Eagles gain experience at Carlsbad

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It was a tough weekend at the Carlsbad Cavegirl Invitational for the Belen softball girls. The Lady Eagles dropped four games against mostly Class 5A competition to see their season mark fall to 6-5.

"This is what we have to do to become better," said Belen coach Ray Valerio. "These teams are so good. It showed us a different level of the game. We know now what we need to do in order to be a better team."

Belen started the tournament with a 22-0 loss to Artesia on Friday, before facing host Carlsbad Friday night.

The Eagles lost 10-0 to the defending Class 5A state champions before losing 12-2 to Mayfield and 15-0 to Las Cruces on Saturday.

Belen was set to face Moriarty on Tuesday in a game that started after News-Bulletin press time. The Lady Eagles are scheduled to visit Del Norte at 4 p.m. on Thursday before facing Sandia Prep at home at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Mayfield 12, Belen 2

This was the one game of the tournament that Valerio thought the inexperienced Belen team might be competitive in.

Only down 5-2 going into the sixth inning, Belen was in the game. But Mayfield got seven runs in the bottom of the inning to pull out a mercy-rule win by 10 runs.

Valerio noted that Gonzales possibly pitched one of her best games against the Class 5A Trojans.

"As the tournament went on she did a better job," Valerio said of his pitcher. "Those girls can hit, all of them. They flat out hit the ball. We tried to keep them off balance."

The Eagles could have been a little closer in the early part of the game. A misplayed ball led to two runs in the bottom of the first. Mayfield led 3-0.

The Trojans added two runs in the fifth, before Belen scored a couple in the top of the sixth.

Agusta Amaro and Mariah Armijo both scored in the frame, while Alex Baca drove in one of the runs.

"I thought we showed that we competed very well," said Valerio of the Mayfield game.

Las Cruces 15, Belen 0

In the early morning Saturday game, the Bulldogs showed why they were the top team in the tournament.

With seven runs in the opening frame, Class 5A Las Cruses was able to add five in the third and three more in the fourth to get the 15-0 mercy-rule win.

"We just weren't ready to play," said Valerio of the Saturday morning contest.

Carlsbad 10, Belen 0

Even though the host Class 5A Cavegirls got a 10-run win, Valerio was very positive after the loss to the highly regarded 5A club.

"We played the most solid game here against a great club," said Valerio. "We showed drive and enthusiasm. We played our best game."

Defensively, Belen only had one error and only gave up singles to the Carlsbad line-up.

But the Eagles could not get past the pitching of Kyliegh Yerby in the circle. The junior only allowed two hits and retired all but one out on strikes.

"She was lights out," said Valerio of the Carlsbad pitcher, Yerby, who struck out 14 Belen batters.

"That was Emma's best performance of the whole tournament," said Valerio of Gonzales, who struck out three Cavegirls.

Artesia 20, Belen 0

A 10-run second inning did in the Eagles against one of the top Class 4A teams in the state. The game only lasted three innings as Artesia built a 20-run lead.

"The girls went into that game scared," said Valerio. "The whole thing about the tournament was that we were overmatched the whole time."

Belen only got three hits. Arena Lewis, Emma Gonzales and Virginia Gonzales all got singles.

"It was a tough learning experience for us," said Valerio. "The girls understand now what level of ball we have to be at if we want to be outstanding."


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