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BERNALILLO — This week is a critical week for the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team in its quest to reach its stated goal of a district championship.
With a huge doubleheader against the Española Valley Sundevils looming this weekend, Los Alamos faced the Bernalillo Spartans Wednesday in a big road contest. The Sundevils are the two-time defending District 2AAAA champions, while the Spartans feel like they could complicate the 2AAAA race if they get hot at the right time.
Also, the Hilltoppers and Spartans met two weeks earlier with the Hilltoppers scratching out a 6-5 victory at home.
But Hilltopper pitcher Monika Teter was up to the challenge of a pressure situation Wednesday, throwing a 1-hitter and striking out 13 on the way to a 2-0 Los Alamos shutout win.
Teter blew through the Bernalillo lineup, allowing just two walks and the seventh inning infield single that deflected off her glove.
Although her counterpart on the Spartans, Emily Rodriguez, was throwing nearly as well, giving up just single tallies in the fourth and fifth innings, Teter said she didn’t feel any undue pressure on her shoulders in Wednesday’s contest.
“I didn’t know what this team looked like, but seeing them all behind the fastball was a huge relief to me,” she said.
Teter got in trouble just twice in the game, but got Cedar Rain Yellowmule to ground out to end the fifth inning, stranding a Bernalillo runner at third base and got some help from her defense in the seventh.
After Desiree Lovato singled to open the seventh inning, second baseman Stephanie Abney fielded a Dee Montaño ground ball, tagged out the passing Lovato and flipped the ball over to first baseman Shelby Courtright to get Montaño by a step.
“I knew my team would back me up,” Teter said of having to pitch around the inning-opening hit, trying to preserve the two-run lead.
At the plate, Teter finished the game 2-for-3. Ashley Valdez was 1-for-2 with the fifth inning RBI and Micaela Chistensen was 1-for-3 and scored what would be the game-winning run.
Los Alamos (6-8 overall, 2-0 in district) broke the scoreless tie in the fourth inning when Nyleen Cook laid down a sacrifice bunt, scoring Christensen from third.
Christensen got on base in the fourth with a single, then moved to third on a stolen base and a passed ball.
The Hilltoppers tacked on their second run an inning later with Valdez singling through the right side of the infield to bring in Brianna Radosevich. Radosevich scored just ahead of a strong relay throw to give the Hilltoppers a little breathing room.
Los Alamos manager Roger Anaya said that because Rodriguez was hampering his team’s offensive efforts, the Hilltoppers went to small-ball to try to push some runs across.