SANTA FE – It was not quite the stuff of which dreams are made.
The Las Vegas, N.M., Junior League All-Star team entered Wednesday needing just one win to take a World Series berth. Its opponent was Texas West, which Las Vegas had already beaten handily in the 2014 Little League Softball Southwestern Regional opener Saturday.
This, however, was another day and not a particularly good one for Las Vegas.
The Texas West girls from Eagle Pass delivered clutch hits, stifling pitching and plenty of defense to thwart Las Vegas twice – 10-0 in five innings and 6-3 in the second game – to earn a spot in the Junior World Series in Kirkland, Wash.
Texas West took it to Las Vegas in the opener Wednesday behind a strong effort on the mound from Connie Hernandez, who allowed just two hits, both coming in the fifth inning.
“She was on. She was on. She was on,” Texas West manager Willie Ruiz said.
“That’s my pitcher every time.”
The story started out the same in the second game as Texas West led 5-0 after two innings and 6-0 entering the seventh.
New Mexico had squandered several opportunities before that final inning, leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings and failing to score after the first two batters reached in the sixth.
Still, the team from Las Vegas felt it could pull out something special, which it almost did in the seventh.
“We were just confident and we thought we could catch up,” said center fielder Makayla Quintana.
“I think we were just nervous earlier.”
Consecutive singles from Samantha Montaño, Quintana and Shanaya Pacheco loaded the bases with no one out.
Ashley Lujan then drilled a double into the left-field corner to clear the bases, but she got caught taking too wide of a turn at second, and the rally died.
It’s the second consecutive year Las Vegas has gotten within a game of the World Series.
“It was a heck of a road to be here twice in a row, and the girls have accomplished a lot,” said Las Vegas manager Michael Quintana.
“Unfortunately, our bats weren’t there. Everything we hit, Eagle Pass was able to get and our bats weren’t there. Defenders-wise, it just wasn’t our day.”
And Las Vegas never had an answer for Texas West’s Heather Ruiz, who went 5-for-7 for the two games with a triple, three doubles and 5 RBIs.