RIO RANCHO – For once, the Capitan softball team doesn’t have to fight its way through the consolation bracket from the beginning.
After defeating Lordsburg in a 5-4 squeaker to get to the double elimination rounds of the Class 3A/1A State tournament, May 10, the Lady Tigers put it to district foe Tularosa, winning 10-5 to earn a spot in today’s State semifinals and getting some well-deserved rest.
“It’s a little weird, because we always lost that first game right away,” said Capitan pitcher Dominique Valadez. “This time we came to play, and we knew we could beat them (Tularosa). We stayed strong and came out with a victory.”
Depending on how you look at it, Capitan is fortunate or unfortunate to take on Loving in that State semifinal game. The Lady Cardinals have been unstoppable this season and have made short work of the Lady Tigers three times this season.
But Valadez relishes the chance.
“Loving is pretty good, but honestly, we’re better. We have a better defense,” Valadez said. “We just need to hit of their pitchers tomorrow.”
Against Lordsburg, the Lady Tigers struck first with two runs in the top of the first inning on a pair of doubles by Aspen Caughron and Kylie Pruett.
That might have put Lordsburg on its heels, but the Lady Mavericks responded with a run in the bottom of the frame, and the narrow margin continued through the rest of the game.
Lordsburg put across three runs in the third, only to be countered by a pair of Capitan runs in the fourth to tie the game at 4-all.
For a while, it looked like that’s how it would stay and the game might have to go into extra innings, but Caughron’s double in the sixth – and her eventual score on a sacrifice fly by Valadez – secured the win.
“I thought we’d score more runs than we did,” said Capitan coach Kenny Espinosa. “We had the bases loaded two times against them. We’re young, but did well, considering.”
Capitan wasted little time taking control against Tularosa, hitting the ball at will, including a solo home run by Valadez over the left field fence.
Today’s game was moved back two hours due to the rain cancellation the evening before, but that just gave the Lady Tigers more chance to rest and prepare.
“These games have helped, they realize they can catch the ball and get girls out,” Espinosa said. “And Dominique’s pitching is right there.”