West Mesa rides arm of top starter

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

How Mustangs senior Gabby Parra goes, West Mesa goes. Parra, who has signed to play at the University of New Mexico, has pitched every game this season for the Mustangs and, so far, things have gone nearly perfectly.

“If you have Randy Johnson,” Mustangs coach Leonard Garcia asked, “why would you pitch anybody else?”

West Mesa’s and Parra’s records are one in the same — 23-2. Accordingly, the Mustangs nabbed the top-seed in the Class 5A state tournament.

West Mesa hosts Clovis at 11 a.m. today.

Parra, the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year, has posted 15 shutouts, two no-hitters and a perfect game this season. Her ERA hovers just over 1.00.

“She keeps hitters guessing,” Garcia said. “She has an extremely effective change-up that she’ll throw for strikes to get ahead.

“She very seldom throws one down the gut, and I’ve never seen the girl get rattled.”

As the 16th seed, the Lady Cats (13-13) get the unenviable task of playing Parra and West Mesa in the first round.

“She gets ahead of hitters, then plays with them,” Clovis coach Brandi Thomas said. “We’re going to swing the bat.”

Thomas said the way to get to Parra is to swing at the most hittable pitches, which usually come early.

Thomas also said she will try bunting more than usual to put the ball in play and put pressure on the Mustangs’ defense.

“If that pitch is there, we’re going to swing,” Thomas said. “We’re going to make them make plays, make them throw us out.”

Even with his ace on the mound, Garcia does not expect a cakewalk in the first, or any, round of the tournament.

“We’re not invincible,” he said. “We’ve lost, and we can lose again if we don’t play well. But, if Parra pitches well, we’ll be tough to beat.”

A 12-4 game against Gadsen and a 1-0 loss at La Cueva are the Mustangs’ only blemishes this season.

Of West Mesa’s other 23 games, only five times did it give up more than two runs.

An obvious mismatch on paper, Garcia said there is even more bad news for the Lady Cats.

“Gabby gets up for games like this,” he said. “I think Clovis will have their hands full.”