CAPITAN – Heading into its Lincoln County showdown with Ruidoso on April 6, the Capitan softball team needed a win – any win.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Tigers needed at least seven runs just to tie it.
Capitan got that and more in that inning, and a Shelby Southard home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the sixth gave her team a 22-12 lead and a win on the 10-run rule.
“I just had to have confidence in myself. I know I can hit it, I just had to do it,” Southard said. “I thought it was just a little pop up, but it felt right.”
Capitan followed that up with a 21-17 win in the second game, which was called due to darkness.
These were wins the Lady Tigers (4-6) needed. They had lost three in a row, including an 18-7 decision against Dexter in their first District 4-3A/1A game.
“We lost a close one to Eunice (at the Mesilla Valley tournament last weekend), which shows how young we are,” said Capitan coach Kenny Espinosa. “But after today’s game, we’re starting to get confidence, hopefully. Our big guns will be back next week.”
Capitan scored 13 runs in the bottom of the fifth in game one, all without big hitters like Cheyenne Marss and Dominique Valadez in the lineup.
Both were on the bench with injuries, meaning Destanie Magnonie got the start pitching in Valadez’s stead, while Kylie Pruett was behind the plate catching.
Even Southard has an injury, but it didn’t keep her from parking the ball well beyond the reach of Ruidoso center fielder Andee Roach, who was surprised to run out of real estate as she crashed into the fence following the ball.
McKenzie Nunez led Capitan in hitting, going 3-for-3 with several runs batted in.
“I tried to come in with a good attitude. Just tried to hit the ball,” Nunez said. “We all just decided we needed to stand up and take charge and start hitting the ball.”
“They’re strong and starting to step up. They just need the confidence,” Espinosa added. “Winning games where we’re behind really helps us.”
It’s not like Ruidoso (4-8) wasn’t getting hits themselves. They had a 12-5 lead thanks in part to two home runs by Lia Mosher and Torri Trapp.
But after the losses, confidence is just what the Lady Warriors need as well, according to Ruidoso coach Sal Beltran.
“We’ve got to get that confidence back. That was a tough loss,” Beltran said. “They hit the ball, but we’ve got to make the plays, too. It’s simple as catching the fly balls, as simple as getting the ground ball and throwing it to first.”
Capitan takes on Jal at home Saturday in a start at high noon. The Lady Tigers are attempting to get even in district play.
Ruidoso, meanwhile doesn’t start District 4-4A games until a doubleheader at Hope Christian, April 15. That comes after a single game against Capitan at Gavilan Canyon Field on April 13.
“We’ve got to get our confidence back big time before district. Those teams are really tough, all three of them,” Beltran said. “We can’t play like this (today) and expect to win. Hopefully we’ll have different results later on.“