WEB EXCUSIVE: Valencia softball beats Los Lunas for league title

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TOME – To say the Valencia softball team earned its first-ever district title Tuesday night is not an understatement.

The Jaguars took an early lead but needed to score three runs late after visiting Los Lunas tied the game as VHS took a 6-3 win to sweep the Tigers in their season series and take the District 6-4A championship.

The Jaguars’ sophomore hurler Amber Baca struck out 12 and allowed only five hits and two earned runs in the win. Baca also helped herself and her team at the plate, driving in a pair of RBIs, including the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“The kids were focused from the get go,” said VHS coach Jeff Young. “They weren’t going to let a little adversity hold them back. We’ve been in a lot of close games, some were close loses and they paid off. The girls learned to play close games and not give up.”

The Jags took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as eighth-grader Alexis Vigil and sophomore Alisha Vigil started VHS’s at-bat with back-to-back home runs. Baca then singled to right field to bring in Erin Sharpe to give Valencia a 3-0 lead. Los Lunas’ Angela Duran slugged her own solo home run in the top of the fourth inning to bring Los Lunas to 3-1.

Then, in the top of the sixth inning, Los Lunas got Camile LePort on base on a walk and Analyssa Lopez doubled. Both would score to tie the game at 3-3 going into the bottom of the inning.

On their at-bat in the sixth, Valencia junior Kayla Young singled to begin in the inning then scored the winning run when Baca reached on a fielder’s choice two batters later. The Jaguars added two more runs in the inning to take the lead up to 6-3.

In the top of the seventh. Los Lunas got a pair of runners on base and were threatening to score, but Baca got the final three batters to go down swinging to end the inning and the game.

Vigil led the Jags with two hits, scoring one run and bringing in one RBI. Valencia finished with eight hits on the game. Young said he hoped for a top 4 seed but thought a few key losses might keep the team from a top four seed. Despite that, Young was happy with the win and the season so far.

“When we started the season, the girls listed their top 10 goals and one of the team’s goals was a district title, so I’m very happy for the girls,” he said. “But there are more goals they set that they’re still working for. They’re happy with the district title but they’re striving for more.”

Valencia (16-9, 8-1 District 6-4A) closes the regular season Friday at Grants. Los Lunas (19-6, 7-2) closes by hosting Belen, also Friday. All three teams will learn their post season fate Sunday when the New Mexico Activities Association’s selection committee releases its seeding for the Class 4A State Softball Tournament, which begins next weekend at campus sites before moving to Rio Rancho for the tournament’s double-elimination round.

GALLUP 6, VALENCIA 3

The Jaguars out-hit visiting Gallup but four errors ultimately doomed the Jaguars on Saturday at Jaguar Field in Tomé as the Bengals topped the Jags 6-3 in windy conditions.

The loss didn’t impact Valencia’s eventual district championship run, but it did keep them from going undefeated in league play this season.

“We had those four errors that hurt us early and that came back to haunt us later,” Young said. “(The loss) wasn’t from lack of effort. They’re a good, scrappy team with a good pitcher. I’m not disappointed with our effort.”

The Jaguars grabbed the early lead, 2-0 as Alisha Vigil slapped a double to score lead-off hitter Alexis Vigil started the inning off. Vigil then scored on a sacrifice fly by Erin Sharpe.

But Gallup’s left-handed junior pitcher Kianna Spencer kept the Jags off balance the rest of the way while the Bengals steadily worked their way back into the game.

Trailing 2-1 going into the fifth inning, Gallup took the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, then added three runs in the top of the sixth inning after loading the bases.

Valencia scored one run in the bottom of the sixth as Miranda Connelly reached first bae on a walk then scored when Adrianna Carbajal tripled on the next at-bat. But the Jags got no closer as Spencer closed the inning with a pair of strikeouts then got a Jaguar batter to ground out with two runners on to end the game.

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