Midway through Moriarty’s March 10 matchup with Albuquerque Academy, the Lady Pintos battled through the adversity of the game the same way they’re now dealing with their own anxieties amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trailing by more than 10 runs, Moriarty was facing a possible mercy-rule defeat. Then the Lady Pintos uncorked a barrage of extra-base hits, including a trio of triples by senior Kaitlyn Williams—one that drove in fellow senior Aneleya Guillen—to cut the deficit to one run.
Academy ended up edging the Lady Pintos in the barn burner and the loss dropped Moriarty’s record to 1-2. But the Lady Pintos showed that this year’s squad possessed a spirit that’s still propping them up.
Moriarty head coach Tonya Walden noted that the team “had really good chemistry,” and during phone interviews this week the seniors all agreed.
“I was honestly so excited [about this season], I felt like this year the whole team came together,” Guillen said. “It was the best three games I’ve ever played. It was so much fun the score didn’t even matter, it was like Little League all over again.”
“We all felt really close to each other, we had a lot of passion. It was a great dynamic, I loved all the girls,” Williams said.
“Every year’s different, but I feel like this year was probably the best team we’ve had,” said senior Estrella Garcia.
At the time, no one knew that the loss to Academy would be the last game of the season and likely the final game of the seniors’ high school careers.
In the days that followed, as the Lady Pintos prepared to play at the Socorro Invitational tournament, the New Mexico Activities Association put the season on hold.
“At that point, I was kinda upset but I still had hopes we were gonna play again,” senior Joeyelle Guajardo said.
“I remember when the Socorro tournament got canceled we were telling each other we have to keep practicing,” said Williams. “We knew once this got lifted we were gonna be ready to go twice as hard.”
But within a few weeks, as New Mexico’s schools were canceled for the academic year, the NMAA pulled the plug on all high school sports and related activities, including the state cheer and spirit championships.
“It was pretty devastating, I’m not gonna lie,” Guillen said. “I live for the sport, and to have it shut down after three games kinda broke my heart.”
Garcia, who is also a member of Moriarty’s cheer team, lost her softball season and the opportunity to compete at the state spirit championships.
“It’s very weird,” Garcia said. “This was my first year cheering, and we really wanted to go to state and it just ended.”
Now, as they continue to hunker down at home, the seniors are not just sitting around dwelling on the season that might’ve been. They’re thinking about their futures—and exemplifying an upbeat attitude.
“I know it hurts all of the seniors but right now we just gotta stay positive,” Williams said. “It sucks but we have to keep our heads up.”
“I’m happy they’ve taken the precautions that they did to keep us safe,” Guajardo said. “It’s definitely a learning experience but you just have to go with it, go where life takes you.”
Guajardo said she’s planning on joining the Army and is using her stay-at-home time to study for the A.S.V.A.B., the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
Guillen, who said she’s been accepted to New Mexico State University, said she’s spending time playing catch with her little brother, teaching him the fundamentals of the game she’s been playing since she was five years old.
“I’m just trying to get through it day by day,” she said.
Williams, whose two-RBI double to center field in the bottom of the seventh inning against Academy was Moriarty’s final hit of the season, said she’s focusing on schoolwork, taking dual-credit courses, and babysitting her younger sister. Williams plans on attending either UNM or New Mexico Tech to pursue a degree in biology, she said.
“I think I’m gonna come out of this stronger,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, all of us will come out fighting and we’ll come back from this.”
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.