Softball: Weather puts damper on tourney

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By Mike Cote

FARMINGTON – In the opening day of the 2008 state championship softball playoffs, the most dramatic thing might have been the weather.

Skies were drippy throughout the day at Ricketts Field and New Mexico Activities Association officials tried to squeeze in as many games as possible between showers.

And although the weather got so bad at one point that there was talk that the double-elimination brackets might turn into single-elimination brackets due to the rains, the tournament was spared, but will have to be condensed down considerably.

The start of Los Alamos’ game against Aztec Thursday was delayed for more than 90 minutes due to off-and-on rains – local forecasts were calling for a 30-percent chance of rain throughout the day – and lightning strikes within two miles of Ricketts Field that started about 40 minutes before the game’s first pitch was scheduled.

With just one out recorded in the top of the first, Los Alamos and Aztec were ordered off the field by the umpiring crew. The teams retook the diamond about 20 minutes later, but rain of varying strength dropped from start to finish.

At the conclusion of the first round contest, won 12-0 by Aztec, Hilltopper manager Randy Burditt ran off to a downtown Farmington hotel for an emergency manager’s meeting to find out whether his team would be finished or live to play another game.

Before the announcement was made that the double-elimination format would be spared, the Hilltoppers were less-than-optimistic about the meeting’s possible outcomes.

“I wish the state tournament was in Las Cruces this year,” Hilltopper shortstop Megan Burditt said after the game, which would’ve been the finale of her prep career had the loser’s bracket been washed out.

Instead, tournament officials came up with a schedule that would allow the tournament to continue.

Because afternoon contests at the Complex Fields, the other tournament site located on the western edge of Farmington, were postponed, the Complex received considerably heavier rainfall than did Ricketts – those first round contests were scheduled to be played late Friday. Española Valley, which finished ahead of Los Alamos in the District 2AAAA standings, was involved in one of the afternoon postponements.

The first-round losers would then have to play as many as four games today. Los Alamos was scheduled to play at 8 a.m. today and if it won, could play again as early as 10 a.m.

Teams losing in the first round would have to play nine total games to bounce back and get to Saturday’s Class AAAA championship game.

“High school teams are not set up to do that,” coach Burditt said. “If a team does it, my hat’s off to them, but I don’t see it happening.”