I thought it was a very level playing field this season in baseball. Not many extraordinary talents, but there was quality depth at many positions.
I would describe softball as 180 degrees the other way. There was an unusually high volume of dominant athletes, and a majority of them resided in one district.
Eldorado, which had the best record through the first two-thirds of the year, has three players on the first team, none of them seniors, which surely bodes well for the Eagles’ future chances.
Junior first baseman Andrew Stubbs not only had a robust season at the plate, but veteran EHS coach Jim Johns said Stubbs might be the best defensive first baseman he’s ever had.
Junior right fielder Austin Treadwell and promising sophomore third baseman Nathaniel Garley also were chosen to the first team.
Volcano Vista had three representatives as well.
Oddly enough, because of the way all-district voting is done, Hawks’ sophomore left-hander Tanner West wasn’t even eligible to be put on the Class 5A all-state ballot. He didn’t make the first team in his district, which meant he couldn’t be voted all-state.
Which is practically criminal. There were 15 pitchers on the all-state team and West wasn’t one of them? (Note to coaches: there is a serious flaw in your system if a kid like this is left off an all-state team.)
Nevertheless, West was my selection as our first-team pitcher. That he beat state champion La Cueva twice should tell you all you need to know; his only loss was a game in which he was outpitched 1-0. The Lobos will be getting a tremendous talent.
His battery mate, Daniel Herrera, is also on the first team. Catcher was a deep position, with the likes of La Cueva’s Andrew Pratt and Eldorado’s Ambrose Romero.
Junior centerfielder Chris Padilla is the last of the first-teamers from Volcano Vista.
Rio Rancho’s Marcus Martinez, with perhaps the exception of one terrible multi-error game against Volcano Vista, handled the transition from catcher – where he played his first four seasons with the Rams – to shortstop better than I imagined he would.
La Cueva’s smooth Connor Calvert in left field, and St. Pius’ Tristin Rizek at designated hitter round out the first team. Rizek’s natural position is shortstop, but he had a monster offensive season for the Sartans. Calvert drove in an impressive 41 runs for the Bears.
In the many years I have been selecting All-Metro teams in various sports, never has there been an instance where nearly all of the first-teamers – and second-teamers, for that matter – originated from one league.
But as you will have noticed, District 1-5A comprised 80 percent of the All-Metro teams this spring. There are eight players on the first team, eight more on the second team.
This could surely rub some people the wrong way, but in truth it shouldn’t.
District 2-5A doesn’t have a single player on either team, for example. But 2-5A was did not distinguish itself; consider that its champion, La Cueva, got a No. 12 seed at state. There were some very young teams in that district.
Rio Rancho, the 5A state champion, has five players on the first team, which is both just and fair since the Rams slaughtered most everyone in their path, losing only one game to a New Mexico school.
Senior pitcher Nicole Pendley, the state’s best player, won 21 games. She also hit nearly .600 and swatted 14 home runs while driving in 50 runs.
“Pendley is impossible to get out,” West Mesa coach Jimmy Hernandez said.
University of Kansas recruit Jessie Roane had 11 home runs and a mind-blowing 64 RBIs. She’s on the first team, along with sophomore shortstop BreOnna Castañeda (9 home runs), junior outfielder Jovanni Felix and freshman phenom Venessa Gallegos at second base.
Gallegos hit seven homers, drove in 36 runs in that powerhouse Ram offense, and also swiped 29 bases.
Two Volcano Vista standouts, catcher Jade Gray and first baseman Taylor Sargent, are repeat first-team selections.
Gray has signed with the University of New Mexico, Sargent with UTEP.
Cibola’s clutch junior, Ariana Maldonado, is a first-team outfielder.
You have to look to District 5-5A to find the final two members of the first team.
The third outfielder is West Mesa junior Olivia Simoni. Albuquerque High’s Chantel Purcella is the DH.