State baseball and softball tournament action begins Friday

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The 2022 New Mexico Activities Association baseball and softball tournaments get underway this weekend, with several area and local teams hitting the road to escape the first round.

Both the Aztec High School baseball and softball teams will open the postseason at home as they begin play in the Class 4A tournaments.

Here's a glance at some of this weekend's opening round action.

Baseball

Class 5A — Farmington (18-7) at Rio Grande (19-5)

The eighth-seeded Ravens will host Farmington in a best-of-3 first round series beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Rio Grande High School. Game two of the series will take place Saturday at 11 a.m., with a third game (if necessary) scheduled at 1 p.m.

This is the second meeting of the season for the two schools, who met last month at Rio Grande High School with the Ravens winning by a score of 12-3.

Marcus Sanchez, Kevin Najar and Jose Galindo lead the Ravens offensive attack, while Sebastian Chavez has a big impact on the Ravens success from the mound.

Class 5A — Piedra Vista (14-12) at La Cueva (20-4)

The La Cueva Bears, seeded third overall in the Class 5A state baseball tournament, will host Piedra Vista for a best-of-3 series starting Friday at 4 p.m. Games two and (if necessary) three will be played Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.

Friday's opening game of the series will be the third meeting between the District 2-5A rivals. La Cueva scored 28 combined runs in a doubleheader sweep on April 9 at La Cueva High School.

The Class 5A defending state champions, La Cueva has won 63 games and lost only 14 since the start of the 2019 season and have won 11 state titles, including three over the last five years.

Class 4A — Hope Christian (15-11) at Aztec (19-7) 

The fifth-seeded Aztec High School baseball team will open the best-of-3 first round series Friday at home against the 12th-seeded Hope Christian Huskies. Game one of the series starts at 7 p.m., with games two and (if necessary) three to be played Saturday starting at 1 p.m.

This is the second meeting between the two schools this season, who met on March 26 when the Tigers earned a walk-off win thanks to a Brandon Arellano walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning that gave Aztec a 5-4 victory.

Hope Christian is led at the plate by sophomore Alex Bradbury, with a .342 batting average and 25 runs batted in, along with sophomore Brandon Chavez, with a .361 batting average and 21 runs scored.

Bloomfield High School's D.J. Maes warms up on the mound between innings in a game at home against Aztec, Thursday, April 21, 2022.

On the mound, the Huskies are led by Joe Marek and Jacob Jergen, who have combined for nine wins on the season and more than 150 strikeouts.

Class 4A — Bloomfield (14-11) at Grants (18-8)

The 13th seeded Bloomfield High School baseball team will hit the road for a best-of-3 first round series against the Grants Pirates with the first game scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. Game two of the series will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. and a third game (if necessary) is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.

The fourth-seeded Pirates outscored Bloomfield by final scores of 11-7 and 14-3 in a doubleheader at Bloomfield on April 2. Nick Bustos, one of the leading pitchers on the team, earned one of his seven wins on the season that day, striking out six Bobcat hitters.

Gabriel Marquez and Tyler Everhart each drove in five runs over the course of the doubleheader sweep, while Dominick Gonzales leads the team with a batting average of .511 and 28 runs batted in.

Class 4A — Kirtland Central (13-12) at Albuquerque Academy (22-4)

The defending Class 4A state champion Albuquerque Academy baseball team continues their quest for a second straight championship Friday at 4:30 p.m. when they host a best-of-3 first round series at home against Kirtland Central.

Game two of the series will take place Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and a third game (if necessary) is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

The Chargers, who beat St. Pius X by a score of 8-7 to win the title last year, are led at the plate by senior Devan Johnson, with 16 extra-base hits and a batting average of .467. The recent commit to the University of Chicago was the hero of last year's title game with a bases-clearing double in the bottom of the seventh which lifted Albuquerque Academy to the come-from-behind victory. 

Dominic Baca also has been a strong contributor for the Chargers this season, leading the team with 38 runs batted in.

Caleb Lasher and Andrew Harrod have combined for 12 wins this season for the Chargers and nearly 100 strikeouts. 

Class 3A — Navajo Prep (12-13) at Raton (8-13)

The Navajo Prep baseball team will put their 10-game win streak on the line this weekend when they visit Raton for the first game of a best-of-3 series Friday at 7 p.m.

The second game of the series will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. with a third game (if necessary) scheduled for 1 p.m.

Undefeated in District 1-3A, the Eagles will face a strong test in Raton, led by Matthew Quartieri and Dylan Quartieri, who have combined for 41 RBI's and 17 extra-base hits this season.

Chance Middlebrook has been one of the Tigers leaders on the hill this season, with 29 strikeouts and four wins to go along with four losses.

Softball

Class 5A — Piedra Vista (17-9) at Mayfield (18-8)

The ninth-seeded Piedra Vista softball team faces an elimination game Saturday at 11 a.m. on the road Friday against eighth-seeded Mayfield 

The Panthers, who finished second in District 2-5A will face a Trojans lineup headlined by senior Jordan Rivera, with a .561 batting average and 19 extra-base hits. Rivera has also been solid from inside the circle, winning 12 games and posting more than 155 strikeouts on the season.

Mayfield is also led by sophomore Morgan Martinez, with nine home runs on the season, and junior Jaclyn Morales with a batting average of .600 and 53 runs scored.

Class 5A — Farmington (18-8) at Cleveland (19-6)

The No. 11-seeded Farmington High softball team prepares for a second game this season against defending Class 5A state champion Cleveland on Friday at 6 p.m. 

The Storm, who come into the tournament seeded sixth, finished second in District 1-5A behind Rio Rancho while the Scorpions finished third in District 2-5A behind La Cueva and Piedra Vista.

The winner of the first round elimination game moves on to the quarterfinals against either third seeded Alamogordo or 14th-seeded Manzano.

Piedra Vista's Emma Lovato warms up between innings of a softball game against Bloomfield, Thursday, March 31, 2022 at the Farmington Sports Complex.

The Storm lost to Farmington 10-0 in tournament play on March 26 at Cleveland High School.

Class 4A — Belen (15-11) at Aztec (16-9)

The Aztec High School softball team will look to get back to their winning ways at home Saturday at 10 a.m. when they host Belen in a first-round elimination game at the Tiger Sports Complex.

Aztec, seeded seventh in the Class 4A tournament had won six straight before wrapping up the regular season last weekend with an 11-0 loss against District 1-4A rival Gallup.

Belen, 6-2 in District 5-4A and seeded 10th in the tournament, will feature a pair of offensive stars like Raylynn Masterman (eight home runs on the season) as well as Danae Chavira, with a .352 batting average and 14 extra-base hits.

In the circle, the Eagles are led by Lorissa Scott, with a record of 8-7 this season and a 0.38 earned run average.

The winner of this game will move on to the quarterfinals to face either Gallup or Miyamura.

Class 4A — Kirtland Central (14-11) at Artesia (20-5)

The top-ranked (Class 4A) Artesia High School softball team will host Kirtland Central in a play-in game Saturday at 10 a.m. with the winner moving on to the quarterfinals and a matchup against either Los Alamos or Valley.

The Bulldogs are led by Kayden Apodaca, with eight home runs and a .513 batting average, as well as Kadence Ray, with nine home runs and a .390 batting average.

Senior pitcher RyLee Crandall has 13 wins this season, with 172 strikeouts and a 0.65 earned run average.

Class 4A — Bloomfield (10-16) at Silver (20-6)

The Bloomfield High School softball team will face off against Silver for the second time this season in an elimination game Friday at 8 p.m. in the Class 4A state tournament.

The Fighting Colts won their previous meeting with the Bobcats by a final of 8-2 on April 2 and are led offensively by sophomore Larissa Rueda with 14 home runs and a .506 batting average as well as by senior Lisa Lucero, with 18 extra-base hits and a .540 batting average.

The Fighting Colts softball team are 12-time NMAA champions, the third-most successful program in the state.

Junior pitcher Makaylah Roybal has 13 wins this season to lead Silver, with 108 strikeouts and a 1.56 earned run average.

The winner of Friday's game will move on to the quarter finals and a quarterfinal matchup against either St. Pius X or Portales.

Class 3A

The Navajo Prep softball team, winners of District 1-3A with a record of 14-13 this season, will find out on Sunday about their first round opponent in the Class 3A state tournament when the NMAA announces seedings and schedules.

The Eagles finished the district campaign with a record of 9-1.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.