Softball: LA takes two against Taos

-A A +A
By Mike Cote

The runs are continuing to come in for the Los Alamos Hilltopper softball team.

The big question for the squad, however, is whether the runs will continue at least through Wednesday.

Los Alamos took both ends of a big District 2AAAA doubleheader against a Taos squad that has been something of a pest in recent years. Even in Saturday’s two wins, Taos would never quite go away.

In Saturday’s doubleheader at Overlook Park, the Hilltoppers won the opener 14-5, then came back in the bottom of the sixth to beat the Tigers 11-10 and score the three-game season sweep. The ‘Toppers won the teams’ first meeting April 10 in Taos, 20-12.

With the wins, Los Alamos stays within striking distance of the front-running Española Valley Sundevils. Los Alamos improved its District 2AAAA mark to 5-2 — 11-10 overall, the first time the Hilltoppers have broken the .500 mark this season — a game and a half behind the Sundevils, who are 6-0 in district.

“I feel real good about where we’re sitting,” Hilltopper manager Randy Burditt said. “We’re still in the hunt. But if Taos continues to play ball the way they have been, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they beat Española Valley.”

Even if the ‘Toppers win Wednesday at home against the Sundevils, they would still need help as the Sundevils will still own the tiebreaker with two wins. The Sundevils blanked the ‘Toppers in both ends of a doubleheader April 12 at Española Valley.

In Saturday’s game one, Steph Abney pitched around some trouble in the middle innings while her offense gave her plenty of run support.

Abney, who threw and won a complete game against Bernalillo Wednesday, said she felt fine throughout game one, dealing mostly fastballs in different spots.

“I was just trying to move the ball around,” she said. “I wanted to keep it low so they didn’t hit (fly balls).”

The Hilltopper defense was solid behind Abney, turning a pair of double plays in the first game, including a catch and throw out by center fielder Brianna Radosevich.

Radosevich dove for a dying fly ball, grabbing it just on top of the grass, then threw out Taos’ Oneta Thomas, who took off running from second, thinking the ball had hit the ground.

“She’s amazing,” Abney said of Radosevich. “Those little plays brighten the whole team up.”

Game one was nip-and-tuck early, until the Hilltoppers scored seven times in the bottom of the third, taking full advantage of four Taos errors, the most costly was an error in left field on Megan Burditt’s RBI single, during which two other runs scored.

Burditt had a monster day offensively for Los Alamos, going 4-for-5 in the first game with a triple, four RBI and three runs scored. In the second game, Burditt went 3-for-4 and scored three times.

Following the big third inning, which gave Los Alamos an 8-0 advantage, Taos threatened to get right back into the game, scoring three quick runs on two hits, two walks and two errors just before Radosevich’s double play. Abney fanned Taos lead-off hitter Andrea Medina to end the inning and avoid further damage.

Burditt knocked in three runs in the bottom of the fourth, tripling over the head of drawn-in left fielder Maddie Dearing with the bases loaded. Taos picked up single tallies in the fifth and sixth, but wouldn’t mount any serious threat after the third.

Abney gave up eight hits and struck out three in game one.

Radosevich started game two for the Hilltoppers, but struggled with her control through 4-plus innings of work before ace Ashley Merhege came on in relief. Radosevich walked seven batters and Taos managed to drive in eight runs to take an 8-7 lead after four innings.

But a three-run sixth, in which Merhege drove in the go-ahead run, ended up being the difference. Radosevich, who was 3-for-5 with two runs scored in the game, drove in a pair of runs in the sixth to tie the score.

The wins leapfrogged the Hilltoppers over the Tigers (5-15, 4-4 in district) in the 2AAAA standings. The Tigers had a half-game edge of the ‘Toppers going into Saturday’s twinbill.