CAPITAN – If the Capitan Lady Tiger softball team wanted a high seed in this year’s Class 3A/1A State playoffs, they would need at least one win against Tularosa on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for Capitan, the games resulted in a sweep by Tularosa, with the Lady Wildcats winning 15-4 and 12-10.
That means that the Lady Tigers (9-15, 3-11 District 4-3A/1A) likely will be a lower seed, with more of a chance of seeing a highly-seeded district 4 opponent in the playoffs.
“Who knows, we have the toughest district in the state,” said Capitan coach Kenny Espinosa. “That (Tularosa) is the No. 3 team in the state. Like last year, we’ll probably have a chance to take out a lot of the teams from the north at the state tournament.”
Game one was all Tularosa, as the Lady Wildcats (16-8, 8-6) took advantage of two errors in the first inning for a 4-0 lead in the top of the first.
Capitan attempted a slow comeback, getting to within two runs in the bottom of the third and staying within striking distance, but a few more errors down the stretch – combined with 12 hits off the Lady Wildcat bats – turned the close game into a rout.
Part of the problem was Dominique Valadez’s pitching, which was still a question mark after she had come back from an injury.
She started getting her groove near the end of the game, but was unable to overcome the five hit batters to put Tularosa on base.
“She hasn’t pitched much this year, and we’re throwing her back in. We’ll see how it goes,” Espinosa said of Valadez. “If she gets another week on her pitching, she’ll be able to do a little bit better.”
In game two, Shelby Southard stepped into the circle and looked very good through the first two shutout innings.
Capitan had a 3-0 lead heading into the third, but the Lady Wildcats went off for five hits in the frame to take the lead for good.
Valadez took back the pitching duties in the middle of a six-run fifth inning, and was able to hold off Tularosa for the most part the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the Lady Tiger bats started to wake up.
The fifth inning began with Southard reaching base on an error, and eventually scoring on a single by Kylie Pruett.
Valadez, Pruett, Mackenzie Nunez and Britney Baca all crossed the plate before the frame was out, and Capitan had crawled to within two runs.
After Tularosa got a run back in the sixth, Capitan started coming back again, as Payton Hall singled and scored on a single from Pruett.
But Pruett was caught stealing, and that effectively ended the rally and the game.
Now it’s the waiting game to see where they’ll end up in the State bracket.
“If they realize they can win, even if we end up playing a third or fourth seed, I still think we have a chance,” Espinosa said.