Hilltopper softball takes control of District 2-5A

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By Phil Scherer

With a 12-6 win over Capital High School Wednesday afternoon, the Los Alamos High School softball team is now firmly in first place in District 2-5A and controls its own destiny for the state tournament.

“The nice thing is, the girls never stopped,” LAHS head coach Randy Burditt said. “They kept battling. That’s a good softball game right there. Capital played tough.”

Though the game started as a blowout for the Hilltoppers, it became far closer than expected in the late going, and required great pitching by Savana Luster to secure the win.  

At the plate, the Hilltoppers had no trouble putting runners on base through the first three innings, but struggled to bring them around to home plate. In the second inning, the Hilltoppers had the bases loaded with two outs before Janessa Gonzales struck out to end the inning with just 1 run scoring. In the third inning, LAHS had two runners in scoring position with one out, but again only scored once as Claire Bluhm popped out to the third baseman and Megan Romero struck out to end the inning. 

However, the Hilltoppers struck for 4 runs in the fourth inning, breaking the game open with a 6-0 lead. 

“That’s when the floodgates opened,” Burditt said. “We worked hard for the first three innings putting runners on, putting them where we wanted them, and we just needed a hit to come through.”

LAHS extended the lead to 10-0 with 4 more runs in the sixth inning. Lauren Harris hit a home run to score the first run of the inning, one of her three hits during the game. 

Three more extra-base hits followed, by Katie Wimer, Bluhm and Romero, putting the Hilltoppers in position to win via the mercy rule 

Through five innings, Luster dominated on the mound for the Hilltoppers, allowing only two hits, while pitching a shutout. However, after allowing a leadoff single to begin the sixth inning, Luster was pulled in favor of Reyna Lucero. 

The move did not pay off, as Lucero allowed 6 runs to score, while recording only two outs. Luster was then re-inserted into the game and retired the first batter she faced to end the inning. 

Burditt explained that the coaching staff’s thinking was that Lucero gave the team the best chance to record three quick outs and end the game in the sixth inning. 

He also cited concerns about Luster’s pitch count.

“The thought process was, we are up by 10, let’s try to finish this thing off,” Burditt said. “And it didn’t go our way.”

After LAHS added 2 runs in the top of the seventh inning to go up 12-6, Luster was able to finish the game off in the bottom of the inning, securing the victory. 

With the win, the Hilltoppers move to 5-1 in District 2-5A, and now enjoy a two-game lead for first place. There is a three-way tie for second place behind LAHS, as Española Valley, Capital and Albuquerque Academy are all either 2-2 or 3-3 in district play. 

LAHS will return to action this weekend in Albuquerque with a doubleheader against Del Norte Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. 

Del Norte is 3-11 overall, and is winless in district play so far this season. 

Earlier this year, LAHS defeated Del Norte 20-0 at Overlook Park.