Española Softball Needs to Start Winning

ev la 2
Española shortstop Taylor Suazo forces out Los Alamos' Alicia Gonzales at second base (photo by John McHale).

Española Softball Needs to Start Winning

By George Morse

Although the District 2-4A softball season is still young, it’s becoming very clear to Española Valley High School Coach Robbie Garcia what his team needs to do following a 21-11 loss to Los Alamos High School April 9 at Los Alamos.

“We have 10 games left,” Garcia said. “We need to win them all.”

Following a non-district doubleheader against Albuquerque Academy Saturday in Albuquerque, the Lady Sundevils next eight games will be against District 2-4A opponents. Those final eight games will determine whether or not Española advances to postseason play.

Currently, Española sits squarely in the middle of the District 2-4A standings with a 2-2 record. The way things are shaping up, Moriarty High School and Taos High School will battle each other to see who stays out of the district’s basement.

Pojoaque Valley High School (3-0) and Los Alamos (2-0) are sitting atop the district. Both have already beaten Espanols in district play. Pojoaque defeated the Sundevils 11-6 April 2 at Pojoaque.  Española has two key doubleheaders remaining in District 2-4A. The Sundevils face Pojoaque April 20 and play Los Alamos April 27 with both doubleheaders being played at Española. That should give the Sundevils an advantage,

“We seem to play better at home,” Coach Garcia said.

Española needs to sweep both doubleheaders in order to maintain the tiebreaker over both teams. If two teams finish the regular district season with the same record in district play, the team that won the three-game series between the two schools in district play finishes ahead of the other team.

That is key because District 2-4A gets no respect across the state. In the last two seasons, only the District 2-4A champion (Los Alamos) has advanced to postseason play in the state softball tournament. Despite being district champion, Los Alamos has received a low seed both times and had to go on the road in the opening round. The Hilltoppers have lost in the opening round both times.

So far this season, the Sundevils have shown the ability to score. They are led by senior Haley Ortega. Ortega is batting at a .581 average. More than half of her hits have gone for extra bases and she leads the team with four home runs. All her home runs are legit, going over the fence. No so-called “home runs” for her that are really due to errors by the other team and are not really home runs at all.

The Sundevils are batting a healthy .412 as a team. However, Española gives their opponents too many opportunities to score. Of the 102 runs leading pitcher Autumn Vigil has given up, only 68 are considered earned. The rest are due to errors, both physical and mental.

Against Los Alamos, it was mental errors like throwing to the wrong base, not running baserunners back and not making the right play that cost the Sundevils. Fielders got in each other’s way and outs that should have been made weren’t made.

“I don’t know who showed up today,” Coach Garcia said after the game. “We just couldn’t put it all together. In the mental part of the game, we struggled.”

The Sundevils face Taos High School Saturday and should easily dispatch the Lady Tigers, who have yet to win a District 2-4A game. The first of their key doubleheaders at Española will be April 20 against Pojoaque.

Española's Sydnee Pollard slides safely into third base (photo by John McHale).

Española catcher Marissa Abeyta gets the force out at home on Los Alamos' Megan Romero (photo by John McHale).