Walk-off win advances Kirtland Central at state
Piedra Vista uses seven-run third inning to knock off Lady Wildcats
- Lady Broncos advance to state quarterfinals for first time since 2008
- Piedra Vista racked up 13 hits en route to 12-2 win
KIRTLAND – An offensive explosion in the bottom of the seventh inning saved a Kirtland Central softball team that looked well on its way to a first-round exit from the 4A state tournament.
The eighth-seeded Lady Broncos rallied from a two-run deficit with four straight hits and three runs in the seventh — including a walk-off RBI double from Andrea Weaver — to lift KC to a 4-2 win over No. 9 West Las Vegas on Saturday at Kirtland Central High School.
KC (18-9) didn't hold a lead in the game until Moriah Toledo crossed home plate with the game-winning run. The Lady Broncos went ice cold from the plate from the end of the third inning until the seventh, recording just one hit against nine outs. But they heated up when it mattered.
"I told the girls, and we've lived by it, we have it on the back of our shirts today — 'Find a way to win,'" KC coach Cody Gilmore said. "It was ugly at times, but we found a way. I mean, that's what we've been living by all year."
The Lady Dons (10-14) jumped all over KC starting pitcher Shiloh Lewis in the first inning for three runs. A lot of the damage was done by WLV cleanup hitter Jazmine Sanchez, who ripped a two RBI, inside-the-park home run.
Over the next six innings, Lewis, who completed the game, gave up just one RBI single and managed to retire the final 11 batters WLV sent to the plate. Gilmore said Lewis' settling down was more mental than mechanical.
"I really think it was first-inning jitters. It was a big game," Gilmore said. "She settled in and looked confident. That's what you live for is those type of ballgames out there."
Until the big seventh inning, KC's offense struggled to come through with runners on base, stranding six on the day. But the Lady Bronco bats showed up out of nowhere when it mattered most, starting with a leadoff single from Tiana Aspaas, followed by three straight doubles off the bats of Dominique McGilbert, Toledo and Weaver.
Gilmore credited Aspaas — who was 0-3 with a strikeout before starting the game-winning rally — with getting the team going during crunch time.
"I told Tiana, I said 'Find a way on.' She had a rough day at the plate, but she figured a way to shake it off," Gilmore said.
Lewis reached base in all three of her at-bats with a walk, two doubles and an RBI.
It doesn't get easier for Kirtland Central, which plays No. 1 Robertson in the next round. That game is scheduled for noon Wednesday at the Rio Rancho Softball Complex.
Piedra Vista 12, Lovington 2
The Piedra Vista softball team needed a couple of innings to get going, but once the Lady Panthers saw Lovington’s pitcher a couple times, they routed the Lady Wildcats.
Leading 2-1 after two and a half innings, the fourth-seeded Lady Panthers (18-8) piled up seven runs in the third inning to blow the game open before winning 12-2 in the first round of the 5A state tournament on a cool and dreary Saturday at the Farmington Sports Complex.
“I was pleased with the way we played. It’s certainly been frustrating having to play in this weather all year, but that’s stuff we can’t control. Once we settled in and made some adjustments at the plate, we squared a lot of balls up. Overall, it was a good day. We did what we had to do, and we’re moving on.”
No. 13 Lovington (11-16) got to PV pitcher Aleja Armenta early, recording two hits for one run in the top of the first inning, but after the senior hurler got into a groove, the Lady Wildcats found little success against her.
“They squared a few balls up on Aleja, and she left a few balls up in the zone, but once she got it down, they had trouble hitting her,” Werth said. “Ananda (Delegarito) came in for the fifth and closed it, and I think she had a five-pitch inning. I was pleased with the way (Armenta and Delegarito) threw, and we’re going to need that to make a little run at state.”
PV will face No. 5 Los Lunas (17-10) in the quarterfinals at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Cleveland Softball Complex in Rio Rancho.
Heading into the Los Lunas game, Werth said PV will continue to focus on the fundamentals.
“We’re not going to change anything now,” he said. “We know what Los Lunas is going to try to do, but we want to stick to the focus of playing the ball — hit it hard on offense and play catch with it on defense.”
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.