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Wednesday’s diamond contests at Española Valley could go a long way to determining the outcome of this year’s baseball and softball district races.
Both the Los Alamos Hilltopper teams have big games Wednesday when they face the Sundevils. The two games are scheduled for 4 p.m.
Currently, both Hilltopper teams are sitting atop District 2-4A. In softball, the Sundevils are the Hilltoppers’ final major challenger in district.
Los Alamos, which has lost just one district contest, that coming in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader with Santa Fe, doesn’t have to beat Española Valley Wednesday — even with a loss, it would need to win just one game this weekend against lowly Capital to clinch the crown — because it owns every conceivable tiebreaker over Bernalillo, Española Valley and Santa Fe’s Demons.
However, coming off the 8-6 loss, a game which Los Alamos struggled through mentally but had a chance to win at the end after stringing three RBI hits together late, including Erin Kirk’s RBI double in the seventh inning.
Los Alamos’ 11-game win streak was snapped with the game two loss, along with its impressive six-game streak without an error in game one. Saturday, the defense wasn’t sharp and made things more difficult for Los Alamos ace Monika Teter, who was going for her third complete-doubleheader wins of the district season.
“We lost a little focus early in the game,” Hilltopper manager Roger Anaya said. “We had some errors early in the second game, but after that, I thought we played well.”
For Española Valley (13-8, 4-6 in 2-4A), the district season hasn’t gone as well as the team expected, but a strong finish against Los Alamos and Bernalillo April 25 could put the Sundevils in line for an at-large invitation to May’s Class 4A postseason.
The Hilltoppers, behind Teter, swept the Sundevils 11-0 and 6-0 March 31 at Overlook Park.
For Wednesday’s baseball game, the stakes are even higher.
The Hilltoppers (15-6, 7-1) and Sundevils (10-6, 7-2) are neck-and-neck for the 2-4A lead. The two teams split a March 31 doubleheader, with Los Alamos winning the opener 8-1 but falling in the nightcap 6-5.
Los Alamos actually led 4-0 after two innings in game two, but Hilltopper manager Mike Gill said he thought his team might have gotten too content with that lead and the team’s powerful lineup didn’t get back on track.
Los Alamos ace JD Weiss is scheduled to start on the hill, while Española Valley’s No. 1 hurler Joaquin Schoeppner is expected to get the ball for the Sundevils.
A win for the Hilltoppers would put them in excellent position to clinch their fourth consecutive 2-4A title with just three very winnable games remaining against the winless Capital Jaguars.
“We’re going to take this as just another game,” Gill said. “If I could make the kids play play better for one game, wouldn’t I do that for every game? The goal is just to come out put some balls in play and put pressure on the defense.”
A win for the Sundevils would put them atop the 2-4A standing along with giving them the season tiebreaker over the Hilltoppers, but they have two games remaining against Bernalillo, one of which is the conclusion of a heavily-disputed contest April 7 at Española Valley that was initially ruled a forfeiture by Bernalillo after arguing an early-game umpire’s decision.