RIO RANCHO — Forget dynasties.
Class 5A’s No. 5 seed Farmington and 6A’s top seeded Volcano Vista rolled into today’s respective championship rounds through the winners’ bracket despite not even qualifying for the state tournament one year ago.
Friday at Cleveland High School, both teams advanced thanks to strong lead-off hitting and young pitchers who said they learned from last year’s struggles. And neither team seems to realize playoff experience is supposed to matter this time of year.
“Hey, look,” Farmington coach Tim Trotter said after Friday’s 7-2 win over No. 7 Aztec, “none of the kids on my team have ever even played in the state tournament. We were happy to get here and then as the wins started coming and we got those jitters out, we’re playing with confidence now. We’re having fun.”
No. 5 FARMINGTON 7, No. 7 AZTEC 2: Sophomore pitcher Makayla Donald struck out nine Aztec hitters and the Scorpions broke open a tight game with a four-run sixth inning.
Earlier in the day, she also got the win in the circle in a 4-2 victory over No. 1 Artesia.
“She’s a sophomore and she’s now got four wins in the state tournament (over Deming, Los Lunas, Artesia and Aztec), six wins in district, she’s pretty good,” said Trotter. “She’s been the key to this team.”
Nursing a 3-2 lead, the four-run sixth was what sealed the deal for Farmington (20-9-1).
Today’s championship series, a rematch with Artesia, starts at 10 a.m. with an if-necessary Game 2 at 2 p.m.
OTHER 5A GAMES: After Artesia’s loss to Farmington, the Bulldogs got back to their dominating ways. Artesia (27-4) battled back to the championship round with three consolation wins: 13-4 over No. 6 Alamogordo, 15-9 over No. 4 Los Lunas, and 13-0 over Aztec.
No. 1 VOLCANO VISTA 8, No. 7 LAS CRUCES 4: At Cleveland High, junior pitcher Brook Leger struck out seven Bulldawgs and the Hawks jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first two innings before cruising into today’s state title game.
“The chemistry is through the roof right now,” said Leger, who on Thursday struck out 14 Cleveland Storm hitters in a first-round game. Sophomore Alyssa Rosales pitched the Hawks (21-5) past No. 12 Piedra Vista, 3-2, earlier Friday in winners’ bracket action.
“Our pitching has been coming up big,” said Volcano Vista coach J.J. Garcia.
Senior shortstop Jaden Encinas, the team’s leadoff hitter, was 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored against Las Cruces and 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored in the win over Piedra Vista.
The Bulldawgs weren’t done in the double-elimination tournament, though. Las Cruces beat No. 2 Rio Rancho 10-9 on Friday night to make it out of the consolation bracket and set up a rematch with the Hawks in today’s championship round at UNM. Both of Rio Rancho’s losses in the tournament were to Las Cruces.
Game 1 of today’s 6A championship play is at noon with an if-necessary Game 2 at 4 p.m.
— Geoff Grammer
No. 1 SILVER 13, No. 2 BERNALILLO 1 (5 inn.): Silver won its eighth consecutive state title, routing Bernalillo on Friday afternoon in the championship game in five innings at Lobo Field.
“We’ve kind of created our own monster,” a smiling Silver coach Duane Trewern said. “And that monster has to be fed every year.”
The top-seeded Colts (26-4) got on top of the second-seeded Spartans (25-6) from the start. Ajia Richard hit a two-run triple during a three-run first for Silver, which added five runs in the second inning, highlighted by Sherelle Rodriguez’s two-run triple.
“Oh my goodness, the bats showed up today,” Trewern said.
Shortstop Zoe Abeyta was 3-for-4 and drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple in the fourth.
“We work well under pressure,” said Rodriguez, who won her fifth title as a Silver player. “And we don’t think about it too much. We just do what we do best.”
No. 1 DEXTER 4, No. 2 LOVING 1: Dexter won its fourth straight blue trophy, and third straight in the final over Loving, as the Demons defeated the Falcons on Friday morning at UNM.
Dexter (27-3) scored three runs in the bottom of the first. Bryana Muñoz (who was also the winning pitcher) doubled to right to open the inning and scored on Aryana Muñoz’s triple to right.
Aryana Muñoz came home on a Danique Blankvoort double to right-center field. A single by Marlou Blankvoort scored the final run of the inning.
Loving finished the season 23-7.
— James Yodice