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Facing a big challenge in its 2012 home opener, the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball hung tough with a big-swinging ballclub.
Unfortunately, the Cleveland Storm’s offense was too much for the Hilltoppers, despite some solid defensive play.
Cleveland, a Class 5A school that was averaging better than 18 runs per game heading into Wednesday’s contest, slugged a pair of home runs in the third inning and pushed three important runs across in the top of the seventh to down the Hilltoppers 10-5 at Overlook Park.
Cleveland, a very good hitting team from top to bottom, had three three-run innings in the contest to help propel it to the win. Only a couple of big defensive plays by the Hilltoppers limited further damage in the third and seventh innings.
Los Alamos’ Monika Teter, who just rejoined the team following basketball season nine days ago, went the distance Wednesday, giving up nine earned runs on 12 hits. Teter came through when the team needed her to, though, retiring six of seven batters she faced in the fifth and sixth inning with the game still close.
Unfortunately, the Hilltoppers missed some scoring opportunities that might have swung the score in their favor. The Hilltoppers left the bases loaded in the second inning and stranded runners on second and third in the third inning with nobody out.
Hilltopper manager Roger Anaya said he was pleased with his team’s effort against a very tough opponent.
“We were toe-to-toe, punch-for-punch with them,” he said. “We had a couple of opportunities where some key hits would’ve opened it up for us.”
Cleveland pitcher Jordan Curry, who went five innings, managed to escape trouble most of the way. Curry, who effectively mixed up her pitch speeds throughout, gave up eight hits and allowed two earned runs while getting Los Alamos to pop out to the infield five times.
Los Alamos attempted a comeback in its final at-bat, opening the inning with four hits. First baseman Erin Kirk had a ground-rule double to start the rally and she and right fielder Alyssa Mojica would come around to score in the inning, but pinch hitter Alyssa Van Anne was cut down trying to advance to second on a throw to the plate for the second out of the inning which effectively quelled the rally.
For Cleveland, catcher Kacie Swihart and center fielder Breanna Blakeway both homered early in the third inning to nearly identical spots in left-center field to put Cleveland up 6-1 at the time.
Nos. 7 and 9 hitters Caiden Yocham and Alissa Montalvo both doubled in the second inning to drive home runs.
On defense, shortstop Micaela Christensen made a big tag-out, throw-out double play in the third and left fielder Ari Larkin made a tough catch, going to her extreme right in the fifth to avoid further damage.