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LAHS softball prepared for big success

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By Phil Scherer

The Los Alamos High School softball team is a confident and motivated group that appears ready to do whatever it takes to find success in May.

Last season, the Hilltoppers won District 2-5A with an 11-1 record, and advanced to the state championship tournament as the No. 11 seed.

However, for the fourth year in a row, that was the end of the road. Since 2014, LAHS has earned a spot in the state tournament only to lose by double digits in the first round.

Ever since the season ended, the Hilltoppers have worked hard to reverse that trend, and believe this year’s group has what it takes to make a run at the state championship.

For head coach Randy Burditt, the main reason for that optimism is how many girls he has returning from last year’s team and the amount of talent he will be able to put on the field every day.

“That’s going to be our strength is our returners,” Burditt said. “They all worked hard in the offseason to get better, stronger, faster.”

Among the returners Burditt will be counting on heavily this year is senior Jayde Tucker, the team’s starting catcher.

“She comes with the credentials of holding the team together, and holding the pitching staff together,” Burditt said.

For her part, Tucker appears to be prepared to embrace that role. Her favorite part of being a catcher is being the one in control of all the action and having the best view on the field.

“You’re like the captain of the field,” Tucker said. “And it’s a pretty important job because without the catcher there would probably be no game.”

She believes that as a group, the Hilltoppers have great team chemistry, which will go a long way toward finding success again this season.

“I just think that if we stay gelled together like we have been for quite a while, we will have huge success,” Tucker said.

Achieving that level of success will depend heavily on the pitching staff, anchored by senior Reyna Lucero. Last season, Lucero went 10-3 and appeared in 19 games.

Also returning to the pitching staff is sophomore Savana Luster, who appeared in 13 games last year, and sophomore Katie Wimer, who made four appearances her freshman year.

Joining the staff this year is freshman Jenna Harris.

On offense, the team returns the heart of its lineup from last season.

Junior Alicia Gonzales will be a key player for the team, coming off a season in which she batted .500 with 4 home runs and 29 runs batted in. She also added 12 doubles and 3 triples.

Burditt said that Gonzales would play a key role on defense as the team’s center fielder.

Another key contributor on both sides of the ball will be senior Lauren Harris, who batted .488 with 3 home runs and 29 runs batted in as the team’s starting shortstop. She also led the team with 14 stolen bases.

The wild card for the Hilltoppers will be senior Jordan Jaramillo, who missed last season with an injury.

“She is back with a vengeance,” Burditt said.

Jaramillo said she is excited to get back on the field after watching from the sidelines, and believes she will bring a lot to the table for her team.

“I am ready to get back out there,” Jaramillo said. “It was a long sit last year.”

She will have her first opportunity to get back on the field this weekend in the Piedra Vista tournament, before playing the first home games of the season next weekend at home against St. Pius at Overlook Park.

The season will be busy for LAHS, as the Hilltoppers play every weekend from now until late April. Despite the tough schedule, Burditt remains confident his team will be successful. But he knows nothing is assured.

“We can’t take anybody lightly,” Burditt said. “You just have to go out and play your game. As long as we play our game, we will take care of ourselves.”