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  • Cleveland throttles LA Wednesday

    It was a rough way to start the season for the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team.
    Los Alamos opened its 2014 campaign Wednesday at Overlook Park, but had a tough order to fill in taking on the Cleveland Storm, a Class 5A club from Rio Rancho.
    And Cleveland showed why it was tough from the get-go. Cleveland pushed four runs across in the top of the first and scored in every inning of a mercy-rule shortened 15-1 victory.
    It was an interesting match-up between two very young teams — most of the Hilltoppers’ opening day roster is sophomores, while the Storm have more freshmen and eighth graders than juniors seniors.
    But Cleveland swung the bat very well, touching Los Alamos pitchers Emilee Jones and Jordan Hammock for 19 hits in five innings, including three extra-base, two of them coming from pitcher Brooke Hodgson. Hodgson crushed a fastball off Hammock in the fourth inning for a home run to almost straightaway center, giving herself a 13-1 edge at that time.
    Jones threw three innings, giving up 9 runs, before giving way to Hammock, who threw the final two innings.
    Following Wednesday’s contest, Los Alamos manager Roger Anaya said his team still has plenty to work on and is still awaiting the return of three basketball players, including ace pitcher Kiana Zerr.

  • Softball opens vs. Cleveland

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team will start its 2014 campaign at home this afternoon.
    Los Alamos will take on Rio Rancho Cleveland, a very solid Class 5A program, today at Overlook Park.
    There are a lot of new faces around the Hilltopper program this season. More than half the team’s opening day roster is sophomores and the team will be looking to fill some key roles early.
    Among the biggest questions for Los Alamos is which players will step up on the offensive end following the departure of some of its biggest run-producers like Micaelea Christensen and Erin Kirk.
    Los Alamos scored at a healthy 8 runs-per-game clip last season en route to a 14-11 overall record. It went 10-2 in District 2-4A play, including winning 7 games in a row in one stretch, to earn the district title and advance to the state playoffs.
    Today’s game will also be the season opener for Cleveland, which also went 14-11 last season.
    Cleveland, interestingly, is even younger than Los Alamos, with just three seniors, one junior, and a combined eight freshmen and eighth graders.

  • Big late innings lift Hilltoppers to 10-1 rout

    JACONA — A tight ballgame between the Los Alamos Hiltoppers and the Pojoaque Valley Elks finally got broken open in the top of the fifth inning.
    After that, the Hilltoppers kicked that door in even further.
    After scraping together a couple of runs through the first four innings and holding on to a 2-run lead, Los Alamos scored five times in the top of the fifth, added a run in the sixth, then came up with four more runs in its final at-bat to win going away, 10-1 at Jacona Field.
    Jared Mang had back-to-back RBI doubles in the sixth and seventh innings to help Los Alamos secure its first win of the 2014 season.
    It took awhile for the Hilltoppers’ offense to get on track Tuesday. Los Alamos center fielder Colin Kitts said that may have had more to do with the team’s two games the weekend before.
    “We definitely saw some pretty fast pitching,” Kitts said of the team’s contests at Piedra Vista Saturday. “From seeing PV (throwing) maybe around 80 and their breaking ball around 70, coming over here and (the Elks’) fastball being like 70 and breaking balls around 60, it’s something where you’ve got to learn to adjust. Every team’s going to be different.”
    Kitts, like much of the rest of the batting order, was able to make the adjustment.

  • Herrera named girls soccer coach

    Los Alamos High School filled one of its fall coaching vacancies Tuesday with the hiring of AJ Herrera.
    Herrera, who was the head coach for one season with the Los Alamos boys program, will take over the Los Alamos girls program, it was announced by the LAHS athletic department.
    Herrera ran the Hilltopper boys program for one season, 2006, and led it to a berth in the state Class 4A semifinals. He left following that season to take over the program at Santa Fe.
    “That made me a better coach,” Herrera said, noting that Santa Fe and Los Alamos are very different environments in which to run a program.
    With his hiring, Herrera officially takes over the reins from longtime head coach Jiri Kubicek, who stepped down in January after more than 20 years of leading the program.
    Along with his experience coaching the Demons, Herrera was also a collegiate soccer player at Maryland and was one of the top prep players New Mexico has ever produced. 

  • Española Valley, Capital make boys 4A field

    The Española Valley Sundevils and the Capital Jaguars were the only two teams from District 2 invited to participate in the Class 4A boys basketball state championship tournament.
    The Sundevils earned the No. 9 seed and the Jaguars snuck in as the No. 15 seed.
    Los Alamos, which won only two games this season, wasn’t invited to join the playoff field. It’s the third time in four years Los Alamos has missed out on the postseason.

  • LA takes on St. Pius in first round

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team will face a familiar foe in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday.
    Los Alamos will meet the St. Pius X Sartans to open the 2013-14 playoffs.
    The field for the Class 4A postseason was announced Sunday night by the New Mexico Activities Association. Los Alamos earned the No. 14 seed for the tournament, which paired it up with St. Pius, the No. 3 seed.
    That game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday night at St. Pius.
    The No. 14 seed was about where Hilltopper head coach Ann Stewart figured her team would land when the selections were announced.
    Stewart said that, due to the team’s 13-15 overall record and its 6-11 record against 4A opponents this season, getting anything much above the bottom third of the 16-team bracket was unlikely.
    Los Alamos finished in third place in the District 2 race this season and also took third in last week’s district tournament.
    District 2 put three teams into the field this season. Along with Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Española Valley also made the postseason.
    Santa Fe won both the regular season and district tournament titles, both coming last week, topping Española Valley in consecutive games.

  • LA drops season openers versus PV

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper baseball team will look to break into the win column today when it takes on the Pojoaque Valley Elks.
    Los Alamos opened up its 2014 season Saturday, but was swept in a doubleheader in the Four Corners area by the Piedra Vista Panthers.
    While Hilltopper manager Mike Gill said he would’ve much preferred a couple of wins at Piedra Vista, he thought his team played very well for an opener.
    “We hit the ball pretty hard, but we just didn’t get hits,” Gill said following Saturday’s losses. “We out-hit them (in game two), the difference was when they got guys in scoring position, they got them in.”
    Los Alamos lost the first game 7-2, although the Hilltoppers could’ve kept within striking distance if not for some costly errors late.
    In the second game, Los Alamos bounced back from a 4-0 deficit and actually led 5-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Piedra Vista, however, scratched out a run in the inning to force extras, and won in nine innings, 6-5.

  • Girls basketball game set for Friday evening

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team will play its opening round playoff game at 6 p.m. Friday.
    Los Alamos will take on the St. Pius X Sartans Friday for the right to advance to the quarterfinal round at The Pit. Los Alamos was given the No. 14 seed for the tournament, while the Sartans are the No. 3 seed.
    All first round games will be played this weekend. The venue shifts to The Pit March 11.

  • LA girls pick up No. 14 seed for playoffs

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team secured the No. 14 seed in the upcoming Class 4A playoffs.

    The playoff selections for both the boys and girls teams from around the state were announced this evening. First round playoff games will be played this upcoming Friday and Saturday.

    Los Alamos (13-15) will take on the third-seeded St. Pius X Sartans in the opening round. The Sartans will host that game. Hilltopper athletic director Vicki Nelms said the game will be played at 6 p.m. Friday in Albuquerque.

    The Los Alamos-St. Pius match-up is a rematch from the regular season. St. Pius won that contest going away, 68-44.

    The Hilltoppers were one of three District 2 teams to make the field this year. Santa Fe, the district champion, earned the No. 2 overall seed, while Espanola Valley picked up the No. 5 seed.

    In boys Class 4A, Los Alamos, as expected didn't earn an at-large invitation. Espanola Valley picked up the No. 9 seed as the District 2 champion and Capital snuck in as the No. 15 seed.

    For more information on the upcoming basketball playoffs, see Tuesday's Los Alamos Monitor.

  • LA has tough schedule to open 2014

    While the weather may not be playing ball right now, the Los Alamos Hilltoppers are.
    The season has begun for the Hilltopper baseball program. The team opened up its season this weekend with a doubleheader at Piedra Vista, its usual season-opening jaunt.
    And this will hardly be the only road trip Los Alamos has in its immediate future.
    “We’re definitely going to be road warriors, that’s for sure,” said Hilltopper manager Mike Gill.
    Los Alamos has just one home game set for the month of March, that will be March 12 against Hope Christian.
    Expectations are fairly high right now for the Hilltoppers, who have several returning veterans, lots of arms in the bullpen, and good power at the plate.
    The Hilltoppers sport one of the dominant players in Class 4A, junior Jared Mang, who has been hitting No. 3 in the batting order since his eighth grade season.
    Mang, who plays shortstop when he’s not pitching, had a big season in 2013. Mang hits for power, he hits for average and is a solid No. 1 in the Hilltoppers’ pitching rotation.
    Gill, heading into this weekend’s doubleheader with the mighty Piedra Vista Panthers, said he wasn’t sure exactly who was going to throw this weekend, but was planning to get as many pitchers in as the games would allow him to.