Los Alamos Softball Advances To State

The Topper have a cheer before taking to the field in their final games of the season. They faced the Pojoaque Elkettes on the softball field at the Pojoaque High School this past Saturday. The Toppers struggled in the first game and lost 2-12 in five innings. The second game was a much better showing and they won 16-10. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

 

By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post

The Los Alamos High School softball team got some good news May 5 after having to settle for second place in District 2-4A following a 12-2 loss to Pojoaque Valley High School in the first game of a doubleheader May 4 at Pojoaque.

The next day, Los Alamos found out that they had received the 14th seed in the Class 4A state softball championships, keeping their season alive.

The Lady Hilltoppers will travel to third-seeded Aztec High School Saturday to take on the Lady Tigers in the opening round of the tournament.

The Hilltoppers did bounce back and defeated Pojoaque 16-10 in the second game of the doubleheader. The win secured second place in District 2-4A. Despite winning two of their three games against Pojoaque in District 2-4A competition, the Hilltoppers finished with an 8-4 record in district play. Pojoaque finished 9-3 in first place.

Los Alamos took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning in the first game. Claire Bluhm singled to drive in Alicia Gonzales with a single. Savana Luster started on the mound for the Hilltoppers and Pojoaque jumped all over her, scoring four runs to take a 4-1 lead. The Elkettes sent nine batters to the plate.

In the second inning, Los Alamos loaded the bases with one out. Pojoaque pitcher Rebecca Chavez got out of the jam by striking out Janessa Gonzales and Bluhm. Los Alamos left five runners on base in the first two innings.

Pojoaque was still hammering Luster. Isabella Robertson came on in relief in the second inninng and her luck was no better. Robertson gave up four hits, walked three batters and hit another with a pitch. By the time Los Alamos found the answer by putting Katie Wimer on the mound, Pojoaque had scored seven runs. Wimer gave up an unearned run and the Elkettes led 12-1 after two innings.

Pitching more confidently with a big lead, Chavez settled down and allowed the Hilltoppers just one more run while her defense made the plays in the field. Wimer was just as effective for Los Alamos, shutting the Elkettes down the next two innings. The damage had already been done. Los Alamos managed just one more run in the top of the fourth inning. Down 12-2 in the top of the fifth inning and needing at least one run to stay alive, Los Alamos couldn’t come up with it and lost under the 10-run mercy rule.

The Hilltoppers were held to just six hits in the first game

“In that first game, we weren’t hitting,” Los Alamos Coach Robbie Harris said. “In the second game, we did.”

It was a different story in the second game, as Los Alamos got to Pojoaque starter Michaela Martinez early and often. Pojoaque had a 2-0 lead when the Hilltoppers scored four runs in the top of the second inning. Aspen DeHerrera’s home run highlighted the outburst.  Pojoaque came up with two runs to tie the score before the Hilltoppers next big outburst.

Los Alamos scored six runs in the top of the fourth inning. Wimer helped her own cause by cracking a two-run homer. She leads the Hilltoppers with six home runs. The ineffective Martinez was replaced by Chavez, but Los Alamos had finally found its hitting stroke. The Pojoaque defense was not the efficient machine it had been in the first game and started to show some wear and tear. Los Alamos took a 10-4 lead.

Pojoaque could still put runs on the board and by the top of the seventh inning had narrowed Los Alamos’ lead down to 13-10. The Hilltoppers came up with three runs in the top of the seventh for a 16-10 lead. Wimer held the Elkettes scoreless in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure the victory.

Wimer picked up the victory despite giving up 14 hits and 10 runs, only five of which were earned as the Hilltoppers did commit four errors. She struck out nine batters. Those timely whiffs helped keep Pojoaque from having the big inning like they had done in the first game. Wimer issued just two walks in seven innings.

The Hilltoppers had 17 hits in the second game.

Los Alamos finishes the regular season 15-11 overall. Their opponent in the opening round of the state tournament, Aztec, was 19-7 on the season and won the District 1-4A championship with a 9-1 record. The opening round of the state softball championships is a one-game knockout played at the home of the higher seed. The winner advances to the state championships in Albuquerque. The final games of the championships are played under a double-elimination format with a team having to lose twice before being eliminated.

Alicia Gonzales files into home plate ahead of the throw for the first run in 1st inning in the first game. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Anissa Herrera crosses the base ahead of the throw to Maya McMillian covering 1st in the first inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Aspen DeHerrera reaches for the ball as Elysia Gonzales slides into 2nd base and made the out in the 1st inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Savana Luster playing right field makes the catch for the 2nd out in the 2nd inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Claire Bluhm gets under the ball for the 3rd out in the 2nd inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Katie Wimer picks up a bunt attempt and threw to 1st for the first out in the 7th inning as Megan Romero comes in to back her up. Wimer came in the second inning to take over the pitching duties and finished the game. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

Second baseman Maya McMillian pitched the ball to the shortstop Aspen DeHerra covering 2nd as Anissa Herrera tries to bet the tag for the 3rd out in the 4th inning. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com

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