FARMINGTON — With the ultimate prize being the Connie Mack World Series, both the Pack and Naa'taanii are trying to take advantage of the three weeks remaining in league play before the City Tournament crowns this year's host.
Naa'taanii won Tuesday's game at Ricketts Park 13-3 via the run-rule after five innings, and both squads now know what they hope to improve on in the remainder of the season.
Naa'taanii skipper Dineh Benally wants to see his squad maintain the aggressive play that lit up the scoreboard for all 13 of the team's runs in the first two innings.
"I think right now we just need to stay focused mentally throughout the whole game and not let up," Benally said after the win. "It's early for the team, and they're just getting to know each other, but I'm confident that when the City Tournament comes around we'll be sharp and more determined to finish the games early."
Pack coach Lance Aspaas said the biggest thing his team needs to do is get out of the slump that has plague the Pack through the first half of league play.
"We just couldn't get the sticks going. You can't do much if you don't hit the ball and you can't score runs," Aspaas said. "This is league play, but when it counts is the City Tournament. If we cut back on the errors and hit the ball and put runs on the board we'll be good."
It was a combination of cold bats and great pitching from Naa'taanii's Devin Ortiz, who held the Pack hitless through the game's first four innings, that kept the Pack from challenging one of the league's top teams.
Had the Pack's bats been livelier, it would have still been a tall task to overcome, considering Naa'taanii posted eight runs in the top of the first inning and followed it with another five runs in the second.
"You take those first two innings away, and we're still in the game," Aspaas said. "Our pitching struggled a bit the first two innings. We had, I think, four hit batters and maybe seven or eight walks. They capitalized on those, and that's what killed us. If we can cut down on those, or take those away, we're in the game."
After the second inning, the Pack only allowed one hit and gave up no free bases on walks, hit batters or errors.
Moving forward, both Naa'taanii and the Pack will play in this weekend's first Ricketts Park Wood Bats Classic.
The tournament will provide a strong field of teams, which include squads from Tucson, Ariz., San Diego and Denver. And both coaches are looking at the tournament as more practice leading up to July's City Tournament.
"We'll be playing in the tournament this weekend, and all we want to get out of this tournament is to be able to compete and get the reps in to be ready for the City Tournament," Aspaas said. "Everything is leading up to that City Tournament, so that's the time that we need to be ready."