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After one inning, it looked like the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team would run away with a victory in its home opener Tuesday.
After seven innings, Los Alamos was breathing a little sigh of relief to have come away with a win.
Los Alamos jumped out to a 3-run lead at Overlook Park and came within a hit or two of breaking the game open in the third and fourth innings.
Instead, Los Alamos had to sweat out a 3-run rally in the top of the fifth by the Pojoaque Elks, not to mention the heart of the Pojoaque order at the plate representing the tying run in the top of the seventh.
However, the Hilltoppers held on in Tuesday’s contest, grabbing a 5-3 victory over the Elks.
“We pulled through as a team,” Hilltopper second baseman Stephanie Abney said. “It was good.”
Abney scored a run in the first and drove in a run in the fourth to help Los Alamos pick up the nondistrict win over its rival down the road.
Meanwhile, Hilltopper Briana Radosevich earned the win on the slab in her first starting job of the season. Radosevich went 4-1/3 innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out five.
Radosevich didn’t surrender her first hit until the fourth inning. The Elks hit a pair of singles in that inning with one out, but Radosevich was able to pitch her way around the hits and an error to keep the Elks off the scoreboard.
But Los Alamos struggled trying to drive in runs despite having runners on base with less than two outs in every inning but the second.
Timely hitting was an issue for the Hilltoppers last weekend at the Performance Auto Sofotball Challenge in Farmington.
Hilltopper first-year manager Roger Anaya said driving in those runs or not driving them in could well be the difference down the stretch this season.
“That’s something we’ll talk about with the girls,” he said. “With less than two outs, we need to at least hit the ball on the ground on the right side so we can score.”
It looked early in Tuesday’s contest that getting runs home wouldn’t be a problem. Catcher Samantha D’Anna crushed a pitch in the gap in left-center to drive in two runs to start what looked like would be a monster inning for Los Alamos (2-3).
The next batter, Arielle Owens, singled back up the box to drive in Nyleen Cook and make the score 3-0, but the rally stalled quickly with a pair of groundouts.
From there, Pojoaque pitcher Mariah Urbina settled in a bit, retiring the side in order in the second and pitching around a Micaela Christensen single to lead off the bottom of the third.
Abney’s base hit in the fourth drove in Radosevich to push the Hilltopper lead to 4-0, but Pojoaque (0-1) answered with three runs in the top of the fifth.
Clean-up hitter Kassie Martinez doubled into right-center to drive in two runs, the big blow of the inning.
Radosevich gave way to Monika Teter in the inning. Teter finished the game without surrendering another hit to pick up the save.
Following the game, Abney said once the Hilltoppers find more offensive consistency with runners-on-base, they should be fine.
“I think we’re swinging the bat pretty well,” she said. “We’re getting on. We just need to hit it solid.”
Los Alamos wasn’t happy with its defense Tuesday, however, as it committed seven errors leading to two of Pojoaque’s runs.