas got things going hitting a single and gaining a bonus base thanks to a fielding error. Junior Alejandra Hernandez came in to run for her and was driven home by senior Julia Vazquez’ clutch single.  Three runs was enough to do it and G.P. had its second victory.


G.P. drew Bryan for game three played on Friday, February 23rd. The Jackets took the lead early. Freshman Zoie Garcia led off the game taking a hard hit to the knee. She got second on an illegal pitch, then junior Laila Gonzalez   moved her to third with a sac bunt. Three hole hitter, Bailey Richey dropped a single to plate the run. Senior Kassandra Vargas then went to the circle with the lead and was brilliant for five innings. Back to back to back hits in the sixth from Viviana Alaniz, Zoie Garcia, and Laila Gonzalez would pad the score with two more runs. Alas in the sixth inning the tide began to turn as Vargas faltered a bit, giving up three hits, a base on balls, and an earned run, but it was a two out fielding error that allowed the tying runs to score. As per the tournament rules, since time had expired the game now went into ITB (International Tie Breaker). Play begins each half of the inning with a runner at second base. Perhaps slightly unfamiliar with this format, G.P. base runners made two quick mistakes and were thrown out at home just as it looked like they would be setting up shop for multiple runs. A strikeout later the Jackets had their backs against the wall. Senior Bailey Richey was sent in to pitch in relief. An intentional walk was awarded to the first batter. She struck out the next one, then induced a ground ball that resulted in an outstanding 6 – 5 put out of the lead runner. But as the game sometimes goes, the next play resulted in a throwing error that ended it with G.P. taking a loss. The Jackets left the field disappointed but with some important lessons learned in regard to base running and remaining composed under pressure.


Tomball waited across the complex so the Jackets had to flush the loss quickly. The Cougars pitching staff presented a significant change of speed and G.P. had to go through the lineup once before making adjustments. The Jackets scored in the fourth. Bailey Richey led off the inning with a double. Courtesy runner, junior Alejandra Hernandez was moved to third when Kassandra Vargas laid down a sac bunt. She was driven home with a two base shot generated from Ashley Colunga. In the fifth, sophomore Vivianna Alaniz and freshman Zoie Garcia set the table for Richey’s hot bat to add two RBIs to the book. But, the scoring was not over. With two outs recorded in the top of the sixth, Colunga hit a single. Freshman Elaine Gonzalez and junior Julissa Guerra followed suit, adding another run. For good measure G.P. manufactured two more in the seventh as Tomball pitching struggled a bit with control. Freshman Zoie Garcia and senior Kassandra Vargas drew walks.  Seniors Ashley Colunga and Julia Vazquez pushed them across the plate. Ashley Colunga was four for four and Bailey Richey three for four in this effort.  Richey also had a great game in the circle. She pitched seven innings, giving up one run, striking out six, and throwing out five.  The game ended with an outstanding catch made by junior centerfielder Laila Gonzalez. The final score was a 6-1 Yellowjacket victory.


The Jackets returned on Saturday, February 24th to play Goose Creek Memorial. G.P. played a sloppy scrimmage versus G.C.M. earlier in the month, so the Jackets took the opportunity to redeem themselves. Showing discipline at the plate as Goose Creek pitching struggled to throw strikes consistently, the Jackets produced six runs in the top of the first. Junior Nicole Vale claimed two RBIs off her double to left center.  Goose Creek appeared to have regrouped for the top of the second getting two quick outs. However, senior catcher Julia Vazquez was not obliged to give them three up, three down. She hit a single that extended the inning for second baseman Ashley Colunga. Ashley took the first pitch yard right over the center field fence with a monster swing. G.P. added two more runs in the third allowing senior Kassandra Vargas to take a ten run lead into the bottom of the inning. Vargas was once again pitching well and had recorded two outs when things went mildly off script. The G.C.M. bats came alive and strung together enough hits to plate four runs before G.P. could end the inning. Senior Bailey Richey would enter the circle for the fourth, three up, three down, G.P. wins.


Shout Out to all the G.P. reserves! Your quick feet and ability to step into the batter’s box adds a depth to this team that is appreciated and noticed!


Upcoming
First District Home Game vs Marshall on Tuesday, February 27th
JV – 5:00   Varsity 6:30 

 

 

GPHS Softball Update - Shadow Creek
The JV Jackets set the tone for the evening at Shadow Creek with a 14 to 3 victory over the Lady Sharks. Pitching was an issue for the home team and Galena Park took advantage. Patience and discipline at the plate resulted in consistently reaching base on four balls.  Luckily, G.P. pitcher sophomore Alayna Cain proved capable of finding the strike zone. She recorded five strike outs in three innings of work and threw for contact her defense could handle.


The varsity team also started district play with a decisive victory.  This game was won in the second inning with G.P. putting seven runs on the board and never looking back. Meanwhile, senior Bailey Richey effectively shut down the Shark offense. She allowed one single and recorded eight strike outs.  Galena Park bats went wild with run support. The final score was G.P. – 16 and Shadow Creek - 0 after five. There were 14 hits spread up and down the line-up. Richey helped her cause going three of four with a double but fellow seniors Julia Vazquez and Kassandra Vargas were really on fire, hitting two doubles each. Vargas was four for four in her night’s work at the plate. Freshman shortstop Zoie Garcia put a triple in the books as her first district hit. Fellow freshman, Elaine Gonzalez was two for four, earning her first hit during her first at bat. Juniors Julissa Guerra and Jocelyn Longoria are making their presence known as well. Jocelyn punctuated a bid for playing time with a well thrown 9 – 3 put out and Julissa is proving dependable at the plate and on the bases as the DH. Good job G.P.!

 

 

GPHS Softball Update - North Shore Tournament
The North Shore Tournament was a welcome opportunity for the Lady Jackets to get rolling. Recent rains hampered the team’s ability to get in much field practice and then caused the cancellation of the season’s first schedule home game against Channelview, so the five game round robin format was just what was needed to start getting into a groove.  Galena Park went four and one overall, soundly defeating Lutheran South Academy, Concordia, and South Houston. Lamar proved to be more competitive but G.P. prevailed 3 to 1. Unfortunately Dayton had no problem reminding the Jackets that they have quite a bit of work to do before meeting a team of their caliber again. But, that is work this team is willing to do.  A shout out for this tournament goes to Senior Kassandra Vargas for the first homerun of the season against Lamar.
Galena Park will be participating in the Crosby Varsity Tournament February 22 – 24.

 

 

The Amazing Race to the Playoffs
In 2015 the Galena Park softball coaching staff stole a page from Baylor University’s team bonding playbook and came up with the Amazing Race to Playoffs. Teams of three to four players are formed with a focus on mixing up different grade and skill levels to encourage getting to know each other better and learning to work together. The teams compete in activities designed to reinforce skills, test softball knowledge, strengthen and condition, and of course be lots of fun.  It has been a rousing success that returning players look forward to each year. This year’s Amazing Race was held on Saturday, February 10th but festivities were not dampened one bit by the day’s rain. Coach Richey creatively moved the competition indoors and the results were hilarious. The annual costume contest produced some witty and crafty creations. There were life sized trophies, the cast of Mario Cart, the three little pigs, and visitors from Sesame Street on hand. The Bench Warmers showed up with the boys from Sand Lot and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Dora the Explorer found her way in only to discover that the dominoes were too big for a backpack. Everyone looked great but Mario Cart drove away with the win for best costumes. Other events included a Paper, Rock, Scissors tournament that proved to be unexpectedly intense, a scavenger hunt, dizzy bat, an egg toss, puzzle challenge, and skill stations. The day ended with pulled pork sandwiches and sopapilla cheesecake. Team Sesame Street (Sr. Julia Vazquez, So. Barbara Martinez, and Fr. Aaliyha Sanchez) were this year’s winners!  They will not have to pick up equipment after practice for the rest of the year! Coaches Richey, Vela, and McGraw went above and beyond the call of duty to give up their Saturday to create this fun event for their girls. And for what it is worth, G.P. has in fact raced to playoffs two of the three years since the Amazing Race began. Here’s hoping they build up steam to get to the postseason once again!  

 

 

 

 

2018 Softball Season Begins!
The Lady Jackets are working hard and show promise for a successful season to come. Eight seniors graduated from last year’s playoff team so this is definitely a rebuilding year. Yet, Coach Richey reports she is excited about this team. She says that this group of players may well be the most motivated she has worked with to date. She cites a fantastic team chemistry, excellent work ethic, and spirit of cooperation as key factors that have produced very positive results so far. She sees G.P. as a real contender in District 23-5A.  It also doesn’t hurt that freshmen Zoie Garcia and Elaine Gonzalez have proven so skilled and poised that a solid infield is looking good in spite of losing last year’s first team All-District shortstop and third baseman. Seniors Ashley Colunga, Kassandra Vargas, Julia Vazquez, and Bailey Richey are returning All-District notables who can flash some leather as well as swing some bats. Colunga is outstanding at second base. Vargas and Richey will share pitching and first base responsibilities while Vazquez commands the field from behind the plate. They are all determined to wear the uniform as long as possible this season. Junior centerfielder Laila Gonzalez will anchor the outfield. Sophomore Vivianna Alaniz has claimed left but right field is up for grabs. Juniors Julissa Guerra, Jocelyn Longoria, Brianna Castillo, Nicole Vale, and Alejandra Hernandez have all seen playing time in pre-season scrimmages. Junior Valeria Villarreal will fill in at second base when needed and sophomore Abby Chavez claims utility player duties. Optimism is running high as the Jackets begin the season at home on Tuesday, February 13th against Channelview.

 

Varsity game time is 6:00 but come early to watch the junior varsity at 4:30. Coach Vela gives his JV squad kudos for their eagerness to learn and willingness to take instruction. He has been pleased with the progress he has seen through scrimmage opportunities and says his players feed off of the varsity team’s hustle and intensity.


****Welcome to Assistant Coach Marcus McGraw! He is G.P.’s newest addition to the softball program.