RIO RANCHO – There’s good news and bad news for Carlsbad’s softball team.
The obvious good news is this: It is one of two Class 5A teams playing on the final day of the 2019 season.
The bad news? To hoist state championship No. 17 in the sport, the Cavegirls (23-6) will have to find a way to beat No. 1 Rio Rancho, a team that blasted Carlsbad, the No. 2 seed, 16-2 in four innings on Friday morning at the Cleveland High School softball complex.
A seven-run fourth inning that got started with a bases-clearing, 3-run double by 8th grader Jessica Munro gave the Cavegirls a bounce back 17-2, four inning blowout of their own over No. 13 Hobbs in the consolation bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
Now they must beat Rio Rancho twice.
“Well, yeah. We’d rather be where Rio Rancho is (without a loss), but they kicked the crap out of us,” said Carlsbad coach John Tigert. “We didn’t play ball. We walked nine people. We couldn’t beat the school of the blind if we walk nine people. We had three errors and only got three hits. Last time (they played Rio Rancho on March 30), I think we got 13 hits when we played them and we lost by one run. So, look, we’re better than what we showed today.”
The Rams (27-3), run ruled Cleveland to open Friday’s play with cleanup hitter Kendra Levesque continuing her home run barrage this week with a first inning grand slam that was part of an eight-run opening inning for Rio Rancho.
The battle of defending state champions is on.
The No. 4 Silver Lady Colts, they of the eight-consecutive state championships, rattled off three consolation bracket wins on Friday at Cleveland High School to get their rematch with No. 1 Artesia, who won last year’s Class 5A title before reclassification landed the Colts (26-4) and Bulldogs (25-4) in the same Class 4A this season.
After Artesia beat Silver 1-0 on Thursday, Silver on Friday beat No. 6 Bernalillo, No. 5 Lovington and No. 3 Aztec to advance to today’s championship series at UNM.
“I’m super proud of the girls. It was a monumental task to come out here today and do what they did to keep us alive,” said Silver coach Duane Trewern after his team’s 9-6 win over Aztec. “… If you want to walk around as a state champion, you want to be proud of it. You want to beat the best. That’s our task tomorrow.”
Artesia has beat Silver three times this season, two one-run games and one that was decided on the final swing with a walk-off home run in extra innings in a 7-4 Bulldogs win in March.
Cobre took the long way to state title No. 11.
The Indians (22-12) were sent to the loser’s bracket of the 3A bracket on Wednesday by No. 7 Dexter, only to rattle off six consecutive elimination game wins, including a pair of wins Friday at the UNM softball complex over No. 3 Tularosa – 5-2 in the first game and 12-11 in the championship clincher.
Since the Dexter loss on Wednesday, Cobre’s run through the consolation bracket included eliminating No. 6 Santa Fe Indian School (6-5), No. 1 Robertson (16-5), Dexter (13-10) in their rematch, and No. 4 West Las Vegas (17-12).
Five years was long enough.
No. 2 Loving completed a dominant tear through the A-2A tournament field with a 16-4 win over No. 1 Eunice on Friday morning at the UNM softball complex.
It was is state championship No. 17 for the program and the first since 2014. Loving now sits alone atop the record book for most state softball titles in New Mexico history. Loving and Carlsbad entered this season tied with 16 apiece (they’ve been tied at 16 since 2014). Carlsbad plays for a 5A title today.
Loving (20-6) won five state tournament games in the past week by a combined score of 77-7, including two wins over top-seeded Eunice (24-7) by a combined 27-5.