Pojoaque Coach Chris Ortiz and Anissa Herrera celebrate after Herrera stroked a grand slam home run in the Elkettes 11-6 victory over Española April 2 at Pojoaque.
Grand Slam Propels Pojoaque to Victory
By George Morse
The Pojoaque Valley High School Elkettes and Española Valley High School Lady Sundevils squared off in the District 2-4A opener for both schools April 2 at Pojoaque. The Elkettes exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and went on to take an 11-6 victory.
“It was an exciting game,” Pojoaque Coach Chris Ortiz said. “The girls fought through thick and thin. Our sticks finally came through.”
Española jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Haley Ortega hammered a home run. Pojoaque tied the game with a run in the bottom of the first inning. The Elkettes took a 2-1 lead with a run in the bottom of the second.
In the top of the third inning, Española ’s Taylor Suazo stroked a one-out triple. She scored on a hit by Jazmin Roller. Roller stole second base and scored on a hit by Autumn Vigil. The Sundevils took a 3-2 lead.
Pojoaque tied the game with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles by Madison Gonzales and Rianna Arellano. Española answered with a run in the top of the fifth inning on a double by Ortega and a single by Suazo to take a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Pojoaque’s Ayana Aguirre led off with a double. After a popup to short for the first out, Kaelynn Mondragon beat out a bunt for an infield hit. The next batter, Madison Gonzales, popped up to third, but Española ’s shortstop and third baseman ran into each other, jarring the ball loose and all hands were safe. After a popup to second base for the second out, Española pitcher Autumn Vigil committed a cardinal sin. She walked Pojoaque’s number nine batter, Elysia Gonzales, to score a run and keep the bases loaded. That brought up Pojoaque’s leadoff hitter, Anissa Herrera, to the plate.
Herrera wasted no time, slamming the first pitch from Vigil over the left field fence for a grand slam home run. Pojoaque took an 8-4 lead.
As leadoff hitter, Herrera often bats from the left side of the plate and is just trying to get on base. This time, she moved to the right side of the plate.
“I told my coach to let me hit away,” Herrera said. ”I got a hold of that one and it went over.”
An inning that could have ended with Pojoaque not scoring any runs ended up being a big inning for the Elkettes.
“Our girls lost focus,” Española Coach Robbie Garcia said. “Pojoaque took advantage of it in the fifth inning.”
The shaken Sundevils were held scoreless in the top of the sixth inning. With Hailey Guinn now on the mound for Española , the Elkettes added three more runs. Michaela Martinez drew a leadoff walk. After an error at shortstop, Guinn struck out the next two batters. Elysia Gonzales then singled home two runs and later scored on a single by Herrera. Pojoaque had a comfortable 11-4 lead going into the seventh and final inning.
Española tried to rally. With one out, Ortega smacked her second home run of the game over the left field fence. Ashley Osegueda and Suazo stroked singles. After a forceout at second base, Autumn Vigil’s pop fly dropped for a hit, scoring Osegueda, but Jazmin Roller was thrown out at third to end the game.
Rebecca Chavez went the distance on the mound for Pojoaque to pick up the win.
Pojoaque improved to 3-5 on the season. More importantly, they are 1-0 in District 2-4A. Española fell to 7-5 on the year, but a district loss is something Española couldn’t afford. In past two seasons, only the District 2-4A champion has advanced to the state softball tournament.
“We have to win district,” Coach Garcia, obviously disappointed with the loss, said to the team.
Española assistant coach Angel Martinez tried to impress on the team the urgency they need to start feeling.
“You all have to want it,” she said. “It’s all up to you guys.”
Rebecca Chavez pitched a complete game and picked up the win in Pojoaque's 11-6 victory over Española. Pojoaque's Ayana Aguirre fouls off a pitch against Española . She would later hit a double leading offthe fifth inning.