Los Lunas eliminated in back-to-back state losses

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It didn’t take long on Friday for No. 3-seed Los Lunas to see the end of the end of the hope-filled softball season on Friday.

The Los Lunas High softball team split its two games Thursday at the Class 4A state tournament at Cleveland High, and on Friday were eliminated with a 3-2 loss to Atrisco Heritage Academy.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas shortstop Jackie Jiron awaits a throw as Alexandra Moreno of Piedra Vista slides into second base Thursday. The Lady Tigers beat Los Alamos and lost to Piedra Vista on Thursday, and on Friday, lost to Atrisco Heritage Academy, 3-2.

Los Lunas finished the season with a 25-4 record, including a perfect run through the District 6-4A campaign at 10-0.

But it was an early exit, really, for the one of the top seeds after falling to No. 2-seed Piedra Vista on Thursday, 5-2. The Tigers opened the double-elimination portion of the state tourney with a 10-0 win over Los Alamos.

The Tigers were not the only team to be upset in the tournament. Top-seed Artesia found themselves in the loser’s bracket with a 3-1 loss to No. 4 Aztec on Thursday.

Without a single senior on the roster, the Tigers will be one of the favorites next year for the state softball trophy in Class 4A.

Junior pitcher D’Ana Gabaldon pitched every game for the Tigers, posting a 25-4 record.

“We had a great season and the girls never gave up, ” said Los Lunas coach Paul Cieremans. “But these are big games and you only have to miss a few plays to come up short.”

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas Third baseman Alli Mardid throws across the diamond during the Class 4A state playoffs on Thursday.

Los Lunas 10, Los Alamos 0

In Thursday’s first game, the No. 3 seeded Tigers rolled to a surprisingly easy win Thursday morning against No. 6 Los Alamos, which struggled defensively.

The Hilltoppers (20-8) made three errors, two of which came in the Tigers’ six-run fourth inning, and D’Ana Gabaldon was dominant for LLHS both in pitching and in hitting.

Gabaldon allowed the ‘Toppers’ leadoff batter to reach base four times, yet got out of each inning to preserve the shutout. She also went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and four RBI, including a huge three-run double in the fourth inning.

Gabaldon broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third. Analeise Medeiros reached on an error, was sacrificed to second base by Samantha Lucero, and came home on a Gabaldon double.

The Tigers only needed one hit in their six-run outburst in the fourth, and sent 10 batters to the plate in that frame.

Los Lunas added two more runs in the sixth, aided by a wild pitch and hits by Gabaldon and Jacklynn Sanchez. Cienna Thompson singled and later scored on a Lucero hit in the seventh.

Piedra Vista 5, Los Lunas 2

In a rematch of a 2011 state tourney game won 3-2 by the Panthers, Los Lunas played well Thursday and Gabaldon pitched courageously, but a few defensive mistakes made the difference.

The Panthers (21-7) scored two runs in the second inning and three more in the fifth, with a Tigers error in each frame. Los Lunas appeared to commit three total errors in the contest, though the scoreboard showed only two.

Gabaldon only gave up five hits and one walk in the contest. Each team had five hits.

The Tigers only struck out twice against Panther pitcher Krissi Fortner, but hit a number of pop-ups and easy ground balls.

Medeiros ended a string of 12 straight Tigers that Fortner had retired when she singled to lead off the top of the sixth. Later in the inning, Sanchez doubled to the wall in right center field, scoring Lucero and courtesy runner Jerrica Chavez with the Tigers’ only runs of the game.

Atrisco Heritage 3, Los Lunas 2

Friday morning, the Tigers struggled both in getting hits and on defense and were eliminated by falling to the No. 5 seed Jaguars (21-8).

In the top of the first inning, hits by Gabaldon and Sanchez and a two-run single by Mykayla Moody accounted for what would be the only two Tiger runs of the game.

Atrisco pitcher Rehanna Little then retired the next 19 Tiger batters to finish the contest with the win, despite recording no strike outs.

Gabaldon, the Tiger ace, only gave up four hits, but three errors behind her didn’t help the Tiger cause.

Two of the errors came with two outs and led to all three of the Atrisco runs.

“They made the plays and we didn’t,” said Cieremans. “We were swinging at good pitches. We just weren’t getting hits.”


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.