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Softball: Toppers win 2-4A crown with sweep

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By Mike Cote

BERNALILLO — Apparently, the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team got hot at the right time.

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Los Alamos’ impressive win streak it started more than a month ago, but on Saturday, it blossomed into a District 2AAAA championship.

Los Alamos leapt the final hurdle of the 2AAAA race Saturday, taking both ends of a doubleheader from Bernalillo’s Spartans. Pitcher Monika Teter earned the victory in the first game, then came back in the nightcap to close out the win.

The Hilltoppers took the opener 9-1, then held on for a 15-12 decision in game two. The wins over the Spartans, who came into the day just one game back of the Hilltoppers in the district race, cemented the district title.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Hilltopper manager Roger Anaya said after the victories. “The kids are happy, but as soon as the second game was over, I told them we’ve got to go right back to work Monday.”

The district title, the first in Anaya’s two-year run leading the program, assures the Hilltoppers of a Class AAAA playoff appearance.

The playoffs will be played next month in Las Cruces.

The Hilltoppers wasted no time in game one getting on top of the Spartans. They scored three times in the top of the first and six more times in the top of the second to take a commanding lead in that ballgame.

“It definitely took a lot of the pressure off me,” Teter said of the big early run support in the opener. “After our team gets the bat on the ball, it’s bread and butter.”

Los Alamos wouldn’t score again the ballgame, however, after the third inning, but it wouldn’t need to.

Teter didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the sixth, a scratch infield single, the only inning of the contest in which the Spartans would get multiple runners on base.

For the game, Teter fanned 11 batters — she had at least one strikeout in each inning — and faced just two batters more than the minimum through five.

Teter said the possibility of throwing a first-game no-hitter started to sink in late in the contest.

“I haven’t had a no-hitter all season,” she said. “It was kind of in the back of my mind. I started thinking ‘I’ve got to get this one down, I’ve got to get that one down.”

Stephanie Abney started and won the second game and, offensively, got good production hitting out of the clean-up spot in the order.

The Bernalillo pitching staff threw around the Hilltoppers’ No. 3 hitter, Micaela Christensen, throughout the two contests. Christensen, who was getting frustrated at the plate during game two, walked six times on the day and was hit by a pitch.

But Abney finished 2-for-4 with a double and drove in a pair of runs in the first game, then matched those totals in the second game.

With Los Alamos leading 6-4 after three innings, it exploded for eight runs in the top of the fourth. The first five Hilltopper batters of the inning reached base safely and all five scored.

For the game, the Hilltoppers pounded out 15 hits.

Third baseman Sam D’Anna singled with the bases loaded, then Kristina Radosevich did likewise later in the inning to drive in a pair of runs, pushing the Hilltoppers’ advantage to 14-4.

Bernalillo (11-9 overall, 6-3 in 2AAAA) wouldn’t go away, however, coming back in the bottom of the frame with six runs of its own. Los Alamos committed five errors in the inning leading to the Spartans’ runs.

Teter, who threw 110 pitches in the first game, came back to throw another 80 in game two. Teter was also the winning pitcher for Los Alamos (15-7 overall, 9-0 in 2AAAA) in Thursday’s nondistrict contest at home against Sue Cleveland High School.

Anaya said there wouldn’t be a lot of celebrating following this victory, however, as his team’s goal is to go through all 12 games of the 2AAAA season undefeated. Los Alamos has just three district games remaining and a nondistrict contest against AAAA foe Moriarty before the regular season wraps up.

The district crown was the first for the team since it split the title in 2004.