With its easy 13-3 first-round win over visiting Sandia Saturday morning, No. 1 Rio Rancho takes its 20-game winning streak into a Class 5A quarterfinal game Thursday against Las Cruces at Cleveland High School.
The game will be played on diamond 1 at 11 a.m.
Rio Rancho (24-3) beat the defending state champion Bulldawgs (17-9) 7-4 back on March 28 in the quarterfinals of the Kristin Griego Memorial Tournament.
Win or lose, in this double-elimination format the Rams play again at 3 on Thursday, facing either Alamogordo or Carlsbad in a semifinal game.
The semifinal winners meet on field 1 at 9 a.m. Friday, with that winner getting a rest until someone emerges with just one loss out of the losers’ bracket.
The championship game will then be played Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Lobo softball field in Albuquerque. (The “if necessary” game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, also at Lobo Field.)
The 16th-seeded Matadors (13-12), who the Rams beat by just three runs, 7-4, on March 28, put up little resistance against the Rio Rancho offensive juggernaut.
BreOnna Castaneda led off the bottom of the first with a triple and Jessie Roane capped the inning with a three-run homer.
Castaneda tripled home a run in the second to make it 4-0, and Venessa Gallegos swatted a two-run homer for a 6-0 lead after two innings.
After adding another three to the scoreboard in the fourth for a 9-0 lead, the Rams allowed the Matadors to score three times in the top of the fifth before putting the game away via the 10-run mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth.
Nicole Pendley scattered five hits and struck out nine from the circle; Castaneda led the offense by going 3 for 3, while Pendley, Roane, Molly Harder and Gallegos, who homered twice, had two hits apiece.
Storm season ends with first-round loss
The Cleveland Storm’s season ended Friday afternoon at West Mesa, where the seventh-seeded Mustangs needed eight innings to stop the Storm (14-13), 5-4.
The Mustangs (17-7) committed four errors along the way.
Hannah Obrey led the Storm with two hits and two RBIs.
It was the eighth loss in a row for the Storm, who’d won five straight after finishing fourth at the Kristin Griego Memorial Tournament in Rio Rancho in late March.
In other first-round games over the weekend, No. 2 Oñate defeated No. 15 Clovis 8-2; No. 3 Volcano Vista defeated No. 14 Valley 8-2; No. 4 Carlsbad beat No. 13 Atrisco Heritage Academy 10-0; No. 5 Alamogordo beat No. 12 La Cueva 7-4; No. 6 Cibola defeated No. 11 Hobbs 10-6; and No. 9 Las Cruces beat No. 8 Albuquerque High 1-0.
Other quarterfinal games, also being played at 11 Thursday on the other diamonds at CHS, are Alamogordo vs. Carlsbad, Volcano Vista vs. Cibola and West Mesa vs. Oñate.
Carlsbad is 2-0 this season vs. the Tigers; Cibola is 1-2 vs. Volcano Vista; Oñate and West Mesa have not met this season.
Bunts: A District 1-5A team has appeared in the last eight state championship games; Volcano Vista won championships in 2011 and ’12, Cibola won it all from 2007-09, and former district member West Mesa won the 5A title in the 2006 season.
… Former Ram standout Shelby Pendley and the defending national champion Oklahoma softball team (45-10) earned the No. 7 overall seed in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship and will host an NCAA Regional in Norman on Friday. The winner of this weekend’s regional will advance to the NCAA Super Regional round against the winner of the Knoxville Regional the following weekend with an ultimate goal of reaching the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. Pendley batted .411 in the regular season, playing in 53 games; she slugged 13 homers, drove in 61 runs and stole a dozen bases in as many attempts. In the circle, she was 1-4 with four saves and a 1.55 ERA in 17 appearances.
… MaxPreps.com had the Rams ranked 30th in the nation on Monday.
… A note from the NMAA indicates inclement weather could result in a single elimination format.