Prep keeps season alive with late rally
- Lady Eagles rally from 6-2 deficit to force extras then avoid collapse to win
- Prep's season continues Thursday at the A/3A state tournament
RIO RANCHO – The Navajo Prep softball team needed a little magic to keep its season alive at the A/3A state tournament held at the Rio Rancho Softball Complex.
The Lady Eagles opened the tournament as the No. 4 seed and met No. 13 Estancia in an 8 a.m. game Wednesday, edging out a 12-10 win in extra innings to advance to the quarterfinals, where they met apparently underseeded Tularosa and fell 12-2.
“You could look at all the excuses, but what defines a team is overcoming adversity. All we have to do is make adjustments from game to game,” Prep head coach Bryan Heaston said. “We ran into a good Tularosa team. They played really well and put the ball in play, and you can’t make mistakes at the state level. We were a little nervous and pressed a little too hard, but we’ll get there. We’re just making little mistakes here and there, but we’ll figure it out.”
Tularosa, seeded 12th in the tournament, opened the tourney with a 17-2 beating of No. 5 Rehoboth Christian before knocking off Prep.
Prep (16-16) started slowly against Estancia (10-15) and trailed 6-2 heading into the sixth inning.
Prep scored one run in the top of the sixth to make it 6-3. Then the Lady Eagles’ bats got hot in the seventh, driving in two quick runs before tying the game on an Estancia error.
In the bottom of the inning, Prep pitcher Tisharea Tsosie shut the Lady Bears down to force extras.
In the top of the eighth, Prep exploded for six runs to open a 12-6 lead, but almost blew the advantage, allowing four runs before the young Lady Eagles, who list just one senior, settled themselves for the win.
“We got a little nervous and tentative and almost let them back in it, but those are little things that are going to happen with young teams. The first game of the state tournament is always a tough one because it’s win or go home,” Heaston said.
Instead of riding the momentum from the win over Estancia into the Tularosa game, the Lady Eagles came out a bit flat. The Lady Wildcats (12-12) made them pay, taking a 6-1 first-inning lead.
Heaston said the pressure of playing in the state tourney atmosphere affected his team.
“I think the big atmosphere, the state playoffs with a lot of fans, got to them,” he said. “But they’re learning. I think right now they’re just trying to do too much. They just need to trust in their abilities and what got them here, and they’ll be fine.”
The loss to Tularosa drops the Lady Eagles into the losers bracket, where they’ll meet No. 8 Jemez Valley (19-2) at 8 a.m. today in an elimination game.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.