RIO RANCHO — The eight-time defending champion Piedra Vista softball team looked as dominant as ever as it opened the 4A state tournament.
The No. 1 Lady Panthers swept through their two games with ease, defeating No. 8 St. Pius X 18-3 and No. 5 Valencia 11-1 on Thursday in Rio Rancho to move one win away from the title game.
"We're seeing the ball really well right now," PV head coach Kevin Werth said. "These kids just amaze me. They just continue to show people that they're PV softball. Everybody is contributing right now."
Megan Risner pitched two complete games to get both victories in the circle for PV.
"She threw two phenomenal games," Werth said.
St. Pius hung around until the fifth inning when the Lady Panthers scored five runs to open up a 7-2 lead.
"The first one is always tough, no matter who you're playing," Werth said. "Everybody has those first-game jitters at state."
That opened the flood gates for the PV offense as it scored five runs in the sixth and six more in the seventh to finish up the blowout win.
The offensive momentum carried over into the second game of the day against Valencia.
PV scored in all five innings on its way to a run-rule victory against the Lady Jaguars.
The Lady Panthers will play No. 7 Bernalillo today at the University of New Mexico softball field for a spot in the title game.
The Lady Spartans upset No. 2 Aztec and No. 3 Centennial to reach the matchup with PV.
"The kid they're throwing is legit," Werth said. "They've earned the right to be in that game."
The game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Aztec had a rough start to its state tournament as it dropped its opening game 3-2 to Bernalillo.
"We just struggled swinging a bat today," Aztec head coach Jose Santistevan said.
The Lady Tigers staved off elimination in their second game, surviving a 2-0 pitchers' duel against No. 11 Goddard.
Freshman Paige Adair pitched the shutout against the Lady Rockets to keep Aztec in the tournament.
Adair also went 3-for-3 from the plate in the loss to Bernalillo.
Aztec will need to win three games today to advance to the title game. The first is against Valencia. That game is scheduled for 11 a.m. at UNM.
"There's nobody in our way that we can't beat. We have Valencia first, and we've beaten them three times," Santistevan said. "Then it's either St. Pius or Centennial, and we've beaten them. It's doable. We're not going to give up."