Moriarty High School’s softball team kicked off its season April 20, hosting the Albuquerque Academy Lady Chargers. The game, coming about six weeks later than a typical season opener, ended after only three innings on the 15-run mercy rule.

But the final score took a back seat to the joy of being back on the diamond.

“I’m very excited to be back out here again,” Moriarty head coach Tonya Walden said. “Yes, we all are.”

Moriarty senior Jadyn Bryan went the distance in the pitching circle for the Lady Pintos and scored a pair of runs, and freshman Ashley Toler knocked in three runs.

But Academy built a huge first-inning lead and piled it on in the third inning to win 20-3.

With a mix of returning players and new, young players, the Lady Pintos are still trying to find their sea legs in this delayed spring season.

Bryan issued seven bases on balls to Academy batters in the first inning and gave up a couple of hits, including a triple. Moriarty’s defense also committed an error allowing the visitors to surge ahead 10-0 right off the bat.

“A little sore after a year break,” Bryan said about how her arm felt. She added that the whole team is just starting to get back on track. “Yes, it’s been a struggle but we’re getting there. It’s been almost a year and a couple months, so we’re all slowly getting back and getting better.”

Waldon added that the players may also have been a little nervous early in the game.

“I think in that first inning they were a little not-so-sure, jitters and everything, being our first game,” Walden said.

In the home half of the first inning, Bryan led off with a base on balls. Toler drover her in with a two-out RBI single to center field.

The Lady Pintos held Academy to just one run in the second inning and Bryan recorded her first strike out.

But in the third inning, Academy plated nine more runs to take a commanding lead.

“This year’s not really about scoring points,” Walden said. “To me, it’s more so about these girls just getting out here, and playing, and having fun.”

The Lady Pintos appeared to be having loads of fun in the bottom of the third when Bryan led off the inning with a bloop base hit to shallow left-center field that settled in the wilderness beyond Academy’s shortstop. She then took second base on a wild pitch. Alissa Hudson reached on an uncaught third strike, and Ruby Lerma followed with a walk to load the bases.

Toler stepped up to the plate and roped a two-RBI double to right field, driving in Bryan and Hudson.

“I just went up with a good attitude, thinking yeah, I’m gonna hit the ball and do it for my team to get us some more runs,” Toler said, adding that when she hit the ball, “It felt like it was gonna go somewhere.”

Despite the season-opening loss, Bryan echoed coach Walden by saying, “It feels great to be playing. I mean, we’re just learning how to mesh as a new team cuz we lost seniors last year and you get new girls every year, so it’s just good to be back.”

Moriarty’s final game last year, before getting canceled due to Covid, was a high-scoring barn burner at home in early March against Academy.

Standing close to the backstop watching this year’s season opener was Moriarty 2020 graduate, Aneleya Guillen, who played in that final game.

“I miss it a lot,” Guillen said about playing softball.

“They still come out and support us, I really appreciate my seniors from last year,” Waldon added. She reiterated that it’s all about the girls, that games come and go, so the important thing is just being able to play and have fun.

“It’s not about the wins or losses, it’s just about the togetherness and being able to build as a team,” Walden said. “Just seeing them out there smiling is worth it all, whether we win or lose.”