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Softball: LA wins one, drops three at tournament

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By Mike Cote

It was a learning experience for the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team at this weekend’s Performance Auto Softball Challenge.This season’s squad, the youngest manager Randy Burditt has led in his eight years at the helm, dropped three of four at the tournament, which was played Friday and Saturday in Farmington.Los Alamos played a pair of games on Friday and another pair on Saturday. In Friday’s games, Los Alamos fell to El Paso (Texas) Parkland 9-1 and Roswell 6-1.In Saturday’s first game, Los Alamos picked up its first win of the young season with a 5-3 victory over Bernalillo before falling in Saturday’s second game to Goddard, 9-0.The Hilltoppers (1-3) finished the tournament in 13th place.Ashley Merhege was credited with the victory over Bernalillo, throwing seven innings of one-hit ball. She gave up just one walk and didn’t allow an earned run.Merhege finished the game in 92 pitches, a decent count for a seven-inning game.Despite the win, one over an opponent Los Alamos will see in District 2AAAA play, Burditt said things didn’t go quite that swimmingly.“We didn’t play well, but we won,” he said. “It was probably the worst defensive game we had on the weekend, and we won.”The big shot of the game came in the first inning when Cassandra Arellano belted a 3-run homer. Megan Burditt had a pair of doubles and scored two runs, going 3-for-3, and Merhege and Stephanie Abney were each 2-for-3 against Bernalillo.“I’m proud of the girls, the way they played,” Burditt said. “It was cold, windy-cold, and I’m proud of the effort the girls put on the table. But the young girls learned some valuable lessons throughout the weekend.”One of the lessons, Burditt said, was to not let teams have any more chances than necessary. Los Alamos committed some costly errors that kept innings alive throughout the tournament.Against Goddard, eighth-grader Monika Teter started the first varsity game of her career. She pitched two solid innings, but got in trouble in the third and was replaced by Abney.Teter (0-1) took the loss, giving up two runs. She walked five and struck out five.Goddard, smelling blood, put up four runs in that third inning, then added five more in the fourth to close out the game.Los Alamos had only two hits against Goddard.“Our offense for the weekend was scattered,” Burditt said. “We were on-and-off, on-and-off. We’re learning to turn it on and leave it on. That’s what we’re working on this week.”Los Alamos will face Santa Fe, a team it played a preseason scrimmage against, in the first round of the St. Pius X Invitational. That game is scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m.