RIO RANCHO – A day of promise ended in defeat for Capitan’s softball team at this year’s Class 3A/1A State tournament, May 9, at Cleveland High School.
After a slow start – and eventual 19-9 win – against Navajo Pine in their play-in game early in the morning, the Tigers fell to District 4-3A opponent Loving, 14-3, then dropped a 22-12 decision to Estancia to end their quest for a State title.
It wasn’t at all how Capitan hoped the tournament would go for them, but there were a few injuries with which they had to contend.
That started with pitcher Dominique Valadez’s shoulder, which obviously bothered her in the game against Navajo Pine.
She plunked the first batter she saw – Warrior Rohme Chee – and gave up three runs in the first inning before settling down to strike out the side.
“She had a cramp in her shoulder on that first batter, and that strike zone was kind of ridiculous,” said Capitan coach Kenny Espinosa. “But I’m glad we had the depth to make the changes and get back in it.”
Navajo Pine scored in every inning but the fourth, taking advantage of four Tiger errors and collecting six hits along the way.
But it was Capitan’s bats that eventually decided things, even if they did take a bit to get going sometimes.
“It took them a while to settle down, but this is the first game at State, so they were kind of nervous,” Espinosa said. “Once they settled down, we were OK.”
Capitan scored four and three runs in the first two innings to re-take the lead, but they weren’t able to string together enough hits and runs to finally put the Warriors away until the sixth inning – almost two hours later.
It all added up. The Tigers amassed 13 hits, while Navajo Pine committed an astonishing 14 errors in the six-inning victory.
Destanie Magnone and Estrella Sedillo each went 3-for-5 at the plate with six runs between them, while Shelby Southard was 2-for-4 with four runs batted in.
Kylie Pruett had a single hit – a triple in the first inning – but had to come out from catching with back spasms. She eventually re-entered at center field, where she remained for the rest of the day.
Espinosa made the decision to start Magnone against Loving and put Southard in the circle against Estancia in the double-elimination game.
Capitan (12-13) started with promise against the Bears, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
In that opening frame, the Tiger defense was on in a 3-up-3-down performance. But things went south pretty quickly in the next inning.
A walk and another hit batter by Southard set the table for a two-RBI single by Siara Pope, and Estancia scored in every inning except the fifth from then on.
Capitan didn’t exactly go quietly. In the third, the Tigers pushed across four runs – including a two-RBI triple by Sedillo – to make it a 7-5 contest.
But things started to fall apart in the sixth, when Estancia batted around and pushed six runs across against Magnone in relief.
Even then, the game wasn’t out of reach for Capitan. Another run in the bottom of the sixth made it 16-11, nothing a solid team couldn’t come back from.
Unfortunately, the Bears pushed across another six runs in the seventh, a rally that ended only after Valadez was brought on to pitch and set down the two batters she faced.