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Softball players will say immediately that nothing hurts worse than the sting of a bat after not connecting solidly with a pitch on a cold day.
Micaela Christensen had no such issue in the third inning Thursday.
Christensen crushed a fastball over the left-center field fence Thursday, the big blow of a 5-run inning as the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team thumped Santa Fe.
To close out the contest, Los Alamos scored 4 runs in the sixth inning to take its home opener 13-5. The game was called after six innings owing to darkness.
Christensen, a freshman catcher for Los Alamos who displayed some power on the varsity team last season as an eighth-grader, powered the fastball from Santa Fe pitcher Sara Galano for a 2-run shot that put Los Alamos up 6-3 at the time.
“I didn’t even feel it,” Christensen said of the first home run of her varsity career. “You get a good hit like that, you don’t even feel it.”
For the game, she finished 3-for-3 with four RBI and a run scored.
Los Alamos’ big inning couldn’t have come at a better time Thursday.
In the top of the third, the Hilltoppers gave away two runs to the Demons with two outs and no one on base.
After Hilltopper pitcher Monika Teter had struck out the first two batters of the inning, two back-to-back errors put Demon lead-off batter Brie Villa on third base. A pair of hits, a single and a double, drove in two runs, before Teter got Galano, the Demons’ clean-up hitter, to ground out to short.
Teter, a sophomore who is coming into 2010 off a solid freshman year, threw a complete game, finishing with 9 strikeouts and giving up 3 earned runs.
Christensen said afterward that Teter did a good job most of the game of getting herself out of trouble.
“Monika pitched a great game,” she said. “She fell apart a little bit during the middle (innings), but we talked in the dugout in the middle of those innings. I told her to concentrate on her fastball and hit her spots.”
Teter shut Santa Fe down in the fifth and sixth innings, getting out of the sixth unscathed after a walk, an error and a hit set Santa Fe up with runners on first and third, while her offense supplied the run support.
Immediately before Christensen’s homer, center fielder Brianna Radosevich doubled home two runs to give the Hilltoppers their first lead of the game.
In the sixth, second baseman Stephanie Abney singled in Radosevich and Christensen as part of a 4-run inning to seal the victory.
While the early practice schedule for the Hilltoppers (2-3) was hampered by unfavorable weather, Los Alamos manager Roger Anaya said the team’s hitting was already showing signs of life.
“Last year, we couldn’t get the timely hitting we needed,” Anaya said. “(Thursday), with two outs, we were able to drive in some critical runs.”
Anaya said the team has spent a lot of time this season working on bunting, which he felt paid off Thursday — a soft, slow infield in White Rock made for ideal conditions.
Los Alamos opened its season this past weekend at the Piedra Vista Invitational, dropping three of four contests to Four Corners-area teams at the tournament.
“We faced tough competition,” Anaya said of the tournament. “There were a lot of tough AAAA teams, which was good. Bloomfield is No. 1 in the state in AAA...that was a good start to the season.”