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With a late comeback attempt, the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team had a chance to erase a disastrous fifth inning Tuesday.
Los Alamos, which trailed by 6 runs going into its final at-bat, scored three times and had the tying run at the plate against St. Pius X and pitcher Katie Johnson.
But Johnson, who labored through the final three innings, got Alyssa Mojica to ground out with two runners on in the seventh to preserve a 12-9 victory over the Hilltoppers at Overlook Park.
Los Alamos put four of its first five batters of the seventh inning on board and Kiana Zerr and Shelby Chavez came through with RBI singles in the inning before Johnson finally got out of the jam.
“They showed a lot of fight, even during that last inning,” Los Alamos manager Roger Anaya said afterward. “We had one bad inning…but every girl who came up to bat, they were all eager. You always look forward to being the hero and today we had a lot of girls who wanted to be the hero.”
Los Alamos and St. Pius, of course, have played tight contests in the past and Tuesday’s game might have even been tighter if not for a disastrous fifth inning for the Hilltoppers.
The Sartans (6-3) scored 6 times in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of 4 Hilltopper errors and some other mishandled balls in the field. The Hilltoppers could’ve gotten out of the inning completely unscathed, but instead fell behind 11-3 at that point, the big blow of the inning being a 2-run home run by St. Pius’ Kaitlyn Archibeque.
The Sartans, who swung the bat very well against Los Alamos pitching, collected 14 hits on the day, at least one in every inning. Center fielder Gabby Mora, who was slugging .833 heading into the game, had a 2-run homer of her own in the first and a double in the third inning.
Zerr started the game Tuesday, throwing five innings before giving way to Jordan Hammock. She gave up 11 runs, although only 4 of them were earned.
Her counterpart, Johnson, one of the harder throwers Los Alamos has seen recently, looked like she settled into a groove, retiring five batters in a row at one point early in the contest, but walked two straight batters in the fourth inning ahead of Elizabeth Anaya, who took a 2-strike pitch the other way to drive in Krysta Salazar and Emilee Jones and cut the St. Pius edge to just 5-3 at that point.
But the wheels fell off for Los Alamos in the Sartans’ next at-bat. The Sartans took advantage, grabbing an 8-run lead and had a chance to put Los Alamos in danger of being mercy-ruled with Mora at the plate.
But Zerr got Mora to pop up to right field for the third out.
Despite the loss, the Hilltoppers (3-5) have been swinging the bat well recently, following a slow start to the season. The Hilltoppers have scored 44 runs in their last three games, which included two wins over Moriarty and Pojoaque Valley in consecutive weeks.
Tuesday’s game was just Los Alamos’ third game since March 11.