Softball: WR splits its tournament games, stays alive at state

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By Mike Cote

SANTA FE — The White Rock Senior Softball All-Stars finished on both ends of a pair of nail-biters Saturday, but remain alive in the state Little League championship tournament.

White Rock split its two games at Franklin Miles Park Saturday, falling in the first contest to Silver City in the morning and defeating Isleta in an elimination game a few hours later.

Silver City, which is 2-0 in the tournament heading into today’s play, will face White Rock for the state championship title. White Rock will need to win the 10 a.m. game to force a 1-game playoff between the two teams for the state championship, while Silver City needs to win only one or the other of the two contests to earn the title and a trip to the regional tournament in Louisiana.

Today’s tournament game will be played at Franklin Miles Park. Should White Rock prevail this morning, it would force a 1 p.m. title contest.

Silver City 4, White Rock 3

In its first game of the tournament Saturday, White Rock had several chances to put together runs but couldn’t find the hits when it needed them.

Meanwhile, Silver City’s All-Stars nearly got caught getting too cute shuffling its pitching lineup in the morning contest.

White Rock held a pair of 1-run leads throughout its contest against Silver City, but Silver City scratched together a pair of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. Those runs would hold up through the later frames.

After Silver City pushed a pair of runs across in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of a pair of White Rock errors, White Rock bounced right back in the top of the fourth to retake a 1-run advantage.

Silver City pulled its starting pitcher, Breanna Lopez, who up to that point had turned in a very solid performance, in favor of Gabby Morales. From the opening of the inning Morales struggled with her control, hitting a pair of batters — White Rock’s Emily Jones, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, was struck in the foot, forcing home the first run of the inning.

Two pitches later, pinch runner Vicky Lee scored on a wild pitch from Morales. After Lee walked, Silver City sent in reliever Alyssa Sifuentes, who retired the next two batters she faced, leaving three White Rock runners stranded.

For White Rock, Rachel Anaya went the distance, giving up just one earned run in her six innings of work and striking out four without issuing a walk. Unfortunately for Anaya, her defense committed three critical errors behind her.

Friday night, Silver City had to survive a nail-biter of its own. Silver City came back from a late deficit against Isleta to prevail 8-7.

White Rock had its share of chances throughout the contest, but stranded nine runners on base throughout.

It got the lead-off hitter on board four times but managed just five hits in the game.

White Rock 4,      Isleta 2

In Saturday afternoon’s elimination game, White Rock again struggled to get hits with runners on base, but took advantage of some shoddy Isleta defense, particularly early in the contest.

Isleta committed seven errors in the first three innings of play. Only a fine throw from center fielder Katherine Benavidez to cut down White Rock’s Ariana Larkin at the plate held White Rock off the board in the first inning.

But White Rock would cash in on errors in the next two innings. Alyssa Mojica came around on a pair of errors on the same play at first base for the first White Rock run of the contest in the second, while in the third, both Larkin and Anaya would score on a misplayed ground ball.

Isleta actually scored first in the contest, again aided by an error. Briana Abeita doubled and advanced to third on an outfield miscue, while the next batter, Meagan Lucero, drove her home with a RBI grounder.

On the slab, Jones went four innings to earn the victory for White Rock. Jones allowed just three hits and no earned runs.

Anaya pitched the final three innings to earn the save, but had to hang on through a seventh inning rally attempt by Isleta.

Isleta, which had done little offensively since the second inning, strung three hits together to lead off the inning, including Lucero’s double to drive home a run.

But with the bases loaded and only one out, Anaya struck out Isleta’s Tiffany Bias and got Felicia Abetya to pop up to second to end the game.

Mojica went 2-for-3 in the game with a RBI, while Kristin Christensen and Micaela Christensen both finished with triples.