RIO RANCHO —The Kirtland Central softball team seems to find a new level when the state tournament rolls around.
The Lady Broncos made a deep run into the tourney last season, and this year they're poised to do the same after a pair of wins today at Cleveland High School.
"One of my most fun memories as a coach, even though it's been a short career so far, was the run we made last year," KC coach Cody Gilmore said. "I told the girls to come in here and shock people. We moved up in class, and no one respects us because we're moving up from 4A, but I told the girls that we're going to shock some people."
KC, the six seed in the 5A bracket, opened the day with a 14-3 beatdown of No. 11 Los Alamos, ending the Lady Hilltoppers' season.
The win over LA moved the Lady Broncos into the quarterfinals and the double-elimination portion of the tourney.
In the quarters, KC met No. 3 Roswell, which earned a bye out of the first round, and scraped by with a 2-0 upset.
The game with Roswell was heated from start to finish with players, coaches and fans getting chippy with each other through most of the game.
"It got heated. I was hot," Gilmore said. "But I told the girls not to do anything to retaliate. I wanted them to beat them on the scoreboard because that means more. If you retaliate and get thrown out of the game, it does nothing, but if you beat them on the scoreboard, no one can take that away."
Both of KC's runs came in the top of the fourth inning. And both came on Roswell mistakes.
Gilmore said the difference in the game was the Lady Broncos' ability to take advantage of Roswell's mistakes in the field. Both of KC's runs came after Roswell mistakes in the top of the fourth inning.
KC moves into the semifinals and will face No. 2 Artesia.
Bloomfield 5, Valencia 4, 8 innings
Bloomfield nearly let a win slip away in the quarterfinals, but the No. 4 Lady Bobcats survived for a 5-4 win over No. 5 Valencia.
Bloomfield was in control almost the entire game.
The Lady Bobcats scored two runs in the first and two runs in the second to take a 4-1 lead over the Lady Jaguars.
Valencia scored one run in the third.
Bloomfield led 4-2 with two outs in the top of the seventh when a couple of mishaps put runners on second and third for the Lady Jags. Valencia's Ashley Young then hit a double to drive in both runners, tying the game and sending the action into extra innings.
Still tied at 4 in the bottom of the eighth, Madison Mayo connected on a pitch for a walk-off RBI single.
"Madison kind of had a rough time in the top of the seventh, but she came through and saved the game. That's what counts," Bloomfield coach Freddy Perez said.
Bloomfield will play District 1-5A rival and No. 1 seed Aztec in the semifinals at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Aztec 21, Alamogordo 0
Aztec showed how dominant it can be in its quarterfinal matchup with Alamogordo, demolishing the No. 9 Lady Tigers 21-0 today at Cleveland High School.
After a modest four-run inning in the first, highlighted by a two-out three-RBI triple from Autumn Petersen, Aztec put up 15 runs in the second inning. In that inning, Aztec reached double-digit runs before Alamogordo recorded the first out of the inning.
Paige Adair got the win in the circle for Aztec, striking out seven batters in three innings.
The win moves Aztec into the semifinals, where the Lady Tigers will face District 1-5A rival and fourth-seeded Bloomfield at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Piedra Vista 13, Mayfield 11
Onate 4, Piedra Vista 3
Piedra Vista's bats were explosive in its first game of the 6A tournament, blasting Mayfield for 13 runs en route to a 13-11 victory.
No. 6 PV blew the game open in the first inning, scoring nine runs in the opening frame.
PV held a healthy lead the entire game, but in the bottom of the seventh, leading 13-6, the No. 11 Lady Panthers allowed the Lady Trojans to threaten with a five-run inning.
The win moved PV into the quarterfinals to challenge No. 3 Onate.
The Lady Knights took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth when PV started hitting.
Natalie Martin ripped a two-out pitch to drive in two runs, then Alyssa Herrod knocked in Martin with a single to shallow center field.
In the bottom of the seventh, PV had a chance to tie the game, but Jayden Lance was called out on a play at the plate to end the game at 4-3.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.