There’s only one nationally-ranked high school baseball team in New Mexico, and that team, the La Cueva Bears, will start the Class 6A playoffs with a giant target on their foreheads.
The 23-1 Bears, ranked No. 41 in the CBS MaxPreps Xcellent 50, will open the postseason at home on Friday as Class 6A’s No. 1 seed, taking on No. 16 seed Oñate, the only team in the entire field with a losing record (10-14).
Cleveland, Piedra Vista and Hobbs were seeded second through fourth by the New Mexico Activities Association late Monday night.
The Storm, champions of District 1-6A, will open with No. 15 Mayfield.
The Panthers, in their first season of 6A baseball, get No. 14 Atrisco Heritage in the first round.
And the Eagles, the winners of District 4-6A, will play host to No. 13 Valley.
All of the first round is a best-of-3 series, with a single game Friday and two games, if needed, on Saturday.
Albuquerque High on Monday won the District 2-6A title, but the Bulldogs, as expected with a résumé that lacks any signature wins, were handed a very low seed. AHS will open as the No. 12 seed and visit Trevor Rogers and defending state champion Carlsbad, the 5 seed, in the first round.
The Cavemen, Centennial (another 6A newcomer) and 1-6A rivals Volcano Vista and Rio Rancho round out the top eight; all will be at home this weekend.
The Hawks from Centennial take on No. 11 Clovis, the Hawks from Volcano Vista will entertain No. 10 Las Cruces, and Rio Rancho, which beat three of the four district champions in 6A — AHS, Hobbs and Cleveland — will be home to No. 9 Eldorado.
If the top eight seeds all advance, quarterfinal games will look as follows: La Cueva-Rio Rancho, Cleveland-Volcano Vista, Piedra Vista-Centennial and Hobbs-Carlsbad.
CLASS 3A: Texico, the defending state champion, got the No. 1 seed, followed by Santa Rosa, Dexter and Raton. Eunice faces one of the longest hauls of any team in any division, with a road series at Raton in the first round.