Mistakes cost LAHS at state tourney

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By Phil Scherer

At the state tournament, the lights shine a little brighter. Every big hit draws more applause and every mistake leads to more second-guessing. 

On Thursday in the first round of the 2018 NMAA State Softball Championships, the Los Alamos High School softball team made far too many mistakes, and did not come up with enough big hits down the stretch as the Hilltoppers fell to Aztec High School 14-7. 

LAHS head coach Randy Burditt said that he was proud of his team, and that this experience will make them stronger going forward. 

“They came out hitting just like we wanted them to, and we got up,” Burditt said. “We had a couple throwing errors that opened the door for them.”

In the early going, the game appeared to be all Hilltoppers. Before starting pitcher Reyna Lucero even took the mound, LAHS was ahead 4-0. Alicia Gonzales led off the game with a line-drive single, and advanced to third base on throwing errors. After Lauren Harris and Katie Wimer drew walks, the bases were loaded for senior catcher Jayde Tucker. 

She smashed a single into left field, putting LAHS on top 1-0. Jordan Jaramillo followed with a single of her own to score 2 more runs, and Clarie Bluhm drove in the fourth run with a sacrifice fly into left field. 

After Lucero pitched a scoreless bottom of the first inning, LAHS added another run in the second inning, as Terri Jaramillo led off the inning with a single and scored on an error by the catcher, giving the Hilltoppers a 5-0 lead. 

From that point forward, though, things didn’t go well for LAHS. 

In the third inning, Aztec’s batters became aggressive against Lucero, scoring 4 runs on four hits and taking advantage of sloppy defense by the Hilltoppers, cutting the LAHS lead to 5-4. 

The lead evaporated in the fourth inning, as the Tigers again struck for 4 runs to take an 8-5 lead, seemingly turning the momentum. 

One of the biggest moments of the game came in the top of the fifth inning, Jordan Jaramillo led off the inning with a single. Bluhn, the next batter, appeared to smash an extra-base hit down the left field line on the next pitch, as the ball sailed over third base and landed on the foul line. 

However, the home plate umpire called the ball foul, costing the Hilltoppers a run, much to the chagrin of the Hilltopper fans and Burditt, who was coaching third base. 

“I think that broke our back,” Burditt said. 

Despite Burditt’s urging to keep fighting through the adversity, it was downhill from there, as the defense made countless mistakes leading to extra bases and runs for Aztec. 

Officially, LAHS was charged with five errors. 

It was especially costly in the sixth inning, as Aztec scored 5 runs, stretching the lead to 14-5 and putting the game out of reach for the Hilltoppers. 

Despite a 2-run rally in the seventh inning, the Hilltoppers lost 14-7 and saw the season end in the first round of the state playoffs for the fifth year in a row. 

“Each year, we are getting better and better showing up here, getting here,” Burditt said. “We will get better.“

He added that he is proud of the team for its 18-9 record, and for the fight the girls showed during an 11-game win streak to end the regular season. 

“The girls did well, and I’m so proud of them,” Burditt said.