Prep softball: VHS No. 4, LLHS No.5 going into state tourney

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Valencia (17-9) came away from winning its first-ever District 6-4A championship over the weekend with the No. 5 seed in the Class 4A State Softball Tournament, Los Lunas, just a step behind.

Valencia (17-9) came away from winning its first-ever District 6-4A championship over the weekend with the No. 5 seed in the Class 4A State Softball Tournament, Los Lunas, just a step behind.

The Jaguars play No. 12 Los Alamos (14-12) at Jaguar Field in Tome Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the state tournament, which switches to a double-elimination tournament next week.

VHS coach Jeff Young said he felt the NMAA seeding committee placed the Jaguars where he expected them. He said his team had an idea of what the visiting Hilltoppers have in store for them.

"We watched them a little at the Rio Rancho tournament," he said. "They're scrappy and athletic. If we don't come to play, they'll give us fits."

Last season, Valencia hosted a first round game but fell to Farmington 9-8. This season, Young said he's seen great improvement in his team.

"Last year our fielding average was around .840 and this year we're well over .900," he said. "Our batting average is up about eight points, we're pitching much better. Overall as a group, we're focusing on fundamentals and getting better."

Los Lunas (20-6) took the No. 6 seed right behind the Jags and will be on the opposite side of the bracket, taking on No. 11 Roswell Goddard (14-12) Friday at 6 p.m. at Tiger Field in Los Lunas.

LLHS coach Paul Cieremans said the Rockets are a good squad.

"They played in a competitive district," he said. "They have good pitching, good defense and know how to put the ball in play. We just have to make sure to play our game and play with heart and intensity."

Both coaches say the 16-team field for the state tournament is among the toughest they've seen and whoever wins will have to be at their best.

"We've all got our work cut out for us," Cieremans said. "For us, we'd have Goddard Friday, we have to get past that one first. It's going to be a challenge."

Belen (9-16) finished the season losing five of its last seven, which contributed to the Eagles' missing the post-season. But VHS's Young said he thought BHS should have been the No. 16 seed.

"(Belen) finished third in our district and played a tough schedule," he said. "They should have been in."