McAllen Rowe freshman third baseman is The Monitor’s All-Area Softball Newcomer of the Year. 

EDINBURG — 2017 was an uncharacteristic season at McAllen Rowe. The Warriors finished fifth in District 30-6A with sub-.500 overall and district records. Three of their everyday starters were freshmen. One of them, catcher Ashley Barriero, led the team in hits.

A year of experience did the young Warriors a lot of good, as Rowe posted an 8-4 district record and made a playoff appearance in 2018. However, the team’s most effective hitter was, once again, a freshman.

Third baseman Ziomara Jasso might have a lot to learn at the varsity level, but teams have yet to figure her out. Jasso hit a blistering .596 with 10 doubles, five triples and a home run while driving in 35 RBIs and piling up a team-best 17 stolen bases. Her versatile skillset made Jasso the choice for The Monitor’s All-Area Newcomer of the Year.

“I’ve been playing this game my whole life, and it just feels natural to me,” Jasso said. “It was kind of scary at first. I needed to calm myself down before every game so I wouldn’t make any mistakes and keep myself positive about everything.”

Jasso showed the fortitude to play an error-free third base alongside shortstop Valerie Gallardo, who also turned in a perfect 2018 season defensively.

“My teammates have definitely been a big part of my success, and Valerie helped me out a lot,” Jasso said. “If things weren’t going our way, she’d tell me, ‘It’s OK. We’ve got the next play,’ and always brought each of us up. If anything ever happened, she was there.”

Jasso grew up around softball thanks to her older sister, Yareli Rios, who played catcher and first base for McAllen Rowe from 2009-12. Rios earned Second Team All-State distinction from the Texas Sports Writers Association following an outstanding senior season. She went on to play at Coastal Bend College.

“I knew she could be good very early on,” Rios said of Jasso. “Even before the season, I told her, ‘Ziomara, as long as you do the work your coach instructs you to do, you’re going to get an award.’ She was nervous, but I told her, ‘Dude, no. You’re destined for greatness. Continue to be humble and do the work on the field.’ This is just the beginning for her.”

Rios moved back to the Valley and graduated from UTRGV with a degree in kinesiology. Coming home helped her notice trends in her younger sister’s game.

“With the type of athlete that she is, she’s never going to back down from anything,” Rios said. “She’s a good pull hitter, and she can go the opposite way. I’m not trying to say this because she’s my sister, but it is hard to strike out someone like her.”

District 30-6A will likely look a little different a year from now. La Joya High was led by seniors who carried the team to a 12-0 record in district competition. The time could be ripe for McAllen Rowe to become the fourth different team to earn at least a share of a district championship in three seasons.

“We’re only losing three seniors, but we’ll have a lot of the same players coming back,” Jasso said. “A district title will be our main goal next year, and I think we can do it.”