Moriarty High School’s inaugural eight-team softball tournament featured timely hitting, solid pitching, a tribute to a player who passed away—and the host team claiming the championship trophy.
“This is my second first-place trophy as Moriarty coach, but this one means more to me because it’s at home, and it’s for Nadie,” Moriarty head coach Tonya Walden said.
Walden said the Lady Pintos dedicated the tournament to Eneirit “Nadie” Armendariz, a teammate who died in December. Throughout the three-game tournament, Moriarty wore commemorative pink jerseys in Armendariz’ honor. The shirts were inscribed on one of the sleeves with, “In loving memory of Nadie.”
After winning their respective games in Thursday’s and Friday’s rounds, Moriarty and East Mountain faced off in Saturday’s championship contest. The Lady Pintos led throughout and produced a late surge to beat the Lady Timberwolves, 13-6.
“It was a battle on both sides,” Walden said.
It was just the second time the two teams had ever played each other and the first time on Moriarty’s home field.
Moriarty scored a run in the first inning and 5 more in the third. Both teams plated a run in the fourth. After adding another run in the fifth, the Lady Pintos were sitting on an 8-1 cushion.
But East Mountain rallied for 5 runs in the top of the sixth inning to close the gap to 8-6. Sheyla Carver sparked the rally when she hit a scorching liner that got past Moriarty left fielder Lexi Rodriguez. Carver galloped around the bases turning the hit into an inside-the-park home run.
“I just picked my pitch and sent it out there,” Carver said. “I thought I’d get a double and then it was still out there and my third-base coach waved me around.”
In the bottom of the sixth, the Lady Pintos tacked on 5 runs to seal the victory. During the inning, Nicole Bryan hit a 2-RBI double. She raced home and scored with a gutsy head-first slide on Lydia Schmutz’ RBI double.
“When I saw Lydia hit it, I knew I had to get home, so I just took off,” Bryan said.
“They were just too much for us,” East Mountain head coach Brian VanDemark said. “When we rallied, they came back and rallied, but oh well, it is what it is.”
Moriarty’s Kodie Aceves and East Mountain’s RaeAnna VanDemark both pitched the entire game. Aceves proved to be a little bit sharper—fanning nine East Mountain batters. “At the beginning of the game I warmed up a lot and that helped,” Aceves said. “I kept getting warmer throughout the game, and the warmer I get the harder I throw.”
VanDemark acknowledged that the Lady T’Wolves “could’ve done a few things better,” adding that it was a good, competitive game. She said she was surprised at being awarded the tournament’s most valuable player. “I didn’t know there’d be an award,” VanDemark said. “But I think everybody kind of deserves MVP—it was more of a team effort.”
East Mountain opened the tournament with a 12-7, come-from-behind win over Class 6A Santa Fe on Thursday. The Lady T-Wolves were behind 5-1 when they plated 7 runs in the fourth inning.
East Mountain knocked off Class 5A St. Pius X in Friday’s second round, 13-1.
Moriarty cruised past Class 3A Estancia 15-1 in the first round, and Rehoboth Christian 14-1 in the second round.
After falling to Moriarty in the opening round, Estancia picked up its first win of the season in the second round with a 25-14 victory over Hot Springs. The Lady Bears lost 13-8 to Santa Fe in the consolation-bracket finale.