.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Softball: Toppers blanked in 2AAAA games

-A A +A
By Mike Cote

ESPAÑOLA — Only three games into the District 2AAAA season and already the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team has a deep hole to climb out of.The Hilltoppers dropped both ends of a big early district season doubleheader Saturday to the Española Valley Sundevils.The Sundevils, the defending district champs and considered the team to beat in 2AAAA this season blanked the Hilltoppers twice Saturday, winning 9-0 in the opener and 10-0 in the nightcap.The two games were quick affairs, getting over before the concurrent first game of the Los Alamos-Española Valley baseball game was wrapped up.Little went right for the Hilltoppers in either game, including manager Randy Burditt considering the consequences of protesting game one because the games’ umpires didn’t have proof of state certification on their uniforms.But the Hilltoppers struggled with their bats in the first game. They actually kept the game within reasonable striking distance until the Sundevils blew the contest open with four runs in the sixth inning.In the sixth, Española Valley picked up four hits off starter Ashley Merhege, who had allowed just four hits in the game up to that point. The big blow of the inning was a double to the left field fence by center fielder Renee Roybal to knock in a run.Then, two batters later, Adriana Serna came through with a base hit to drive in another run.Despite Española Valley figuring out Merhege in the sixth, the Hilltoppers never figured out pitcher Andrea Martinez, who tossed a complete game.“We just didn’t hit the ball,” Burditt said. “It was that simple. We didn’t hit the ball.”Martinez faced the minimum number of hitters through four innings. And when the Hilltoppers did get on board, they ran themselves out of three innings.Megan Burditt broke up Martinez’s no-hitter, leading off the fourth with a base hit, but she was doubled-up to end the inning on a line out by Merhege.No Hilltopper reached base more than once in game one.To make matters worse, catcher Cassandra Arellano injured her hand on a putout at the plate to end the bottom of the fifth inning. Los Alamos went into the game already playing short-handed with Sam Aumack on injured reserve.There are still nine games left in the 2AAAA season for the Hilltoppers (6-10, 1-2 in 2AAAA), but they probably won’t be able to afford to drop anymore district games if they want to keep a realistic hope of a district title alive. Even with a sweep of the remaining district games — a realistic possibility since Capital, Bernalillo and Taos had a combined three wins heading into the 2AAAA season — Los Alamos will still need Española Valley (9-5, 2-0 in 2AAAA) to stumble before their next meeting April 30.