After cruising through the first two games of their annual Moriarty Invitational softball tournament, the host Lady Pintos faltered in the championship and settled for a second-place finish.
The East Mountain Lady Timberwolves won their tournament opener but dropped the next two games to finish fourth.
During their opening round of the March 28-30, three-game tournament, the Lady Pintos pounded Class 3A Hot Springs 19-4 in three innings.
In the second game, Moriarty sank the Class 4A St. Pius X Lady Sartans 15-5 in five innings.
Both games ended on the mercy rule.
But in the championship matchup against Class 5A Santa Fe High, the Lady Pintos stumbled on defense and fell 10-5.
“Well, it’s frustrating, I mean I want us to win because I know we can, but you can’t really control anything that happens, it’s more of just who wants it more,” Moriarty’s Gabby Aceves said. “This game we just fell short, that was really it.”
After giving up a run to Santa Fe in the top of the first inning, Moriarty’s Jadyn Bryan came home in the bottom of the frame to tie the score 1-1.
Santa Fe scored a run in the second inning and added 4 more in the third to take a 6-1 lead.
In the home half of the third, Aneleya Guillen’s two-out, two-RBI single drove in Aceves and Nicole Bryan to cut the deficit to 6-3.
Santa Fe was up 7-3 when Aceves drove in Kaitlyn Williams, and Nicole Bryan drove in Aceves to make the score 7-5.
“I’m pretty proud we kept up with them,” Nicole Bryan said.
A handful of Moriarty defensive miscues allowed Santa Fe to add a run in the sixth inning and 2 more runs in the seventh.
“We had some errors but that’s nothing we can’t fix, you can’t win ‘em all,” Moriarty head coach Tonya Walden said, adding, “These girls played hard, even though we took second place, we had to beat two teams—and we mercy-ruled those two teams—so I’m very proud of the way my girls played.”
East Mountain got strong hitting and solid pitching in their March 28 opening-round victory over To’hajiilee. Sydney Johnson’s four RBIs and Brooke Bishop’s 10 strikeouts helped lift the Lady Timberwolves to a 14-0 shutout in five innings.
With the victory—just their second of the season—the Lady Timberwolves enjoyed a brief two-game winning streak until the next day when they lost 16-6 to Santa Fe.
The loss was costly for East Mountain because Bishop got hit on the elbow while batting and was unavailable for the Lady Timberwolves’ 17-1 loss to St. Pius X in their final game.
“We’ve played better, but when you lose your starting pitcher it kinda takes you out of your game,” East Mountain head coach Joe Johnson said about the tournament finale, noting that Bishop suffered a hairline fracture.
East Mountain’s lone run against St. Pius X came in the third inning. Nina Zahnle hit a deep drive that sailed past St. Pius’ right fielder. Zahnle never slowed down and turned the hit into an inside-the-park home run.
“My coach was telling me to run so I just kept going,” Zahnle said.
After finishing fourth out of the eight teams that participated in the tournament, Johnson said, “The bright spot is we ended up in the winner’s bracket. Now we’ve gotta rebuild, find some pitchers.”
East Mountain’s next game is April 5 at Rehoboth Christian near Gallup.
The Lady Pintos kicked off their district schedule April 2 at home against Los Alamos.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.