Baseball/softball: LA teams open district play Wednesday

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By The Staff

Both Los Alamos Hilltopper diamond crews will open their District 2AAAA seasons at home Wednesday.

Wednesday marks the start of both the 2AAAA baseball and softball seasons for Los Alamos when both teams host the Taos Tigers. Both of Wednesday’s games are single contests.

While neither Hilltopper team is heading into the 2AAAA season with particularly good win-loss marks, neither sport has produced a clear district front-runner heading in.

Los Alamos’ softball team, for its part, has posted a record of 3-7 through the first month of the 2010 season.

So far this season, the Hilltoppers have played mostly competition from the Four Corners area, arguably the epicenter of softball prowess in the state. In two tournaments in the Four Corners, they played Kirtland Central, Farmington, Aztec, Shiprock and Bloomfield, going 2-6 in those contests, with both of those wins coming over Shiprock.

In 2009, Los Alamos finished as the runner-up in the 2AAAA race behind Española Valley. Although Los Alamos beat Española Valley in two of three head-to-head contests, the Sundevils squeaked out a district win with their sweep of doubleheader over Bernalillo on the final day of the regular season.

So far in the pre-district season, the Sundevils (6-3) have posted the only winning record of any of the five 2AAAA teams. Their strength of schedule hasn’t been too bad, either with victories over Pojoaque (7-2) and a season-opening split with Socorro (7-6), both from Class AAA.

Española Valley opens its 2AAAA season against Capital Wednesday, a team it demolished 23-0 in the first round of the St. Michael’s Invitational Thursday. Española Valley finished in second place in that tournament, falling to Moriarty 7-4 in the championship game.

Hilltopper manager Roger Anaya said his team has been just a few hits away from winning two other games this season and is hoping his offense, led by slugging catcher Micaela Christensen, will be able to find those hits during the district season.

The 2AAAA race could well come down to Los Alamos and Española Valley this season, as none of the district’s other three teams have posted more than one win so far.

In the district’s baseball race, Los Alamos could have its work cut out for it.

In 2010, the Hilltoppers (1-9) have managed just one win, that coming over struggling Class AAA squad Pojoaque (1-4) last week.

While no 2AAAA team has managed a winning record so far — Bernalillo and Española Valley are both 5-5-1 heading into today’s play — Los Alamos has had the toughest pre-district schedule among the five district squads.

Los Alamos has already twice played Piedra Vista, the No. 1 team in the state according to last week’s New Mexico High School Coaches Association Class AAAA poll, along with Farmington and Moriarty.

The Hilltoppers, however, lost to Bernalillo already this season, dropping a 9-8 decision to the Spartans March 12 at the St. Pius X Invitational.

Despite the record, Los Alamos has actually played better in its recent contests, losing to Aztec and Moriarty by a combined four runs — Saturday’s game with Moriarty was its first home game of 2010 — to go along with the victory over Pojoaque.

Taos (2-3), which for several seasons under the tutelage of manager Raymond Valerio, was among the district contenders, but has struggled to stay competitive during the district race in recent years. Taos was waxed by Pojoaque’s Elks 11-1 March 24 at Pojoaque.

Los Alamos won the 2AAAA title in 2009, its first district championship since joining 2AAAA in 2001 and the first under the leadership of  manager Mike Gill, now in his sixth season.