SANTA FE, N.M. — After play-ins, several local matchups for the smaller schools have already been set heading into the baseball and softball state tournaments in Albuquerque this week.
CLASS 2A BASEBALL
All games Thursday at 3 p.m.
No. 5 MORA vs. No. 4 REHOBOTH CHRISTIAN at Eldorado High School
How they got here: Rangers (13-4) beat No. 12 Magdalena 5-4. Lynx (16-3) beat No. 13 Desert Academy 10-0.
The defending 2A champion Rangers return with a phalanx of bats that can wear down the best of pitching staffs. Although Mora won’t crush anyone with the long ball, the team batting average sits at a robust .443 and the Rangers score an average of more than 10 runs per game.
The senior-laden squad is led by Conrad Romero (.612), Kenneth Martinez (.566) and Lefonso Castillo (.488). The team has speed up and down the lineup with 153 steals (nine per game), with seven different players in double figures led by Leonardo Aragon (29), Martinez (24) and Gene Hern (23).
Allen West is the top bopper for the Lynx with three homers, but Jacob Zylstra hit .591 with 14 extra base hits and Nathaniel Ebright hit .462 with 26 RBI.
Where Rehoboth really shines, however, is on the mound as West and Zylstra combined to go 8-0 with 87 strikeouts in 45 innings. Zylstra did not allow an earned run on the season.
No. 6 McCURDY vs. No. 3 ESTANCIA at St. Pius High School
How they got here: Bobcats (13-4) beat No. 11 Loving 8-6. Bears (19-4) beat No. 14 Tierra Encantada 21-3.
This is a rematch of the tournament game played last month in Santa Rosa that the Bears won 9-2.
“We had some good flashes of good hits and we hit the ball right to them,” said Bobcats coach Roberto DeVargas. “I liked the overall performance. I think it will be a little different outcome next Thursday.”
McCurdy averaged 10 runs a game behind a relentless, top-to-bottom lineup led by Kemmer Croff (.632, 29 RBI), A.J. Vallo (.558) and Isaiah Archuleta (.541).
And with seven seniors on the squad, it is remarkably poised, DeVargas said.
“The biggest thing is they’ve we played together and they help each other,” he said. “They’ve done a lot this season. They don’t get down and they don’t panic. They find a way to win and play as a group. That’s the biggest thing.”
Drayton Oberg (.557) and Cruz Moreno (.538) spark the Estancia offense, while Oberg, Jake Zamora and Moreno head the pitching staff.
CLASS 3A SOFTBALL
All games Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at Cleveland High School
No. 1 ROBERTSON vs. No. 9 HATCH VALLEY
How they got here: Cardinals (18-8) beat No. 16 East Mountain 14-3. Bears (13-10) beat No. 8 Tucumcari 17-14.
Although the Cardinals come in as the top seed, coach Robby Armijo knows the tournament is wide open.
“We talked about it and right now, whoever can get rolling and playing strong together is going to win it,” he said. “We were trying to get the one seed. But we’re not going to overlook anybody right now.”
The Cardinals are a powerful bunch who smashed 28 homers on the season, led by 10 from Mckayla Encinias (.471), who also had 47 RBI. Makayla Quintana (.466) had five home runs and eighth-grader Azlyn Padilla (.395) added four with 33 RBI.
Robertson has been on roll after a rough 3-7 start to the season, but it has rolled to wins in its last 10 games.
“We made huge gains,” Armijo said of the season’s journey. “We didn’t know ourselves yet as a team. We needed to play some games and be around each other a little bit earlier in the year.”
No. 4 WEST LAS VEGAS vs. No. 5 LAGUNA ACOMA
How they got here: Dons (20-6) beat No. 13 Raton 10-0. Hawks (22-5) beat No. 12 Navajo Prep 16-11.
The Dons are led by five seniors on whom coach Pamela Sandoval has relied for five seasons. And that gives her plenty of optimism.
“They have nothing to lose right now and they want to bring home the state championship,” she said. “I’ve had every one of these girls since the eighth grade and I’ve seen them mature into the girls that they’ve become. They keep their focus and heart coming. I think we’re going to do well.”
While those seniors – Breeanna Graston, Lucia Martinez, Andrea Ulibarri, Jade Ulibarri and Irah Yara – are the team’s soul, the rest of the lineup is providing plenty of spark as well.
“I can see a lot of the girls peaking at the time,” Sandoval said. “I see all the girls focusing right now and I think we’re in a good place. The girls who had been struggling have really come through at crunch time. They’re all at that point right now where they’re all coming back around when we need them at their top peak.”
No. 6 SANTA FE INDIAN SCHOOL vs. No. 3 TULAROSA
How they got here: Braves (16-11) beat No. 11 Tohatchi 16-1. Wildcats (16-5) beat No. 14 Wingate 19-0.
The Braves boast a prolific offense throughout the lineup, giving opposing pitchers no chance to relax.
Leanna Lewis (.583), Jayda Lucario (.500), Kiera Mermejo-Varga (.490) and Diandra Toya (.488) are just the tip of the attack that averaged more than 10 runs a game.
And Alyssa Naranjo with a 3.50 earned-run average has solidified the pitching staff.
“She’s been doing what’s been asked of her,” Torres said. “She had some big shoes to fill. She was asked to step up in a big role and fill those shoes and she’s done a good job.”
But the team’s best trait, coach Oliver Torres said, is its fielding ability. It will need the latter two to hold the powerful Wildcats in check, he said.
“I don’t know too much about them but I’ve looked at their stats and they beat Cobre and if you beat Cobre, you’re a formidable opponent for sure. On the other hand, we have one of the best defenses in the state. Our bats, they come and go. We’ve got to be able to hit with them, and we have to try and contain them offensively. So that’s sort of the game plan.”