Steady hitting and relentless pressure on the base paths led Westgate to an 11-1 victory over Copper Little League in four innings Sunday at Petroglyph Park.
Counting the minor league age division, Westgate has won three straight New Mexico state championships.
It advances to the Southwest Regional in Waco, Texas, on July 27.
“It’s never easy, but the girls were focused and they knew the expectations,” said Westgate manager David Morales of his team, made up of girls 11 to 13 years old. “That’s what it was; keep the focus, work on our game, do everything right, not pick up any bad habits, and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Westgate defeated Copper on back-to-back days by a combined 32-3 score. Westgate leadoff hitter Reyna Morales reached base safely all seven times in two games, scoring seven runs.
“It’s nerve-racking (batting leadoff),” Reyna Morales said. “At the same time, it gets the team pumped up if I get on base. They know they can get on base, they know they have a shot at the pitcher, and it gives them a little boost of confidence.”
Reyna Morales ripped a single up the middle to ignite a four-run opening inning.
Brianna Martin singled up the middle and winning pitcher Jena Gurule made it three straight hits up the middle, driving in Reyna Morales with the first run. Jaz Griego, Marissa Sierra and Neveah Bracamonte added single RBIs for the early cushion.
Copper scored in the bottom of the first. Aniela Tellez singled up the middle and moved to third on the same play after an outfield error. Tellez scored when a return throw after a pitch sailed over Gurule into center field.
The only other potential scoring threat for Copper came in its last at-bat. Tellez led off the fourth by driving a fly ball to right-center field. Westgate outfielder Brianna Martin made a running catch in the gap.
“That was a great catch,” said Copper manager Robert Esqueda. “When it was hit, I was telling (Aniela), ‘go two, go three.’ That would have given us a chance to get a run and chip away.”
Westgate led 5-1 entering the third and scored six runs to set up the mercy-rule ending.
First baseman Karina Garcia capped the scoring with a three-run double to center that was never more than 10 feet off the ground.
“My coach always tells me that we’re not a power-hitting team,” Garcia said. “We get base hits. That’s how we win.”
In the 13-15 senior softball age group, Los Alamos rolled to the state championship by beating Coronado 16-1 in five innings. It was Los Alamos’ first state crown in this age group, said tournament administrator Carlos Garcia.
Los Alamos moves on to the Southwest Regional on July 22-26 in Vidalia, La.
Eastdale Little League swept its way to a state championship by topping Las Vegas 22-11 in four innings. It was the first championship for Eastdale in this age division. Sunday’s game was the only one in the state tournament in which it surrendered a run.