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SANTA FE — Following a disappointing District 2-4A opening loss, the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team was in serious jeopardy of falling into a deep early hole.
Instead, the Hilltoppers picked up a big district sweep on the road and are back in the thick of things.
Los Alamos scored 4 unanswered runs in the opening game against the Santa Fe Demons Saturday, then exploded for 8 runs in the top of the fifth of game two to win that contest going away.
The Hilltoppers took the first game 5-3 then picked up a 14-5 win in the nightcap. The two wins put the Hilltoppers (6-10 overall, 2-1 in 2-4A) in a tie for second place with the Española Valley Sundevils, whom the Hilltoppers will host Wednesday.
Los Alamos’ Kiana Zerr, who had thrown limited innings during the nondistrict season, earned victories in both games.
Zerr threw a complete game in the opener, giving up just three hits and two earned runs. In game two, Zerr came on in the fifth in relief of Jordan Hammock, setting down 9 of the 11 batters she faced.
In the first game, Zerr had to pitch her way around trouble in the second and third innings. In the fourth, Santa Fe rallied for 3 runs in the fourth getting doubles in the inning from KK Porras and Destiny Chavez.
That would be the last hurrah in that game for the Demons, however.
“After awhile we got to know how the players bat,” Zerr said. “I threw strikes on the outside corner. They hit a few of those but we had good defense backing us up.”
In the second inning, Alex Russell singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch, but Cristina Perez caught a fly ball in right field and threw a bullet to second base to retire Russell, getting the Hilltoppers out of the inning unscathed.
With Los Alamos trailing in the top of the fifth, it pushed a pair of runs across the plate. Aletta Marciano reached base on an error and moved to third on a base hit from Erin Kirk.
Then Santa Fe misplayed a routine fly ball to center field, allowing both Marciano and Kirk to score on the play. Los Alamos scored the go-ahead run in the sixth, with Marciano knocking Emilee Jones in, while Micaela Christensen belted a solo home run to lead off the seventh for insurance.
Santa Fe, which crushed Española Valley April 3 in its 2-4A opener, 11-0, slipped to 1-2 in district play (7-6 overall), putting it fourth ahead of Capital, which dropped a weekend doubleheader against the Sundevils.
In the nightcap Saturday, Marciano went 4-for-4, scored three runs and drove in a run. Alyssa Mojica and Krysta Salazar were both 2-for-4. Micaela and Kristin Christensen both drove in two runs, while Kirk had a double, scored two runs and drove in a run.
Hammock went 4 innings, giving up 3 earned runs and struck out 4.
For Santa Fe, both Jackie Martinez and starting pitcher Destiny Chavez went yard.
The game was tied at 5 after four innings before Los Alamos’ big 8-run rally broke the contest wide open.
Chavez took the loss, giving up 13 runs – only 1 of them earned — on 11 hits. Santa Fe’s defense committed 7 errors behind her and Russell, who came on in relief after 4-1/3.
Los Alamos manager Roger Anaya said his team knew exactly how important Saturday’s doubleheader was.
“We came into this weekend hoping to sweep, so we can stay close to Bernalillo,” he said. “We knew that splitting today would put us in a tough situation and would make it harder for us to compete for the district championship. We needed to hit the ball well, play good defense and score when we had the opportunities. And even though we did leave a lot of base runners on base, we also manufactured many of the runs. We just have to continue to do what we have been doing the last few games and get ready for Española on Wednesday.”