With two strikes and two outs in the final game of the stellar five-year high school career of Carlsbad star pitcher Faith Aragon, it entered her mind.
Her team was up 6-0, and she was one pitch away from it all coming to a dramatic end with back-to-back state titles and blue trophy No. 18 in for the storied Carlsbad softball program.
OK, well, maybe it would be more than just one more pitch as Piedra Vista’s Ayanna Stevens fouled one rise ball away.
And then several others.
And by the time the 14-pitch at-bat ended with a Stevens single to centerfield, and all those emotions put on hold, Aragon finally got that final out — maybe a little anticlimactic at that point — a batter later for a 6-0 win in Game 2 of Saturday’s Class 5A championship series.
“She already had a super career when we won it last year, and she just bettered it this year,” Carlsbad coach Brian Santo said of Aragon, who was the 2022 New Mexico Gatorade Softball Player of the Year and will play at UTEP.
“She’s been unbelievable for us and all these seniors have. That’s why I made sure I had all nine of these seniors out on the field for that last out. This group is going to be a real tough one to replace.”
On her eight fellow seniors on the field with her for the final out, Aragon said, “I wouldn’t have wanted this to end any other way. We’ve been through a lot together and we’ll never forget any of this.”
Aragon finishes the season with a 0.65 ERA, 15 wins and 180 strikeouts.
Saturday, Aragon entered the pitcher’s circle in Game 1 in the top of the fifth inning with her team down 3-0 and eventually lost 3-2, forcing the “if-necessary” Game 2.
GAME 1: No. 4 PIEDRA VISTA 3, No. 2 CARLSBAD 2
Piedra Vista 001 020 0 — 3 5 0
Carlsbad 000 002 0 — 2 6 2
BATTERIES: PV, Emma Lovato and Adryanna Snyder; C, Havein Schoolcraft, Faith Aragon (5th) and Aislenn Whitzel. WIN: Lovato. LOSS: Schoolcraft. LEADING HITTERS: PV, Lovato 2-3, run; C, Aragon 2-4, 2B, SB, run.
GAME 2: No. 2 CARLSBAD 6, No. 4 PIEDRA VISTA 0
Carlsbad 104 001 0 — 6 8 2
Piedra Vista 000 000 0 — 0 1 3
BATTERIES: C, Aragon and Whitzell; PV, Lovato and Snyder. WIN: Aragon. LOSS: Lovato. LEADING HITTERS: C, Johnna Aragon 1-3 HR; PV, Ayanna Stevens 1-3. RECORDS: C 29-2; PV 28-5.
Patience is easy to preach. Practicing it — especially when on the brink of a championship — is a whole other challenge.
It didn’t come easy for the Silver Colts early in Saturday’s Class 4A softball championship, but when it did, it paid off in a 3-2 win for the program’s 13th state title, but first since 2018.
Gallup star Seniah Haines was doing what she did so often in six other tournament games: Control the game from the pitcher’s circle.
“We knew that no matter how good of a pitcher you are, and she’s is a stud — you play that many games, you get tired,” Silver head coach Michael Lopez said.
“We knew she’d be heavy on the change up. We had trouble early sitting back on it, but once we did, we went to work.”
Defending champion Gallup led 2-1 early, and things appeared headed for a Game 2.
Then, with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the bottom of Silver’s lineup set the table for sophomore leadoff hitter Maria Ruelaz to hit an game-tying RBI single and junior third baseman Larissa Rueda lacing a single to left for the eventual game-winning RBI, 3-2.
“She’s a really good pitcher. I was just sitting back waiting for a change-up trying to get it into play to score that run,” Rueda said.
No. 2 SILVER 3, No. 3 GALLUP 2
Gallup 020 000 0 — 2 8 2
Silver 100 002 x — 3 9 1
BATTERIES: G, Seniah Haines and Maddie Martinez; S, Makaylah Roybal and Vanessa Lucero. WIN: Roybal. LOSS: Haines. LEADING HITTERS: G, Haines 3-3; S, Maria Ruelaz 3-3, RBI. RECORDS: G 22-11; S 27-4.