By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent
The North squad won’t have to wait until Saturday to find out whether it can wrap up its second straight overall win in the North/South All-Star Softball series.
That’s because a doubleheader sweep on Friday night in Clovis meant that the North stars already clinched the series victory — its sixth overall in the 19-year history of the event.
The teams will play one more game today, at 10:00 a.m., but the North made that contest less meaningful by winning the twinbill by scores of 7-6 and 9-1.
“It’s better closure than the last time I tried,” said La Cueva’s Kelly Curran, whose team was upset by Onate in the high school postseason just completed.
Curran allowed only three South hits in the nightcap as the North got one big inning, a seven-run third, to essentially put the second game away.
“It feels good. Now we can go out tomorrow and have fun — do whatever,” Curran said. “Play our game the way we know how, whatever happens happens, we won’t be so stressed out about it.”
Game one was a tight battle that went into extra innings before the North prevailed with a single run in the eighth. In fact, the North spent most of the first game playing from behind as the South jumped on West Mesa pitcher Gabriella Parra for three runs in the first and a single score in the second.
Most of the early damage to Parra was done by players from Gadsden, the team West Mesa squeaked by in a state semifinal contest just over a month ago. Gadsden’s Stephanie Gonzalez slapped an opposite-field single in the first to drive in two runs and, in the second, Panthers’ teammate Angie Ortega sent a triple into the right-field corner for another.
The North bounced back with three runs in the bottom of the second — thanks to RBI hits from Los Lunas’ Cheryl Torres, Del Norte’s Jessica Redhouse and Piedra Vista’s Julie Lovato — but didn’t tie the game at 4-4 until the sixth. The score was knotted when Redhouse singled home pinch-runner Natasha Reyes from Cibola. Later in the sixth, Albuquerque High’s Amanda Beauchamp slugged a two-run triple as the North seemed to gain control.
“I thought they were going to catch it. I just wanted to get those runners in,” said Beauchamp, whose hit gave the North a 6-4 lead.
In the seventh, the South rallied to tie when Alamogordo’s Courtney Reyes doubled in Ortega and Gadsden’s Vanessa Valles, who both singled off Parra with two outs.
But the North finally sealed the first game when a grounder to second from Lovato gave Los Lunas’ Maria Sedilla the opportunity to score from third.