FARMINGTON — The 4A/5A North/South All-Star softball series began Friday as some of the best players in the state close out their high school careers.
San Juan County had seven representatives with players from Piedra Vista, Farmington and Aztec high schools competing for the North All-Stars, along with girls from Los Alamos, Volcano Vista, Eldorado, Cleveland, Bernalillo, Manzano and Albuquerque high schools.
4A state champions Piedra Vista led the way with four recent graduates -- Susie Chandler, Krissy Fortner, Alex Moreno and Jordan Montoya -- playing for the squad.
Moreno enjoyed closing out her season with her teammates by her side.
"It's awesome because we know each other. We know how we play, and we feel at home out there," Moreno said.
Aztec's Amber Linker and Jerrie Knight were selected after the Lady Tigers finished the year as state runner-up.
Knight liked teaming up with players she's competed against throughout her high school career.
"It's so much fun having us all play together like this," Knight said. "They were our competition all year and now that we're playing together, it's a blast."
Farmington High's catcher Cheyenne Cochran was the lone representative from the Lady Scorps, but was forced to sit the game out with a stress fracture in her ankle.
"It started giving me problem back in February," Cochran said of the injury. "I caught with it all during the state tournament, but after the season I went to the doctor and they put me in this cast. I was really looking forward to this game."
Despite being unable to play, Cochran was proud to represent FHS at the game.
"It's an honor, and it feels amazing to be out here with all of these girls," she said.
In Game 1 of the three-game series, the South scored six runs in the seventh inning to beat the North 7-6.
Both starting pitchers -- Fortner for the North and Carlsbad's Brianna Johnson for the South -- cruised through the first five innings, but each ran into trouble late in the game.
Albuquerque High's Jenay Hernandez hit a three-run home run off of Johnson for the North to give them a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
South replied with home runs by Alamogordo's Darian Murphy and Los Lunas' Mykayla Moody in the top of the seventh off of Fortner to take a 7-4 lead.
The North plated two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but fell short of tying the game when Albuquerque High's Jamie Guardiola popped out to the shortstop to end the game with the tying run at first base.
Fortner took the loss after allowing seven runs on 14 hits in seven innings while striking out seven South batters.
Fortner also went 4-for-4 at the plate with an RBI.
Linker was 2-for-3 for the North with a run and an RBI.
In Game 2, the North answered back to defeat the South 13-7.
The series will wrap up today with Game 3 at the Farmington Sports Complex at 10 a.m.
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@jperrysuu.