‘Radiant’ Martinez, star of Cibola three-peat, dies of COVID at 30 - Albuquerque Journal

‘Radiant’ Martinez, star of Cibola three-peat, dies of COVID at 30

Missy Martinez from Cibola fires a pitch during the 2009 season. She won nearly 100 games in her career with the Cougars, three state championships, and struck out more than 1,200 batters. (Journal File Photo)

Cibola High School has lost one of its athletic legends.

Missy Martinez, the diminutive but powerful left-handed pitcher who led the Cougars to three consecutive state softball championships from 2007-09, has died.

Martinez, 30, died Feb. 4 from COVID-19, her father Gary said.

“She was the type of person that pulled everybody together,” said Gary Martinez. “Whether it was her family or whether it was her team, that’s just what she did. … Everyone said that she brightened up the room whenever she was there.”

Martinez was a second-grade teacher at McCollum Elementary School in Albuquerque, and she also was active in building a new interior design business, Haven + Honey. She also was interested in becoming a professional photographer.

“She was having the best time of her life,” Gary Martinez said.

Martinez’s best friend, and former Cibola teammate, Cheyene Crum, was deeply saddened when she learned of the passing of the godmother to her daughter.

Missy Martinez

“She was radiant,” Crum said. “I don’t know if anyone had the pleasure of meeting her, but they would say the same.”

Crum said she and Martinez grew up together as best friends and as softball players, and thought of one another as sisters.

“We were two peas in a pod,” said Crum. “It was one thing to play our favorite sport together, and it was one thing to grow up and have life experiences together. I was thankful to have those moments and experiences with her. … She was really important to my family.”

During her playing days at Cibola, Martinez was arguably New Mexico’s most dominant athlete in the circle.

She won 98 games in her four-year career at Cibola (2006-09), including 28 victories in 2009, and 29 — which is listed as the single-season state record on the New Mexico Activities Association website — in the 2008 season. She had 25 wins in 2007, the first of three straight seasons in which the Cougars won a Class 5A state title.

Martinez stood only 5-foot-3, but was a prolific strikeout pitcher, topping 300 twice in her career, in 2007 and 2009, mixing in a nasty rise pitch with an excellent change-up. She struck out a whopping 1,211 batters in her four varsity seasons. She finished with a superb 0.87 ERA in her Cibola career.

“Little bitty ol’ hands, right? She was sick,” Crum said reverently. Crum was Cibola’s center fielder during those seasons. “She (wasn’t) the one to talk about how badass she (was). She mastered what she had. It was an awesome thing to watch.”

After high school, Martinez moved on to play at New Mexico Highlands, where she was chosen the national player of the week in her first week as a freshman after throwing a no-hitter in her college debut.

Martinez played two seasons at Highlands before leaving the sport to focus on attaining her degree in elementary education.

Martinez was the youngest of five siblings.

“She was the centerpiece of the family,” her father said. “Sometimes, we looked to her as the person who would be fair about everything. She was very considerate of others, she was a good listener, and people would look to her for advice.”

Martinez is survived by her parents, Gary and Yolanda, and siblings Luke, Denise, Yvonne and Adrian. Her services were held Feb. 14.

Home » Sports » ‘Radiant’ Martinez, star of Cibola three-peat, dies of COVID at 30

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