BLOOMFIELD – The District 1-4A softball title again resides in Bloomfield.
The Lady Bobcats wrapped up their fourth straight district title, and fourth straight season without a loss in district play, beating Kirtland Central 8-6 and 11-1 Thursday at the Bloomfield Softball Complex.
“The girls have come a long way,” Bloomfield head coach Andi Clark said. “They’re jelling right now. It was a good day.”
After mistakes plagued the Lady Bobcats in the top of the seventh inning, allowing KC to take a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the inning, Bloomfield battled back, and Mattie Waresback walked off with a two-out, three-run home run to center field for the 8-6 win.
“Mattie has been inconsistent at the plate, and I grabbed her and said, ‘Do you remember the other day when you were batting and you hit it to the fence? Do that now,’” Clark said. “She came through for us. The message was that we couldn’t lose like this, and she came through for us.”
Bloomfield got RBIs from Kristin Espinosa and Bella DeHerrera in the bottom of the seventh before Waresback’s blast.
The Lady Broncos (17-9, 8-2) started hot in the first inning of the first game, taking a 2-0 lead with Dominique McGilbert hitting a solo home run to spark KC’s offense.
Bloomfield (19-6, 10-0) took a 3-2 lead in the third, which lasted until the seventh inning.
Things took a dark turn for KC in the bottom of the fourth.
On a foul ball down the first-base line, catcher Nikki Begay and first baseman Jaelyn Clichee collided while trying to make the catch. The collision saw Begay try to make a sliding catch and Clichee’s knee connecting with Begay’s right shoulder.
Clichee got off of the turf after a brief moment, but Begay remained down, her screams of pain audible as the ballpark fell silent. After a couple of minutes on the turf, Begay was helped off of the field, keeping her right arm immobile. She didn’t return to action the rest of the day. KC head coach Cody Gilmore said he’s not sure on the severity of Begay’s injury or how much time she might miss.
The Lady Broncos scored four runs in the seventh after some great base running to take advantage of multiple Bloomfield errors.
With the bases loaded, Nia Nelson scored on a throwing error. Then, two batters later, eighth-grader Kristine Paul, who replaced Begay in the lineup, hit a sacrifice fly to deep center. Madison Love tagged at third and was safe at the plate when the ball rolled past the catcher and reached the backstop. With the ball behind the plate, Tiana Aspaas came around to score when the throw back to the plate was off target and rolled to the pitcher’s circle. That mishap then allowed McGilbert to score for the third run of the play.
“Getting thrown into the fire like that, basically for the district championship, I think she handled it with great maturity,” Gilmore said of Paul. “She came in and did what she was supposed to do.”
The Lady Broncos took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the inning, setting up Bloomfield’s comeback.
The Lady Broncos used the momentum from the first game to jump to a 7-1 lead after the first inning of the second game.
“The way they took it from us, and how much energy we exerted in the first game, we just couldn’t find it in the second game,” Gilmore said.
DeHerrera and Waresback finished the day with four RBIs each.
Both Bloomfield and KC now wait to learn their seeds for the 4A state tournament. The tournament bracket will be revealed on Sunday.
Shiprock 8, Wingate 7
Shiprock 11, Wingate 1
Shiprock (12-12, 6-4) closed out its regular season with a pair of wins, fighting off Wingate (13-13, 4-6) 8-7 before blowing out the Lady Bears 11-1 during a doubleheader Thursday in Gallup.
Shiprock head coach Levi Toledo said the Lady Chieftains carried the momentum from the first game into the second game to pick up the lopsided win.
Shelbie Little earned the win in the circle for the first game, pitching all seven innings.
Meah Begay got the win in game two, going five innings.
Shiprock waits to learn its fate for the state tournament, and Toledo said he is pleased with how far the Lady Chiefs have come this season.
“I’m proud of the way they’re playing together more,” Toledo said. “They’ve taken their weakness and what they needed to work on, and now they know what they need to do.”
Navajo Prep 19, Tohatchi 2
Navajo Prep 19, Tohatchi 0
Freshman Mary Smith blasted two three-run home runs, and Navajo Prep (13-5, 4-0 District 1-A/3A) crushed Tohatchi (12-9, 1-3) for 19-2 and 19-0 victories Thursday on the road.
“She was hot today. We had production up and down the lineup, but she was our major producer,” Prep head coach Bryan Heaston said of Smith. “We had girls who were 2 for 4 and 3 for 4. It was a good day for us.”
Tisharae Tsosie got the win in both games. In the second game, the junior struck out nine batters in three innings and gave up one hit.
“She was using her changeup well and setting her fastball up with her changeup," Heaston said. "I couldn’t ask for anything more from her. She’s learning how to pitch and using her head in certain situations, figuring out what batters are trying to do, and she’s spinning the ball very, very well, too.”
Prep will host Rehoboth Christian (17-3, 2-0) on Tuesday.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.