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It was a rough way to start the season for the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team.
Los Alamos opened its 2014 campaign Wednesday at Overlook Park, but had a tough order to fill in taking on the Cleveland Storm, a Class 5A club from Rio Rancho.
And Cleveland showed why it was tough from the get-go. Cleveland pushed four runs across in the top of the first and scored in every inning of a mercy-rule shortened 15-1 victory.
It was an interesting match-up between two very young teams — most of the Hilltoppers’ opening day roster is sophomores, while the Storm have more freshmen and eighth graders than juniors seniors.
But Cleveland swung the bat very well, touching Los Alamos pitchers Emilee Jones and Jordan Hammock for 19 hits in five innings, including three extra-base, two of them coming from pitcher Brooke Hodgson. Hodgson crushed a fastball off Hammock in the fourth inning for a home run to almost straightaway center, giving herself a 13-1 edge at that time.
Jones threw three innings, giving up 9 runs, before giving way to Hammock, who threw the final two innings.
Following Wednesday’s contest, Los Alamos manager Roger Anaya said his team still has plenty to work on and is still awaiting the return of three basketball players, including ace pitcher Kiana Zerr.
Los Alamos’ only run of the game came in its first at-bat. Sophomore Taylor Jaramillo, one of several newcomers to the team this season, sent a flare down the left field line to drive in Shelby Chavez. Chavez, the No. 2 hitter for Los Alamos, had the only other hit of the game for the Hilltoppers, singling into right field to get aboard.
Following the first inning, Hodgson got into a groove and set down the next 13 batters in a row to close out the contest. Hodgson threw harder than most of the pitchers Los Alamos had seen during the preseason and ended up striking out seven batters in her five innings of work.
The Hilltoppers’ young team will be tried by fire this week.
Next up, they have the Linda Crabtree Softball Challenge in the Four Corners area.
Among the teams the Hilltoppers will see there is Piedra Vista, the premier program in the state. The Hilltoppers take on Piedra Vista to open their portion of the tournament 11 a.m. Friday.
Also at the tournament, Los Alamos will see Bloomfield, Eldorado and Blanding, Utah.