LA, Bernalillo face off to open 2-4A

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By Mike Cote

It could be a crapshoot in District 2-4A baseball and softball this season, but both Los Alamos Hilltopper teams have as good a shot as anyone.
Both the Hilltopper baseball and softball teams open district play Wednesday, playing approximately 100 yards from each other. The teams will take on Bernalillo’s Spartans in single contests Wednesday in Bernalillo.
The district season consists of 12 games per team, with each head-to-head matchup consisting of a doubleheader hosted by one team and a single game hosted by the other team.
The Hilltopper baseball team was four games under .500 heading into Saturday’s doubleheader against Miyamura — results from those games weren’t available as of press time — but, despite managing just a 4-8 record, still have more wins than Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Capital put together.
District 2-4A could be shaping up to be a two-team race between the Hilltoppers and the Española Valley Sundevils (8-2). The Sundevils who play Aztec Monday before opening their district season Wednesday against Santa Fe, have outscored their opponents nearly 2-1 this season.
However, the big knock on Española Valley is that it hasn’t played the caliber of competition that Los Alamos has. The only two wins Española Valley has against teams with winning records are against Las Vegas Robertson and West Las Vegas.
Should the final 2-4A race come down to those two teams, they meet late in the season in a doubleheader at Española Valley. Their first meeting is scheduled for April 10 at Bomber Field.
Los Alamos has had, by far, the toughest nondistrict schedule of any of the district teams and one of the toughest of any team in the state. Los Alamos has faced defending 4A champ Piedra Vista twice, 2012 runner-up Miyamura three times — it lost the first meeting 7-5 at Piedra Vista’s tournament March 22 — and big-hitting Los Lunas twice.
The Hilltoppers will still have to show they can limit their opponents’ offense. They have surrendered 97 runs on the season (8.1 runs per game).
Santa Fe (3-8) is the only other district team that has won a game this season. However, Santa Fe’s three wins have come against teams that are a combined 8-19 and have been outscored 96-54 so far.
Bernalillo (0-11) and Capital (0-9) aren’t likely to beat anyone in district beyond each other. Los Alamos spanked Bernalillo 11-0 in a nondistrict meeting earlier this month, although that game doesn’t count in the district standings.
Both Los Alamos teams may need big showings during the 2-4A season to get into the playoffs. The Hilltopper baseball team heading into Saturday was 3-5 against Class 4A opponents, not a bad record considering their strength of schedule. However, with 2-4A shaping up to be one of the weaker districts in the classification, getting an at-large bid for the second place team may be a hard sell.
The Hilltopper softball team’s situation is even more tentative.
Following a 17-9 loss to Rio Rancho Friday, Los Alamos is only 2-7 on the season and, going into Saturday, has just one win over a Class 4A team.
The Hilltoppers’ problems were exacerbated by a humbling 11-0 loss at St. Pius X last weekend, marking the team’s fifth defeat against a 4A opponent.
While the Hilltoppers’ losses to Belen, Piedra Vista, Moriary and Miyamura all came with the team not at full strength — several of its players were still playing basketball, that factor usually isn’t taken into account by the seeding and selection committee, as several teams weren’t at full strength at that time of the season, either.
While Los Alamos has shown some ability to put runs on the board so far, it will also have to cut down the number of runs it has allowed.
District 2 is something of a mixed bag competition-wise. Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Española Valley all had records above .500 going into this weekend’s play, but Santa Fe and Española Valley have been inconsistent.
The Sundevils (5-4), who host Santa Fe Wednesday to start district play, lost to Pojoaque Valley and were nipped by Albuquerque Academy in the second half of a doubleheader March 26 after topping the Chargers handily in both the first game and in a tournament meeting four days earlier.
The Demons (6-4) haven’t beaten a 4A team this season and surrendered 20 runs in a doubleheader against Pojoaque Valley, a team Los Alamos shut out.
Heading into the district season, upperclassmen-heavy Bernalillo is the team to beat. The Spartans are undefeated — Bernalillo tied Gallup 1-1 in a shortened tournament game — and has smashed Grants, Pojoaque Valley and Highland in consecutive games.
The Spartans have surrendered just 6 runs in 2013.