Rio Rancho’s Mia Martinez, right, pumps the brakes as she gets caught in a rundown between second and third base Friday afternoon at Rio Rancho. Looking to apply the tag for Cibola is Reyna Morales. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
RIO RANCHO — The Cibola softball team couldn’t hold a nine-run lead before extra innings, but the Cougars protected a one-run lead in extra innings, which is what truly mattered.
Sixth-ranked Cibola earned a huge victory on Friday night at Eagle Ridge Middle School, edging third-ranked Rio Rancho with a wild 16-15, eight-inning win that allowed the Cougars to overtake the Rams for second place in District 1-5A.
“This win was very big,” said sophomore catcher Krista Healy, who delivered the game-winning RBI with a double to left field starting the top of the eighth and Natalia Lopez on second base. “We all wanted this. We’ve all been talking about this one game. They got us the first time, we just had to come back and pull through.”
This game didn’t much resemble the teams’ first meeting on May 25, a game won 6-2 by the Rams.
Cibola (13-4, 4-3 in 1-5A) had an early 8-1 lead and was in front 15-6 in the bottom of the fourth after scoring five runs in the third and seven more in the fourth. But Rio Rancho (14-4, 3-3) chipped away. The Rams scored three in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and three more in the the seventh — the last two with two outs — to force extra innings.
And the only reason Cibola earned extra innings is because Cougars center fielder Arecely Morales threw out Rio Rancho’s Mia Flores at home plate in the bottom of the seventh. Flores was at second base and looking to score the game-winner on Ariana Jarvis’ single to center.
Cibola’s Aracely Morales makes contact with a pitch early in her team’s wild win Friday over host Rio Rancho. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
It was redemption for Morales, whose error on the previous play — missing a fly ball hit by Flores — allowed the tying run to score.
“She catches that ball 90 percent of the time,” Cibola coach Gene Victor said. “But then she comes back and makes a heck of a play.”
Cibola has one game left in the regular season, against Atrisco Heritage on Tuesday. The Rams have two left, including one against 1-5A-leading Cleveland.
“I told the girls today, I thought if we win this one tonight and win our next game, this would put us into state,” Victor said. “But you never know. We have the toughest district in the state.”
Taylar Tso had two home runs and six RBIs for Cibola. She clubbed a three-run homer in the first and added a two-run shot in the fourth. Healy added a three-run blast in Cibola’s seven-run fourth, and also drove in six runs.
Rylee Campbell had a three-run homer for Rio Rancho in the bottom of the fourth, and Mia Martinez hit a solo shot leading off the seventh.
CIBOLA 16, RIO RANCHO 15 (8 innings)
Cibola 305 700 01 — 16 17 2
Rio Rancho 015 321 30 — 15 18 3
Batteries: C, Hailey Francois, Shade Young (4) and Krista Healy. RR, Rylee Campbell, Mia Flores (3), Campbell (4) and Kionna King. Win: Young. Loss: Campbell. Leading hitters: C, Taylar Tso 4-5, 2 HR, 6RBIs; Healy 3-5, HR, 6RBIs. RR, Campbell 2-5, 2B, HR, 4RBIs; Mia Martinez 2-5, HR, 3RBIs; Flores 3=5, 2B, 2RBIs. Records: C 13-4, 4-3 in 1-5A; RR 14-4, 3–3.