Enchantment to play for softball title, other county L.L. teams represent well

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The Enchantment Minor All-Stars posted a dramatic late-inning comeback to defeat Westgate 5-2 in the District 9 Little League Softball Tournament Tuesday night and force a deciding game Wednesday night for the district championship and a berth at next week’s State Minor division tournament.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: TYRA TRUMBLE, left, of Enchantment Little League’s Major All-Stars swings big and misses against the Yucca All-Stars Friday in the District 9 Little League Softball Tournament in Albuquerque.

Wednesday night’s deciding game started after the News-Bulletin’s deadline. Coverage of Wednesday night’s deciding game as well as Tuesday night’s victory will be posted online Thursday at www.News-Bulletin.com and will also be included in the paper’s July 11 edition.

On Tuesday, Enchantment was held scoreless for three innings before taking advantage of walks issued by Westgate ace pitcher Alyssa McCursten to tie the game. In the deciding fifth inning, Aleksandra Sanchez reached base on an error then scored the winning run off an Alexandra Tenorio single.

“I told the girls to fight hard,” said Enchantment manager Gabe Sanchez. “I told them ‘Keep high spirits and play hard.’ Kendall (Ostler), she did real well for us today (pitching). Now we’ll come back and see what we can do.”

Enchantment’s dramatic victory to set up the second championship game in the double-elimination tournament at Westgate Little League in Albuquerque was preceded by a pair of epic battles with county rival Belen Little League.

The two teams faced each other in the opening game of the tournament, a tight defensive match up won by Enchantment 5-3 on Saturday morning.

Faced with elimination on Sunday, Belen bounced back, beating South Valley 12-2 in a mercy-rule shortened four-inning game as starting pitcher Jaycie Gandert and the Belen defense allowed only two runs in the first inning.

“We just didn’t have the bats swinging (on Saturday),” Belen manager Dave Castillo said. “I tell the girls all the time it’s pitching and hitting. We got the bats swinging today and we didn’t walk many girls like we did (against Enchantment).”

After their win over the Belen All-Stars, Enchantment was pummeled by Westgate on Saturday morning, falling out of the winner’s bracket with a 9-3 loss to set up a rematch Monday night against Belen.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: PLAYERS AND COACHES from Enchantment Little League and Belen Little League Minor All-Stars congratulate each other after the two teams’ game on Monday afternoon. Enchantment won 13-10 to advance in the District 9 softball tournament.

On Monday night, the two teams went back and forth like a Hollywood heavyweight match. Belen jumped on Enchantment pitcher Tenorio early to build a 5-2 first inning lead. But Enchantment countered and Belen led just 8-6 going into the third inning.

Belen pushed to their biggest lead in the third inning at 10-8 But Enchantment’s defense shut Belen down the rest of the way while their offense got some breaks against Belen starter Lauren Klimkowski. Enchantment took advantage of seven walks in the bottom of the sixth inning to score six runs and take the game.

“It was a good game, Belen hung in there,” Sanchez said. “It’s kind of rough to take a team out from our county, but only one team can win.”

Klimkowski was a big part of Belen’s tournament success, getting on base in all but one at bat, said Castillo.

Makalya Martinez also batted above .400 for the tournament, Castillo said and Belen’s pitchers — Martinez, Klimkowski, Gandert and Rose Castillo — were keys to the team’s success.