Española first baseman Elena Gonzales hustles over to first base for the putout after fielding a ground ball against Los Alamos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
Española splits doubleheader with Los Alamos
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
The Española Valley High School softball team had taken advantage of having big innings in their last two District 2-5A games prior to meeting the Los Alamos High School Lady Hilltoppers in a doubleheader April 8 at Española. In their 16-6 victory over Albuquerque Academy March 29, Española exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to end the game with a 16-6 win under the 10-run mercy rule. Against Capital High School April 5 in Santa Fe, the Lady Sundevils scored 10 runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 16-5 mercy-rule decision against the Lady Jaguars.
Facing Los Alamos April 8, the big inning that you’d come to expect from the Lady Sundevils never happened in the opening game of a doubleheader. The Hilltoppers held Española in check and took a 5-4 victory in eight innings.
In the second game, the overdue Lady Sundevils wasted no time in getting back to their old ways. Española rocked Los Alamos for 11 runs in the first inning and rode that hot start to a 15-2 mercy-rule victory to earn a split with the Lady Hilltoppers.
“You don’t ever know what’s going to happen with this team,” Española Coach Robbie Garcia said.
In the first game, Los Alamos pitcher Reyna Lucero outdueled Española’s Meranda Romero. Lucero kept painting the outside corner of the plate, inducing weak ground balls to the right side of the infield and preventing the Lady Sundevils from stringing hits together for multiple runs. Lucero never allowed more than one run in an inning.
“She (Lucero) was on that outside corner,” Coach Garcia said. “When she did leave it out over the plate, we were hitting everything right at them.”
Española scored a run in the second inning on a single by Elena Gonzales and a triple by Alyssa Aguilar. Los Alamos scored in the top of the third inning to tie the score 1-1. The Lady Sundevils added a run in their half of the third on a walk to Therese Lujan and a double by Haley Ortega. Los Alamos scored a run in the top of the fourth inning to tie the score 2-2, then went ahead 4-2 after a two-run homer by Jayde Tucker in the top of the fifth inning. Española scored in the bottom of the fifth inning on a triple by Alexia Garcia and a single by Ortega. After a scoreless sixth inning, the Lady Sundevils scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a double by Ortega and a double by Gonzales to tie the score 4-4 and send the game into extra innings.
The extra innings are played under international tiebreaker rules. Each team begins the inning with a runner at second base. In the top of the eighth inning, Los Alamos successfully executed a sacrifice bunt to move their runner over to third base. She scored on a base hit by Kasia Povijua to give the Lady Hilltoppers a 5-4 lead.
In Española’s half of the third inning, the Lady Sundevils failed to move their runner over to third base because they did not execute their sacrifice bunt. Romero ended up stranded at third base after a grounder to first and a grounder to second, giving Los Alamos a 5-4 victory.
“We didn’t execute in that last inning,” Coach Garcia said.
In the second game, Los Alamos scored in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the first inning with one out, Española’s Alexia Garcia singled. For whatever reason, that proved to be the spark that Española needed. The Sundevils started to tee off on Los Alamos pitcher Savana Luster.
Haley Ortega followed with a single and Elena Gonzales drew a walk. Miranda Romero followed with a base hit, as did Marina Padilla. Alyssa Aguilar smacked a double.
Panola’s Alyssa Aguilar was the winning pitcher in the Lady Sundevils’ 15-2 win over Los Alamos in the second game of a doubleheader April 8 at Espanola. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post
After Aguilar was thrown out at third base, Leah Lujan drew a walk and Sydnee Pollard doubled. That was the first of five straight two-baggers by the Lady Sundevils, as Raylynn Quintana, Garcia, Ortega and Gonzales all smacked doubles for Española. Romero and Padilla each smacked their second singles of the inning before Aguilar finally grounded out to third to end the inning. The Lady Sundevils sent 16 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs in the first inning.
“Alexia, she’s the one that got us started,” Quintana said. “Hitting is contagious and after that we just continued to hit.”
Espanola Valley hitter Alexia Garcia awaits her chance. Photo courtesy of John Denne
The beneficiary of that big first inning was Española starting pitcher Aguilar. Injured earlier in the season, Aguilar was making her first appearance on the mound in three weeks. She was staked to a 10-run lead and cruised through the next four innings, limiting the Lady Hilltoppers to just one more run. Española took a 15-2 victory under the 10-run mercy rule after five innings.
“It felt so good being out there knowing my team was out there backing me up,” Aguilar said. “That gave me confidence.”
Espanola Valley’s Marina Padilla slides safely into second, beating the tag from Los Alamos player Lauren Harris. Photo courtesy of John Denne
The Lady Sundevils improved to 3-1 in District 2-5A. All of their district victories have come via the 10-run mercy rule. However, Los Alamos and Capital have played one more game and both have 4-1 records in district play. Española is in second place a half-game behind Los Alamos and Capital. The Lady Sundevils still have work to do.
“Our defense is real strong and that helps our pitchers,” Coach Garcia said. “If they make a mistake they know their defense can back them up. We need to take care of business in district.”
Española plays at Del Norte High School in Albuquerque Wednesday in its next District 2-5A game.
See below for more photos from the double header contributed by John Denne.
Espanola’s rally would not materialize in game 1, but in game 2 they would not need one, winning 15-2. Photo courtesy John Denne
Espanola Valley hitter Alyssa Aguilar rips a hit to the outfield for a seemingly sure base hit, but….
a determined Janessa Gonzales runs it down and makes the almost impossible catch. Photos courtesy of John Denne